INLOGOV’s Senior Leader Apprenticeship 101

Picture credit: https://www.pexels.com/@startup-stock-photos/

Stephen Jeffares

All this week we are celebrating INLOGOV’s Senior Leader Apprenticeship. In this short blog we are offering an overview of the programme, it builds on yesterday’s post about why we launched an apprenticeship for public service leaders.

In a nutshell – public servants enrol on a two-year programme where they study online and on campus, and develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of a senior leader. That’s it really.

The ideal student is someone who has around 5 or more years’ experience as a manager and ambition to become a senior leader in public service.

The programme is made up of six modules. For each of the two years there’s one module in the Autumn, one in Spring and one in early summer.  Modules are blended, which means 6 weeks of online learning and then coming together for two days on campus.

The online learning is structured so you can choose when in the week you want to work on it. There’re usually 2 or 3 papers to read, a set of pages with course content to work through and a discussion board. This board is where you connect with others on the programme – responding to a question, posting to the board and commenting on the posts of others. This is where you find out what happens in other organisations, something our apprentices really value.

The modules are designed and led by research active academics and lecturers with first-hand public service experience: public management and governance, leadership, digital era public policy, evidence and policy, performance strategy and challenge, and commercialisation. The modules are assessed with two written assignments. These are submitted online and feedback is received after 15 days.

In the weeks between modules there is time to spend undertaking activities to develop and evidence competency as a senior leader. This activity is documented in a portfolio.  Once a term you meet with your practice tutor who helps review progress and identify priorities, opportunities, and next steps.

Once the taught modules are complete you undertake a special workplace project to develop a Strategic Business Proposal. This is a 12-week project and designed to demonstrate your acquired knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of a senior leader in public service.

The final piece of the puzzle is to undertake a 2-hour oral assessment, one to one with an independent assessor. For the first half you will present and respondent questions about your business proposal. The second half is a professional discussion led by the contents of your portfolio.

All being well the process is completed in two years and two months. The qualification is a Senior Leader Apprenticeship, but in addition the CMI grant chartered manager status and the University awards you with a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management and Leadership. After completion you are invited to upgrade your PG diploma to a full MSc by completing a dissertation without further costs.  This invitation is offered to all apprentices who successfully complete the programme.

If you’d like to speak one to one please email me and we can set up a call [email protected]

Dr Stephen Jeffares is Associate Professor in Public Policy and Digital Government at the Institute for Local government studies. He is also Director of INLOGOV’s Public Management and Leadership apprenticeship programme and author of three books: Hybrid Governance, Hashtag Politics and the Virtual Public Servant.

What have apprenticeships ever done for us?

Picture credit: https://www.pexels.com/@fauxels/

Dr Stephen Jeffares

It is national apprenticeship week! This year’s theme is “skills for life”. We thought it an opportunity to celebrate the public servants on INLOGOV’s somewhat unique apprenticeship programme that seeks to build the future generation public service leaders.

I can’t blame you if you tend to glaze over when you read about apprenticeships.  The world of modern apprenticeships is mired in jargon which can be daunting if not off-putting to those new to it. It was certainly a steep learning curve for colleagues when we first set about designing the programme back in 2016. But please read on.

There are now many universities and other education providers delivering the Senior Leader apprenticeship. But from the beginning we wanted to explore how we could take what a somewhat generic set of management competencies and translate into a vision for the future of public service.

There were moments in 2016 and 2017 where we were starting to regret embarking on that journey but it all fell into place on the morning we welcomed our first cohort to the campus. The energy in the room is always life affirming and reminds you that managers in public service are not the faceless bureaucrats as often portrayed, they are clever, creative, curious and dedicated to their local communities. On top of that, working with groups of public servants is what we do, what we have always done since our formation in the mid 1960s.

Leading and managing public services is a tough job, there is no typical week and work is rarely confined to 9-5. When the financial crash bit in 2009-2010 and the austerity budgets took hold making cuts to the development of public sector leaders was perhaps the easiest and most popular cut to make. Since then, our public servants have had to continually adapt and innovate and adjust to new ways of working, with reduced budgets and higher expectations.  As we emerge from the latest chapter of the global pandemic our local authorities are looking to new ways to support local communities. To succeed we need to develop our leaders.

You could say the apprenticeship levy and programmes like the Senior Leader apprenticeship has thrown management development a lifeline – it offers a means for local authorities to foster the next generation of public service leaders by giving them time away from their day-to-day work, an opportunity to develop new knowledge and skills, build networks with colleagues from across the country and learn from world leading academics in some of the finest research intensive universities.

There are three unique features of an apprenticeship programme that distinguish it from your regular part time postgrad qualification. The first is time. Learners are given 20% of their regular working hours a year to dedicate to their studies and development. This puts the student at a huge advantage as all too often part time qualifications have to be completed in evenings, weekends and holidays. This can be jarring to line managers however – they can often be somewhat surprised, horrified even, to consider letting their brightest and best be away for a 5th of a time. But they soon realise it does not mean losing somebody a day a week, that learning can be flexible and fit around major projects, furthermore that off-the job means undertaking special projects and much needed energy and capacity.

The second feature is commitment – The funding is structured to ensure that all parties -learner, line manager and programme leader are committed to each and every apprenticeship. It is this focus that means we can be sure people are on the right programme at the right time and that they are going to be supported through. All too often postgraduate study is undermined by a lack of commitment. It can seem pedantic to have tripartite commitment statements, but it matters and it works.

Third is support – we have always supported our postgraduate learners with academic tutors / dissertation tutors, welfare tutors etc, but apprentices get a dedicated practice tutor who meets with apprentice and line manager regularly to identify priorities, and discuss progress.

This programme is arguably the most demanding programme we have ever delivered.  Not only do our students have to complete 6 taught modules but they have to complete a portfolio evidencing their competencies as a senior leader, a strategic business proposal, a project presentation and a professional discussion with an external assessor. But with the time, commitment and support in place we are seeing first hand it is possible to succeed.

This week we’ll be taking over the INLOGOV blog. Tomorrow we’ll offer an overview of the programme – its structure and expectations.

Later in the week you can read some accounts of some recent apprentices – what motivated them to do an apprenticeship at this stage in their career, their experiences and their tips for anyone considering applying to the Senior Leader programme.

If you’d like to speak one to one please email me and we can set up a call [email protected]

Dr Stephen Jeffares is Associate Professor in Public Policy and Digital Government at the Institute for Local government studies. He is also Director of INLOGOV’s Public Management and Leadership apprenticeship programme and author of three books: Hybrid Governance, Hashtag Politics and the Virtual Public Servant.

How the MSc Public Management course has helped me professionally: A graduate’s experience one year on

Luke Bradbury

In December 2021, I had my graduation ceremony at the University of Birmingham having completed the MSc Public Management course run here at INLOGOV. It was a very enjoyable experience but was also sadly, due to COVID-19, one of only two occasions in which I had the pleasure to visit the campus. Seeing as it’s now been over a year since my graduation, I thought it would be a good time to share my experiences so far as a Birmingham graduate.

Specifically, I want to reflect on how the Public Management course has played a role in some of my professional endeavours since last year. I’d love to say that I walked straight into a graduate job the day after graduating; indeed, many of my fellow course mates were already working as professionals in the public sector and I’ve no doubt that their successes on the course will have paid off tremendously in their continued career progressions.

In my case, I was not yet certain what the future would hold. Since 2018, I had done a mixture of part-time and ‘bank’ work as a housekeeper for my local care home which was always handy during holiday periods and in-between my undergraduate and postgraduate study but was also a job I genuinely enjoyed. It also provided an important area of study for my postgraduate dissertation which I have spoken more about in a previous blog. While of course this healthcare role did, by its very nature, overlap with some of the research themes of the Public Management course – for example, the notion of ‘street-level bureaucracy’ or the role of front-line workers in policy-making and public service delivery – I was keen to see how the material I had learnt about transcends across other areas of the public sector.

I soon found myself in my first graduate role as an Evaluation Advisor for the Office for National Statistics (LinkedIn also helped a lot in securing this position for any new graduates reading!) The primary responsibility of this role is to support the work of analysts – that is, those advising on evidence-based policymaking in government – by ensuring that the best methods and data are used for informing important decision-making processes. Within the first few days of starting the position, I found that the skills I had learned and utilised during the Public Management course were already proving useful. For instance, I was asked to assist in identifying and reviewing existing cases of good practice for a piece of government guidance written by the Analysis Function – a sort of ‘literature review’ if you will, and akin to the necessary steps taken when completing a final dissertation project as expected on the Public Management course. I remember thinking, “Hey, I’ve done this before!”.

But this was just one of several transferable skills I had learned about and used during my time at INLOGOV, and which were also proving applicable to this graduate role. Leadership is a fundamental ‘behaviour’ that is essential to the role. In its broadest sense, this means being able to set direction and to motivate a team to work collaboratively with other government departments and stakeholders to establish common practice based on robust analytical methods. I would argue that this firstly reflects some of the themes of the leadership theories covered in the Public Leadership syllabus (for example, setting shared group objectives in behavioural leadership theory and the emphasis placed on encouraging and inspiring others in transformational leadership theory). But secondly, these leadership skills reflect the aims and objectives for students undertaking the Public Management course which, amongst many other things, involve building the knowledge and skills necessary for leading in a public capacity. That is, to be able to take some of the concepts of these leadership theories and apply them in practice.

Certainly, the ability to link theory to practice and having a strong capacity for critical enquiry are attributes which are central to the research ethos of INLOGOV but have also greatly informed my practice as an Evaluation Advisor where I am often tasked with reviewing evaluation concepts and methodologies and critically analysing their applicability to the wider strategic goals of the Analysis Function. This also relies heavily on the ability to communicate strategy to the team and can therefore often be a test of public speaking skills. Looking back, I remember a seminar for the Public Management and Governance module in which we were encouraged as a class to engage in group discussions, to reflect on our reading of the literature and to exchange knowledge with peers. As well as providing the opportunity to critically engage collectively with the course material, this session really aimed at boosting our self-confidence in public speaking which has certainly been an invaluable skill both academically and in the workplace.

To sum up, the skills which are taught on the Public Management course are qualities which are not only designed to help you successfully complete the course, but they are also transferable life skills which will be advantageous in all your future career endeavours as I found myself soon after graduating. I look forward to seeing how these skills will continue to have value long into my career.

Luke Bradbury graduated from the MSc Public Management in 2021 and is now Evaluation Adviser for the Office for National Statistics.

Further information on the MSc Public Management and part-time programmes are available here: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/government/departments/local-government-studies/courses/masters.aspx

Information on the Executive Apprenticeship in Public Leadership and Management is available here:
https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/government/departments/local-government-studies/courses/pml-apprenticeship.aspx

Schools and local authorities – where next?

Edwina Grant

Recently, politicians at Lancashire County Council have reflected on the national picture regarding the ambition of the Department for Education, contained in the White Paper on Education and the subsequent Schools Bill.  The Bill aims to move all schools to become academies and to allow councils to open a Local Authority-established Multi Academy Trust (MAT), although some would argue that this was technically possible before.

The government’s aim to ensure that by a notional target of 2030, 90% of pupils meet the expected standard in maths and reading at Key Stage 2, and that the national GCSE average grade in both English language and maths is increased from a 4.5 to 5.  It sets out its strategy of delivery: “ensuring excellent teachers, supporting teachers deliver high standards for all pupils, deploying targeted support for those who need it most, and ensuring a stronger school system”.

Key policies to achieve this include the ambition that there will be a fully Trust led system with a single regulatory approach, through growth of strong multi-academy trusts.  The Bill envisages the establishment of new multi-academy trusts (MATs), encouraging existing and new MATs to expand and allowing trusts to be established by local authorities.  The notional ambition is, that by 2030 all pupils will be taught in a strong MAT, or their school will be planning to join one.

The White Paper was released in March 2022 and subsequent Schools Bill was introduced to Parliament in May 2022.

At Lancashire County Council, we have a good relationship with our local authority-maintained schools, with single academy trusts (SATs) and with multi-academy trusts (MATs).  We have prioritised the core responsibilities for local authorities on promoting the children’s right to education in terms of admissions, challenging exclusions and supporting alternatives and working with our schools collaboratively on behalf of young people with special educational needs.  We became even closer as a result of the challenges of the Covid pandemic.  The Schools Bill, however, is a challenge for us, as at the time of writing, 560 of our 628 schools are local-authority maintained.

There are obviously options for us.  Firstly, to continue the status quo and to let the market take its course.  Secondly, to proactively manage the market by working closely with the new regional Department for Education teams to ensure that our local authority voice is heard as more schools are encouraged to join MATs and indeed, more MATs, as yet unknown to us, are encouraged to join our school landscape.  Thirdly, to express our ambition to establish a local authority maintained multi-academy trust.

After much deliberation, including briefings and discussions with all our councillors, and close consultation with the regional office for the Department for Education, we considered that options 2 and 3 should be explored further.  We are actively strengthening our existing relationships with MATs and trying to understand who the new players might be in our bordering geography of which, given the size of Lancashire, there will be many.  We have also submitted an expression of interest to establish a local authority established multi-academy trust specialising in special education.  We decided on the special education specialism as we have a high level of strength in that sector, and also an existing deep relationship on a pupil level with the children in those schools.

The outcome is yet to be decided but thinking about the next steps has brought us closer to key questions about our existing commercial activity with schools in our authority.  Will the new MATs who take on existing county schools still buy our services, and if they do, in what volume, given the financial pressures ahead?  How do we shape our local elected councillor involvement to ensure the democratic voice is heard, and how do we advise and support the multi-academy trusts so that they fully understand the community context of our local offer for the most vulnerable families and their children?

Time will tell, but this is potentially the most interesting change since the implementation of the 1988 Education Reform Act, which reduced the powers of local authorities over schools.  As I was an education officer in Lancashire at the time, I can attest that it took enormous amount of goodwill from both councillors and officers to realign our systems and our structures so that our schools could get the best of that significant change.  To think back on that time now, that schools previously did not have full control of their budgets, seems strange.  I hope that another 30 years on from now, we will be able to reflect as positively on the changes ahead of us.

References:

Edwina Grant OBE is Director of Education and Children’s Services for Lancashire County Council.

What have apprenticeships ever done for us?

Dr Stephen Jeffares

It is national apprenticeship week! This year’s theme is “build the future”. We thought it an opportunity to celebrate the public servants on INLOGOV’s somewhat unique apprenticeship programme that seeks to build the future generation public service leaders.

Picture credit: Mark Cohen, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

I can’t blame you if you tend to glaze over when you read about apprenticeships.  The world of modern apprenticeships is mired in jargon which can be daunting if not off-putting to those new to it. It was certainly a steep learning curve for colleagues when we first set about designing the programme back in 2016. But please read on.

There are now many universities and other education providers delivering the Senior Leader apprenticeship. But from the beginning we wanted to explore how we could take what a somewhat generic set of management competencies and translate into a vision for the future of public service.

There were moments in 2016 and 2017 where we were starting to regret embarking on that journey but it all fell into place on the morning we welcomed our first cohort to the campus. The energy in the room is always life affirming and reminds you that managers in public service are not the faceless bureaucrats as often portrayed, they are clever, creative, curious and dedicated to their local communities. On top of that, working with groups of public servants is what we do, what we have always done since our formation in the mid 1960s.

Leading and managing public services is a tough job, there is no typical week and work is rarely confined to 9-5. When the financial crash bit in 2009-2010 and the austerity budgets took hold making cuts to the development of public sector leaders was perhaps the easiest and most popular cut to make. Since then, our public servants have had to continually adapt and innovate and adjust to new ways of working, with reduced budgets and higher expectations.  As we emerge from the latest chapter of the global pandemic our local authorities are looking to new ways to support local communities. To succeed we need to develop our leaders.

You could say the apprenticeship levy and programmes like the Senior Leader apprenticeship has thrown management development a lifeline – it offers a means for local authorities to foster the next generation of public service leaders by giving them time away from their day-to-day work, an opportunity to develop new knowledge and skills, build networks with colleagues from across the country and learn from world leading academics in some of the finest research intensive universities.

Last month the second cohort of our programme completed their End Point Assessments, assessed by the Chartered Management Institute. Confirmation that everyone has passed, several with distinction is one of the emails that brightens your day. For this group it is job done as they resume normal duties.

There are three unique features of an apprenticeship programme that distinguish it from your regular part time postgrad qualification. The first is time. Learners are given 20% of their regular working hours a year to dedicate to their studies and development. This puts the student at a huge advantage as all too often part time qualifications have to be completed in evenings, weekends and holidays. This can be jarring to line managers however – they can often be somewhat surprised, horrified even, to consider letting their brightest and best be away for a 5th of a time. But they soon realise it does not mean losing somebody a day a week, that learning can be flexible and fit around major projects, furthermore that off-the job means undertaking special projects and much needed energy and capacity.

The second feature is commitment – The funding is structured to ensure that all parties -learner, line manager and programme leader are committed to each and every apprenticeship. It is this focus that means we can be sure people are on the right programme at the right time and that they are going to be supported through. All too often postgraduate study is undermined by a lack of commitment. It can seem pedantic to have tripartite commitment statements, but it matters and it works.

Third is support – we have always supported our postgraduate learners with academic tutors / dissertation tutors, welfare tutors etc, but apprentices get a dedicated practice tutor who meets with apprentice and line manager regularly to identify priorities, and discuss progress.

This programme is arguably the most demanding programme we have ever delivered.  Not only do our students have to complete 6 taught modules but they have to complete a portfolio evidencing their competencies as a senior leader, a strategic business proposal, a project presentation and a professional discussion with an external assessor. But with the time, commitment and support in place we are seeing first hand it is possible to succeed.

All this week we’ll be taking over the INLOGOV blog. Tomorrow we’ll offer an overview of the programme – its structure and expectations.

Later in the week you can read some accounts of some recent apprentices – what motivated them to do an apprenticeship at this stage in their career, their experiences and their tips for anyone considering applying to the Senior Leader programme.

We’ll be hosting lunchtime webinar on Thursday 3rd March at noon, where you can hear more about the programme and pose questions to me – the Academic Programme Director. You can sign up for the webinar or access to the recording here:

https://bham-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/2316440021075/WN_SJvks70eRzig6ucW2jrmPQ

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak one to one please email me and we can set up a call [email protected]

Dr Stephen Jeffares is Associate Professor in Public Policy and Digital Government at the Institute for Local government studies. He is also Director of INLOGOV’s Public Management and Leadership apprenticeship programme and author of three books: Hybrid Governance, Hashtag Politics and the Virtual Public Servant.

As the children return to school in September, the change in Pupil Premium funding will see many schools lose out

Cllr Ketan Sheth

Cllr Sheth on a recent visit to a school

Pupil Premium funding for our most disadvantaged children, based on the number of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) data collated every January, provides critical funding to schools for essential resources, which in turn benefits all children. Each FSM successfully registered increases the funding to schools, a substantial amount of which does not reach schools because not all parents who are eligible apply for FSM for their child.

New Government conditions have seen a change in how it is calculated. By shifting from a January date, for calculation, to the previous October date, a stretched borough, such as Brent, now, will have 900 fewer secondary school pupils eligible, amounting to a loss of £860K in their budget. 

Pupils at primary schools fare a little better in Brent; but the picture elsewhere in the country is less kind – 62,000 fewer eligible pupils in primary schools in England, according to FFT Education Datalab analysis of the Department of Education recent figures.

The need for FSM and eligibility is rising, as are casual admissions all year round, due to changes in family incomes. This change results in £90M missing from budgets when schools have already been under intense pressure with lockdown and are attempting to build-up again as we recover following Covid-19.

The result means that the Government has introduced a detrimental lag in funding, which will introduce a current year saving; but will impact on the much needed essential support for children who have had the greatest challenges of home-learning throughout the pandemic and now beyond.

We are often reminded of the mantra: “every child matters”; if we are serious about levelling-up everywhere then we must rethink this decision and how we best support our children, so no child is disadvantage. The time between September, the start of the school year, and January allows for an accurate reflection of school children in need of FSM; and therefore, schools requirement for Pupil Premium. The timing is essential to promote and ensure effective communication with parents/carers, enabling them to register for FSM.

There is some speculation amongst head teachers that the Government may overhaul or perhaps completely remove the funding – this will be catastrophic and a retrograde step for the levelling-up agenda.

Cllr Ketan Sheth is Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee of Brent Council