Inspiring Leaders Programme

Aspirant Directors Programme

What to expect

Starting in late September 2022 and running until March 2023, the third upon Programme offers an exceptional learning opportunity for around 40 talented individuals who want to make a real difference to the lives of children, young people and families and community outcomes.
The delivery of the programme will be a blend of virtual and face to face learning based on continued emerging Covid-19 arrangements. Having delivered a very successful cohort during 2020/21 and currently delivering the second cohort for 2021/2022 with great feedback, we know that you will benefit from a richly blended learning experience, taking advantage of online engagements alongside residential and face-to-face activities.
We’ll concentrate on creating an inspiring environment for you to grow into the role of Director, using a range of inputs and techniques. 

  • As well as 8 ‘taught’ days, you will take part in learning visits, action learning and leadership challenge activities, planned to support you in your very busy day job.
  • Content will be tailored around the needs of the cohort, using the skills and experience of participants, as well as the expertise of facilitators and contributors.

What you’ll experience:

  • Leadership and management development including both academic learning and the chance to discuss the realities with leaders in the field, personal leadership qualities and resilience, systems leadership and building alliances and partnerships; working in political and corporate contexts; leading in complexity; engaging communities; delivering results; innovation and change.
  • Building technical knowledge and skills – open access repository including guides, videos, blogs from successful leaders, learning sessions in areas of knowledge gaps. 
  • Personal support – you’ll have formative assessments including 360 feedback, a regional learning mentor and employer support. There is optional academic accreditation and a coaching offer in year 2, plus career advice and support.
  • You’ll grow as a person and as a leader during the programme which will equip you to feel more ready to step up to a DCS role with confidence, and you’ll build a strong peer community during the programme and beyond.

In return, we ask that you, and your employers, are committed to your full contribution to, and completion of the programme, giving to your peers as well as yourselves.


We are looking for inspiring new leaders that children can depend upon. If you are interested in applying for our upon programme and would like to know more information about what’s involved and how to apply, we will be holding an online webinar on Thursday 7th June 2022 at 10am.
During the webinars you will hear from those that helped develop and deliver the programme, discuss what the programme entails in detail, and there will also be plenty of opportunities for you to ask any questions you might have. We will also provide hints and tips on what to prepare as part of the application process and what to think about in advance.

You can register your interest for a webinar here.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Leaders

We believe the future of Children’s Services is one of diversity, acceptance, and equal opportunities for all. There are some outstanding role models for all of us amongst the world’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic leaders but we know that there remain barriers to progression which are long standing in this sector and others. To help achieve greater diversity of leaders, upon will be providing specific support for aspiring leaders, new Directors and employers, to help address some of the barriers to progression. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Leaders.

We are working with existing leaders from our Black and Asian Leadership Initiative (BALI) along with other senior leaders, to develop our approach.

If you are not already involved in this work and would like to know more, please contact us at