Think Tanks


The 24 hour Think Tank is not a conventional conference, seminar or workshop. It aims to bring together a group of colleagues to exchange practice and, through lightly facilitated working sessions and experiential ‘swap shops’, reflect upon and seek solutions to the challenges they face.

Typically the Think Tank is open to DCSs, their direct reports and others in equivalent senior leadership positions across the public sector with a particular interest in improving outcomes for children, young people and families. It is an opportunity for senior leaders to come together with peers to consider collectively how to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead and what new models of public service provision might be needed to withstand likely future shifts and changes.

Summer Think Tank, 19th – 20th August 2019

SEND – “Is the only answer to reform the reforms?”

The 2014 Children and Families Act ushered in what were announced as significant reforms to the system of support for children and young people with SEND. However, while the Act’s aims of greater child, and parental, involvement in decision-making and improved cross-service collaboration were largely well-received, in practice many in the SEND community have experienced great frustration in their encounters with the reformed system.

These experiences prompt some crucial questions: do the evident practical flaws in aspects of the system such as EHCPs and Local Offers, along with the clear differences between areas with regards to the quality of service provision, indicate that the current SEND legislation is in need of further reform? Is it a matter of leadership? How do we get out of this current situation and meet children’s needs well enough?

Come and work through this together

Exceeded my expectations. Quickly brought out to the table all the key issues and some useful sharing of practice and challenges.

A really valuable opportunity to have time to reflect and talk with colleagues.

Participants from 2018 Summer Think Tank


A really rich discussion and lots to think about!
There were a number of light bulb moments/extracts that came out through the presentations and discussions.

Participants from 2017 Summer Think Tank

The course created the correct atmosphere to allow folk to speak openly and honestly about the issues.
Well planned, good background papers and well sourced examples that provided an opportunity to consider ideas that have different contextual genesis but common principles that can be mobilised.

Participants from 2016 Summer Think Tank

Yes – high level intellectual debate, much to reflect on for future planning in my own context.
Great opportunity to understand perspectives and view work through different lenses.

Participants from 2015 Summer Think Tank

If you would like to register your interest, please contact The Staff College team via:

*For each of our subscribing LAs one place on either of the Think Tanks is available free of charge for the DCS or nominee to attend. A reduced rate also applies to any additional places for subscribing LA employees, to find out more please click here.