Practice Leadership Programme

Programme Overview

Course requirements

What is the programme?

This practice-based programme has been designed around the DfE Knowledge and Skills Statement for practice leaders. The programme has been uniquely designed to facilitate leadership within social work, with an emphasis on learning from doing, preparing participants for a role as a practice leader within children’s social care.  This is supplemented by relevant theory input delivered through a series of seminars. 

The programme is facilitated by the practice leaders in Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Councils in collaboration with Department for Education. Practice Leaders from Partners in Practice and other local authorities will be a part of the delivery team.

The programme is unique as it concentrates on preparing participants for a practice leader role within children’s social care, focussing on the challenging and unique nature of this role and offering support and assistance through a network of development coaches and colleagues within children’s social care. 

Who is the programme for?

To apply for a place on the programme you should:

  1. Be a head of service (or equivalent) looking for opportunities to develop skills and knowledge in preparation for a practice leader role (assistant director or equivalent)
  2. Welcome coaching input from leaders across the sector
  3. Be interested in a systemic approach to leadership  

How is the programme structured?

The programme has two phases:

The preparatory phase will last 12 months, during which time aspiring practice leaders will prepare for future leadership opportunities. The second part of the programme will take place once participants are in a practice leader role. 

Over the course of both phases, participants are matched with a development coach (an established practice leader).  This relationship is at the centre of the programme and is key to the learning experience.  Development coaches provide constructive and facilitative feedback throughout the programme.   Participants will spend up to five days over the course of the first year in the authority of their development coach, and will be joined by their development coach in their own authority for up to two days.

Preparatory phase

The programme begins with a two-day residential, offering participants the opportunity to meet together for the first time, along with their development coaches.

Thereafter participants will come together for monthly seminars.  These include theory and practice input from expert speakers, and a facilitated activity which enables participants to apply the content to real dilemmas.

Participants are asked to work on a service development project within their own authority over the course of the programme. This might be an existing project, or something that has been identified as a need locally.  This presents an opportunity for the participants to use the knowledge and input from their development coach, others on the programme, and sector experts to shape a piece of work within their own authority, which will be of use not just for their learning but of benefit to their authority as well. 

Finally, there will be an opportunity for participants to observe an Ofsted focused visit. 

This phase of the programme will end with a final residential. 

In-Role phase

Once participants start in a practice leader role support will be provided to help individuals make the transition to their new role. The support available will vary and be bespoke according to individual needs.

The Practice Leadership team will encourage the use of peer networks and will sustain an alumni of past participants.  

Who can apply?

Prospective participants:

  • Must have a social work qualification
  • Are expected to be those in a Head of Service (or equivalent) post or have equivalent experience
  • Should be those whose next step is a practice leader role within children’s social care

Application process

Cohort two of the programme will be open for applications between 1 October – 16 November 2018. Applicants will be asked to submit: 

  • Completed Application Information Form 
  • Two references from their Director of Children’s Services (or equivalent) and current line manager. Referees will be asked to comment on:
    • Why would the candidate make a good practice leader? 
    • Describe two strengths and two areas of development for this candidate (600-word limit)
  • A Supporting Statement detailing:
    • Key achievements
    • The main components of a good practice framework
    • The key features of good leadership and how the candidate describes her/himself as a leader (1000-word limit)

Applications should be emailed to:

Application timeline

Activity Start End
Application deadline 01.10.2018 16.11.2018
Longlist Applications 26.11.2018 30.11.2018
Telephone Interviews 10.12.2018 14.12.2018
Development / Selection Days   29.01.2019

The selection process will be undertaken jointly by Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea Councils in collaboration with Department for Education, Practice Leaders from Partners in Practice and other local authorities. The process will be moderated by an independent panel.