Melani Oliver

The Women In Leadership (WIL) 2-day residential programme started out life in 2019 and has continued to run a minimum of 2 national cohorts per year in addition to bespoke programmes for individual local authorities. The programme was developed in response to a recognised need that women face unique challenges in their leadership roles that are often based in systemic issues. WIL provides a safe opportunity for women to reflect, learn, develop and challenge, seeking out new ways to lead, leaving a

legacy of courageous, confident and inclusive leaders.

Whilst the WIL programme has in the main had excellent reviews and been very well received by commissioners and delegates, for several reasons it has not had the opportunity to focus on clarifying its core purpose or direction of travel within the broader context of The Staff College’s other work. This has sometimes felt like the programme has lurched from one successful event to another without an overarching strategic direction of travel. With a strong cohort of associates now engaged in the WIL programme, combined with the wider work on Inclusion and Diversity, this felt like a great opportunity to pull the relevant associates together to review and renew our work and commitments. In November, the 5 associates working on the WIL programme met for the first time face to face for a Development Day, joined by Femi and Ellie from The Staff College.

The key purpose of the day was to:

  • Explore the direction of travel for WIL
  • Provide an opportunity to explore how we work together and areas for further scope for the WIL programme
  • Strengthen the processes around WIL and
  • Have some fun!

The question of whether WIL is a movement, advocating for change across the sector, or more modestly a learning and development opportunity, has been an ongoing discussion amongst the WIL associates. We were fortunate to have Nadine join us for part of the day and feedback to us the outcomes of the Inclusion and Diversity Day. This provided a great context in which to have our discussions, ensuring we are contributing to and aligning with the broader Staff College’s ambitions, principles, practice and values.

The WIL programme potentially contains 3 elements:

  • Learning and Development
  • Research
  • Advocacy

Following our review, it was agreed that the over the coming 12 months the team should focus their work on the learning and development opportunities, including some research linked to qualitive evaluation of the Learning and Development opportunities. It was however also recognised whilst the programme is a learning and development opportunity, it needs to move towards being a movement aligned with the College’s vision. Through yearly planning and evaluation this will be reviewed, with the idea that the programme can hopefully gain momentum to become a movement in future years.