Thursday, 24 September 2015

It’s all coming together…

The last six months have been something of a whirlwind here at Firstline. Among other things, we’ve been meeting local authority leaders, interviewing first line managers, booking venues, and recruiting Leadership Development Advisors – all with the goal of creating a prototype development programme for first line social work managers that has a tangible impact on the lives of children and families.

But perhaps the most exciting part of the work so far has been collaborating with some of the best brains in the business on the Firstline programme itself.

Then came the tricky bit: figuring out how to support them to get there. Any development programme comes with challenges - after all, it's incredibly difficult for us to change our behaviour, especially when we return to the same environment as we were in before. But creating a programme for first line managers in children’s social work is especially challenging given the enormous pressure they are under in their day-to-day jobs, and the huge demands that are placed on their time and energy as a result.

So we were determined to draw on all of the expertise and experience we could lay our hands on. We sought advice from our subcommittee members, and drew heavily on the skills and knowledge of our Technical Advisory Group. This included input on systemic practice, coaching, behavioural science, and learnings from related programmes like Teaching Leaders and our colleagues at Frontline.

These discussions allowed us to develop the basic structure of the programme. We decided that a mixture of on-site and off-site sessions would be the most practical and impactful way to deliver the programme, and that it would be important to include a range of activities in order to account for the different learning styles that we all have. We also decided that a mixture of group, individual leadership development, and individual exercises would be most likely to lead to the transformational change that we’re aiming for.

Since then, we have been working to develop the detail of the curriculum, with input from experts at the Hay Group and experienced practitioners like Nick Pendry and Jeremy Greenwood. And of course we also sought feedback from our Local Authority partners on the structure and content to make sure it aligned with their expectations, which it is so far.

The next few weeks are likely to be just as interesting as we work to refine the curriculum, create the materials we need, welcome the Leadership Development Advisors to the Firstline team, and make the final logistical arrangements. But we know it will all be worth it, and can’t wait for the moment next month when we can finally welcome the 40 Firstline Leaders onto the programme. Then the hard work will really begin!

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