New directors of adult social services

This programme is run in partnership with ADASS and is offered to new directors of adult social services in England – one of the most complex and challenging roles in local government.

Strategic Leaders 1

Key points

  • One–to–one work with political mentors, experienced directors and personal coaches
  • Action Learning Sets that focus on the complex, hard to resolve issues of public sector leadership
  • Workshops structured around key themes and building a peer learning network 
  • Assuming corporate responsibility or adult social care brings new feelings and pressures.

The statutory role of director of adult social services can create tensions with the responsibilities of being in a local-authority leadership team.

Being responsible for maintaining social care values and improved outcomes against corporate priorities and tightening finances can be lonely.

So this programme aims to support you and to develop your personal, political and strategic impact and leadership style.

Download the brochure for more details (PDF)

Programme providers

This programme will be delivered by the National Skills Academy for Social Care - the knowledge experts on leadership within adult social care.

The Skills Academy has an extensive portfolio of leadership programmes for staff at all levels including the National Graduate Trainee Scheme, the Front-Line Leaders Programme and the Aspiring Leaders and Top Leaders Programmes.

The learning consultants for this programme are: 

Jill Barrow (Programme Director)
Jill will facilitate the workshops and action learning sets. Jill has an extensive track record of delivering director level programmes.
Jill is a former local authority Chief Executive and Director of Education and delivered the Leeds Castle Programme run by the Local Government Leadership Centre.

Paul Snell MBE (Coach)
Paul is a qualified and experienced executive coach and is a former Director of Social Services and Chief Inspector at the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Sue Machell (Coach)
Sue is an experienced coach and facilitator and was part of the team which delivered last year’s New Director Programme.
Sue is a former Chief Executive of an NHS Trust and Director of Nursing.

The programme is for

New directors who want:

  • Support in making a successful transition to senior leadership
  • A safe, confidential space to reflect on and adapt yourleadership style and vision
  • To develop their personal, political and strategic awareness and impact
  • To improves their ability to work with complexity and the ‘wicked issues’ of public service leadership
  • To increase their resilience and flexibility and ability to innovate and take risks
  • To builds their peer network and increase their capacity to work with peer learning

Local authorities who want:

  • A director who is equipped and supported to take on the demands of corporate leadership at a time of critical social change
  • A director who is able to handle themselves under pressure and who can work with the dynamics of complexity and uncertainty
  • A director who can foster strong interpersonal and organisational relationships
  • A director who can motivate others and work with resistance
  • A director who can be held accountable for delivering a high level of service and hold others to account for improving services
  • A director who facilitates others’ contributions, nurtures capability and supports the long-term development and ambitions of their team
  • A director who understands how to work in political environments
  • A director who can construct partnerships with citizens and communities based on the principles of co-production
  • A director who can lead complex transformational programmes to deliver personalisation while maintaining business as usual

How you benefit

This national programme offers a package of individualised support over eight months, including workshops, collaborative action-learning sets and one-to-one support.

Core elements include:

  • Personal and leadership development
  • Leadership models
  • Cognitive and intellectual input
  • Experiential learning 
  • Review of learning and developing reflective practice 
  • Policy input 
  • Creativity, fresh thinking and innovation

24-hour workshops

Each workshop has a specific focus based on current policy themes and the demands of taking up senior leadership roles, with specific reference to the DASS role.

Topics covered in the workshops will include: 

  • Managing the political environment of local government
  • Leading social care values within a corporate team
  • Leading in partnership with other public service leaders
  • Managing risk.

Action learning sets

Action learning is a method of collaborative learning where a small group of peers meet regularly to reflect on real work issues using a critical evaluation process.

The focus of our action learning sets will be the specific issues affecting your leadership.

These issues will be complex, possibly intractable problems which have no clear-cut consensus on what they are or how they should be resolved.

They typically have endless, ongoing consequences regardless of what action is taken and there is very rarely a right or wrong answer in how to deal with them.

The action learning sets will enable you to critically evaluate the specific issues of your work by: drawing on actual practice; using the peer group experience to test beliefs and assumptions; exploring new ways of thinking and behaving; and planning how to do things differently back in the work place.

Action learning sets based on specific issues are inevitably challenging, stretching and illuminating.

Most people also enjoy them!

One-to-one support and political mentoring

The New Director of Adult Social Services Programme will offer participants one-to-one support to help them in meeting the personal and political demands of their role.

These include personal coaching with one of the two coaches, mentoring with an experienced director of adult social services, and group mentoring by experienced councillors.

The one-on-one support components will be tailor-made depending on your needs and will complement each other in terms of supporting personal, professional and political skills development.

While you are on the programme you will have access to three two-hour coaching sessions with one of the programme coaches.

Meetings with mentors will be negotiated directly between you, although it is expected that you will meet with each mentor at least once during the programme

Date and Fees

This year’s programme has already started and is closed for applications. The next programme is likely to commence in the late autumn. 

Event Date

Pre workshop dinner 11th June

Workshop 1 12th June 

First Action Learning Set Tuesday 10th July 

First coaching session During the week commencing Monday 16th July 

Pre workshop dinner 10th September 

Second workshop 11th September 

Second Action Learning Set: Wednesday 10th October 

Second coaching session During the week commencing 24th September 

Pre workshop dinner 6th November 

Third workshop 7th November 

Third Action Learning Set 4th December 

Third Coaching Session During the week commencing Monday 7th January 2012 

Pre workshop Dinner 22nd January 

Final Half Day workshop Morning 23rd January 2012

Enrol in the New Directors of Adult Social Services Programme

The normal cost for a programme of this kind would be in the region of £4000, but funding from the Department of Health means that we can offer it at extremely affordable rates, saving you over £3000:

  • Cost for Skills Academy Members £449
  • Cost for Skills Academy Non-Members £499

If you’d like to be involved in the next one, email us at:

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