upon is a new and aspiring leaders programme, designed to grow England’s talent pool of future Directors of Children’s Services, and also help recently appointed Directors to thrive in their new roles. It’s co-created and delivered by a trusted consortium of expert partners; The Staff College, Institute of Public Care, Skills for Care and GatenbySanderson.

Now into its fourth year, this innovative leadership programme was launched in response to the DfE identifying significant challenges in attracting and retaining talented leaders in DCS roles. With the continued uncertainty in which Local Government and the public sector operates coupled with the many challenges facing our children, their families, and our communities now and in the foreseeable future, we anticipate that there will continue to be an increasing need for those in the role to be supported and for a pool of people ready to step into the role of DCS for the first time.
It is vital that new leaders are identified and developed, and succession planning is key to this. upon supports this by inspiring ambitious and courageous future leaders to step up and move into DCS roles, staying in post for longer to achieve even more positive transformation.

We are committed to offering the same level of support and encouragement to recently appointed DCSs. Whatever their past experience, our future leaders will be fired-up to develop their skills, build resilience, take responsibility and thrive as part of the next generation of positive change-makers the UK’s young people depend upon.


“The role of a DCS is probably one of the most challenging and rewarding roles anyone could undertake. It provides an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of children and families in our communities. In the face of such busy roles, it is often difficult for Directors in role to find the time to share their experiences and knowledge with others, yet in doing so, they can both learn from, and equip, the leaders of the future. Our aim is to show what life as a DCS is like giving candidates valuable insights and preparing them for their next steps. We want participants to bring an open mind and enthusiasm and leave with a passion to be the leaders who will make a positive change to children’s lives.”

Jane Parfrement, Director of upon and Chief Executive of the Staff College