A collaboration between the Staff College and NHS Horizons, the Aspirant Directors of Children’s Services Programme is a single national leadership development programme for senior leaders who aspire to a director-level role in the provision of children’s services in England. This exciting opportunity brings together learning from Staff College senior leadership programmes from across the public sector in England, Wales and Scotland and NHS Horizon’s experience and expertise in supporting and delivering large scale change across the public sector.

Public services, and people involved in their provision, face unprecedented challenges. Roles are becoming more wide-ranging, and people working in senior positions invariably find themselves responsible for services outside their historical area of expertise. The relationship between the citizen and the state is increasingly unsettled while, as integrated delivery becomes more established and new alliances take shape, there is greater fluidity between the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

The step up to a director level role requires a willingness to embrace and handle the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity which now characterise senior leadership in the public sector. Many of the challenges they face test their ability to manage dilemmas, in which there may be no single “best way” in which to proceed and where progress can only be achieved by holding in creative tension apparently polar opposite perspectives or approaches.

This programme is about finding ways of working successfully in a difficult and unpredictable space, where you may be alone, but you can’t operate in isolation, where you may have to take risks, but your first concern must be for the welfare of others, where you may want to think systemically, but must act like an entrepreneur to make progress.

Our partnership with NHS Horizons offers participants the opportunity to benefit from some of the most innovative approaches and tools available to support learning, innovation and change, learn from each other and, together, prepare for the next phase of their careers.

Please see the flyer for further information.


Applications for Cohort 1 are now closed.


Application process

Applications for Cohort 1 are now closed.

The application and assessment process comprises a number of steps, these are:

✓ Sponsor conversation

✓ Completion and submission of the application process and sponsor nomination

✓ Independent review and benchmarking of application forms

✓ Identification of a maximum of 30 participants

Prospective applicants will need to complete the online application process with the support of a sponsor. This process will identify and establish whether a potential applicant meets the eligibility criteria. Those individuals, who are deemed through the assessment process to have development needs that cannot be met by the programme, will receive constructive feedback and will be signposted to other development opportunities to support their future professional growth. Applications must be submitted by the deadline, and will only be processed following the receipt of both submissions from the sponsor and prospective applicant.




Programme duration is 6 months, which allows flexibility for individual participants. Participants are expected to commit to attending each of the face-to-face elements of the programme for the duration in order to successfully complete the programme.


Timeline of programme dates

Application process                                      8th January – noon 24th January 2018

Successful applicants notified                  week commencing 29th January 2018

Initiation day                                                  5th February 2018, thestudio, Birmingham

School for Change Agents                         February – March 2018
5-week virtual learning programme

Residential 1                                                   17th – 18th April 2018, Aston Conference, Birmingham

One day workshop                                       14th May 2018, thestudio, Birmingham

Residential 2                                                   13th – 14th June 2018, Aston Conference, Birmingham

End of Programme Seminar                     12th July 2018, thestudio, Birmingham



£2,000 +VAT per participant.


For any other information please contact: hello@thestaffcollege.uk or call the team on 0161 826 9450.