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Minister announces children's leadership programme

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A new programme to support aspiring directors of children’s services is be launched next year, the children’s minister has announced.

Speaking at the Association of Directors of Children’s Services conference last week, Nadhim Zahawi said the training scheme would also help directors who are new to the role and take its first cohort early next year.

“I want to build on where leadership is already excellent and work in partnership with ADCS to cultivate and sustain high performing leaders, to develop a top-quality leadership infrastructure and provide additional support to places facing leadership challenges,” he said.

He added the programme would “ensure that we build on where there is already excellent leadership” and “attract and keep talent”.

In an interview with LGC earlier this year, ADCS president Rachel Dickinson said cuts to government funding was hindering the development of aspiring children’s services directors, with new responsibilities meaning the gap between assistant director and director has grown.

Mr Zahawi said the leadership programme would aim to build on the regional improvement alliances and the partners in practice programme that have been sector-led.

The Department for Education has said a procurement process for an organisation to run the programme will begin shortly.

In her speech at the ADCS conference, Ms Dickinson said the extra £250m the government has pledged for special educational needs and disability (SEND) support was ”nowehere near enough”, but added problems in the system were also caused by “mis-aligned incentives across partners”. 

She added: ”Local authorities have all of the responsibilities for maintaining high needs expenditure within budget but no levers with which to affect this.

”I urge you minister, in the strongest of terms, to consider a re-booting of local authorities powers to enable us the best strategic commissioner for SEND that we possibly can be.”

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