October 2015

Welcome to October’s L & D Newsletter…

James Bond - where would he be without learning and development?
James Bond – where would he be without learning and development?

Welcome to our new blog!  This will provide us with a permanent, searchable archive of ideas and resources.  It also allows you to comment on each edition, so please fire away and let us know what you think (click the “leave a comment” button above).

Highlights this month include:

  • the launch of the “365 in 100” L &D challenge. Can we achieve 365 individual pieces of L and D across the team in the time it takes an adult Great White shark to lose and regrow 375 teeth?
  • We’ve also got the definitive guide to booking and paying for external training;
  • The launch of the in-house seminar series “Evidence Exchange“; and
  • Some inspiration from an unlikely source – everyone’s favourite L & D action hero, James Bond.

  In This Edition…

  1. CLoG Activities
  2. BIS and DCLG Opportunities
  3. Across the Country…and Beyond
  4. News and Reviews

  1. CLoG Activities

The 365 in 100 Challenge

Friday 23rd October was day 17, and we have reached 92 pieces of L & D reported across the team.

Some highlights so far:

  • The CSL Teach-in was delivered this week. Demand for a repeat session is so great we will be scheduling another couple in the next fortnight.
  • Pete Northover attended a talk at the Cambridge Centre of Computing History about “human / machine interaction” plotting the so-called “three waves” of how technology and humans have changed since the 1960s.  Will we be redundant by 2050?  Ask Pete for more.
  • Dave Morris gave us the lowdown on the housing system.  The Government is going to find it “virtually impossible” to meet its stated ambition of building 1,000,000 houses during this Parliament. No pressure DCLG housing team!

On the current trajectory we will reach 541 pieces of individual L & D completed by the 100 day milestone, but don’t let that breed complacency.  Keep the feedback rolling in to Hazel Northcott or Colin Lovegrove as appropriate, and let’s smash that target.

Bond realises he's going to have to brush up on his driving skills.
Bond realises he’s going to have to brush up on his driving skills.

How to agree and book paid-for training (Patrick Mulligan)

A number of people have been asking about the process for agreeing and booking training (both Civil Service Learning and external) which needs to be paid for. Information for both CLG and BIS colleagues is below.

Booking Training in DCLG

  1. Once you have identified a course via the CSL portal, email the learn inbox (learn@communities.gsi.gov.uk) with your request, making sure to:
  • Copy in your line manager and Head of Profession if the request is for professional training;
  • Include the name of the supplier, date of the training, course name and costs;
  • Remember to allow at least 5 working days for your PO to be raised.
  1. Once you receive your Purchase Order Number you can book your training course
  2. You must not book your training unless you have a valid PO number

Booking Training in BIS

  1. Once your training has been agreed, log onto the CSL portal and find a course with a suitable date. In order to book this course you will need a Purchase Order (PO) number.
  2. To obtain the PO number please email: Karen.Hopwood@bis.gsi.gov.uk with your course name, description, date and NETT cost.
  3. Please allow 5 days for the PO to be raised. Once you have received your PO number you can then complete your booking. If you change the date or cancel your course please let Karen Hopwood know at the time.
  4. When you complete your course please send an email to Karen Hopwood to confirm this so that the course invoice can be paid.

NB Departments are charged for non-attendance on CSL courses. If you cannot attend the course as booked then please offer it to other colleagues.

A Message From Civil Service Learning – 15 of the Best

CSL has so much more to offer than a few mandatory courses. Can we tempt you to try something from our new guide to our best learning?

The 15 pieces of learning we’ve included – classroom courses, reading and e-learning – are all very popular and get top notch feedback from other civil servants. And they are popular for a reason – the different topics cover the skills people tell us they most need to develop, to make the most of their role. We’re confident you’ll find something to inspire you.

So why not check out our pick of the best and book some great learning today?

Click here for more details.

Cities and Local Growth Team – Evidence Exchange (Zainab Agha)

Evidence Exchange sessions will bring the latest research and evidence to bear on a policy question relevant to CLoG. They will be held at least quarterly, and if you have a question or a speaker in mind please contact Zainab Agha.

The first session will be led by Paul Hildreth who will speak on What influences firms’ location decisions? This will be on Wednesday 11 November, 10:00am – 11:00am in PG46 – Conference Room 2, 2MS (and through videoconferencing and telekit.)

CLoG Workshop – “An Economic Case for Local Economic Growth” (Kamal Hussain)

Tim Cullen and Andrew Paterson are leading this to complement our communications work, but all comers are welcome.  If you are free between 14:30 and 16:00 on the 12th November to participate in a session in London please email Kamal.hussain@communities.gsi.gov.uk.  Equally if you are interested but cannot make this date or can’t come to London please let Kamal know and we’ll schedule a repeat outside London if there is sufficient demand.

Clusters Policy Research Programme with Cambridge University (Mike Todman)

Heidi Granger recently organised a briefing session on clusters policy featuring Professor Mark Hart which she videoed as an L&D resource. This was to conclude the research project we undertook this year with Tom Hitchings from the Cambridge University Masters in Public Policy programme,.

The video and a short article about Tom Griffiths’ experience of working with the Cities and Local Growth Unit have been published on the programme’s blog here:


We also have a full length (c. 75 mins) version of the video, including a very interesting Q&A saved on the team drives for anyone interested  in the subject.  .

Mike Todman reports that he found working with the programme really interesting this year, and he thinks that running a similar research project this year might be an interesting opportunity to offer around the Unit.  Anyone interested could get in touch with him and he’ll arrange an introduction to the Course Director.

CLoG Presentation Club (Scott Adcock)

Scott Adcock runs a monthly presentation club to give people an opportunity to practice their presentation skills in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. The next session is on 19th November from 12:30 – 13:30 and will focus on improvisation. If people are interested in attending please contact Scott and he will add you to the circulation list.

The CLoG Policy School (Ben Whitlock)

The unit is preparing for the next edition of the successful Policy School initiative, which is set to take place in January in collaboration with partners in the South East Midlands. It will be a fitting finale to the 365 in 100 Days L&D Challenge. Further details will follow.

Mentoring - a great way to learn.
Mentoring – a great way to learn.

Project & Programme Management (Louis Mayhew)

The Association for Project Management

DCLG has recently become a corporate member of the Association for Project Management (APM) which is an award-winning Association for Project Management with over 21,150 individual and 550 corporate members making it the largest professional body of its kind in Europe. DCLG’s corporate membership allows us access to a nationwide programme of good practice events and opportunities to ensure we are using the latest project management trends and practices.

You can find out more at www.apm.org.uk. To get the most out of the website please register as a user, citing DCLG or BIS (BIS is already a member) as a corporate member. For further information contact Louis Mayhew.

Policy to Delivery Workshops

12th & 16th November 2015, 14:00 – 17:00, Fry Building G46, 2 Marsham Street

The DCLG PPM Centre of Excellence (PPMCoE) is jointly running two Policy to Delivery Workshops on 12th and 16th November with the Major Project Authority (MPA).

These workshops feed directly into the new organisational vision.  Melanie Dawes has made it clear that we need to “develop a much more streamlined, flexible, project-based way of working that is strongly focused on ministerial priorities that is outward-facing and commercially savvy; and has greater clarity about how we move from policy design to policy implementation”.

The interactive Project to Delivery workshops are open to all staff, will be facilitated by DCLG PPMCoE and MPA and will cover the following:

  • Real life policy examples, hearing from our implementation partners;
  • How project managers can ensure good implementation through early involvement in the policy cycle;
  • Common failures and success factors in policy delivery;
  • Challenge potential projects that could be difficult to deliver.

If you would like to attend one of the workshops please email Louis Mayhew with the date of the workshop you wish to attend.

Project delivery profession – competencies

The MPA has set a direction and vision for the development of a project delivery profession across Government which is clearly bounded by a set of competencies that Departments use to assess their professional group and provides the basis for learning and development and career planning.

Project managers across DCLG are to use these competencies to aid self-assessment and career development.

If you would like to see these competencies please contact Louis Mayhew.

  1. BIS and DCLG Opportunities

Commercial Skills Massive Open Online Course (Katherine O’Connor)

There is an opportunity to learn through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from Civil Service Learning.   You have an opportunity to improve your core commercial skills, free of charge, working at your own pace. The MOOC on contract management was so popular with UK civil servants, including those not in specifically commercial roles, it’s being run again, from 9 November. You can register now.

007 doing some IT training on the job.
Even secret agents have to keep their skills fresh to stay at the top of their game.

DCLG seminars

DCLG run regular seminars highlighting issues which relate to the department’s policies, most of which have lots of relevance to what we do in CLoG. The next two are featured below.

Behavioural Insights, Wednesday 11 November

Owain Service (Managing Director, Behavioural Insights Team) will lead the session between 12:30-13:30.  Book your place – http://dclgseminar-11nov2015-owain-service.eventbrite.co.uk

Prospects for the housing market and implications for policy, Tuesday 1 December

John Muellbauer (Professor of Economics, University of Oxford) will lead the session, 12:30-13:30.  Book your place – http://dclgseminar-01-dec2015-john-muellbauer.eventbrite.co.uk

BIS Learning and Development Opportunities

The BIS Outreach programme organises a range of fascinating visits. Outreach encourages everyone to spend time with the organisations that we work with externally, so that we can understand them better. If you would like further information please contact the BIS Outreach team. Forthcoming visits include:

Outreach visit: The Digital Catapult, 17 November

Learn about ‘The Internet of Things’ and see how the centre is helping people overcome the challenges of creating trust in the use of personal data.  Click here for more info.

Citizen Space consultation training, 10 November

How to make your consultation more engaging, and how to set up and analyse your questions.  Click here for more info.

BIS deregulation workshop, 10 November

A workshop on how staff can contribute to the Government’s £10 billion deregulation savings target.  Click here for more info.

Digital basics: Twitter and LinkedIn, 18 November and 16 December

Learn about Twitter and LinkedIn.  Click here for more info.

The BIS Upskilling Offer

An upskilling offer for the six priority capability areas for BIS has now been published on the Intranet as part of the department’s commitment to its staff.

The offer is separated by grade, and by learning type (e-learning, face to face, BIS and profession specific). Opportunities outlined in the document link directly to the opportunity, or another relevant site – e.g. Yammer, external sites, or an email address to enquire about the offer in more detail.

The department will build on the offer and will refresh it as new opportunities arise.

007 - still working on his communication skills.
James Bond – still working on his communication skills.

3. Across the Country…and Beyond

For anyone who fancies a trip to Manchester on 12 November to hear some informed criticism of the Government’s first six months in office, economically speaking, read on.

Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science 2015: How to Run the Country (6 Months On)

You are warmly invited to this free event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2015:


It will be hosted by the Pluralist Political Economy Cluster in the Faculty of Business and Law.

Join Dr Kevin Albertson, James Meadway (Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation) and other guest speakers as they constructively criticise Economics, Politics and Society during the government’s first six months in office as well as other current topical issues. Local schools will also join in a lively debate with academics: ‘Economic planning undermines economic growth’.

It will be held at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Business School on 12 November 2015. For further information on the speakers and format of the day:


If you would like to book a place please follow the Eventbrite link below:


Devolution and You

The Policy Profession workshop on devolution will help policy makers at G6 and G7 levels.  It is taking place on Tuesday 24th November 2015, 9:00 – 12:00, Central London.

In July, Sir Jeremy Heywood launched the Devolution and You learning campaign across the Civil Service to promote understanding about devolution and why it matters.  Devolution is here to stay. Policy makers need to understand the devolved structures of government and what this means in practice for policy making across the UK.  Understanding this can help policy be delivered more effectively and minimise risks to delivery.

•   It will provide an overview of the devolution structures and current settlements, and intergovernmental relations including public attitudes and politics.
•   How policy making and delivery benefit from understanding what devolution is and how it can impact – even when matters are devolved.
•   How one Civil Service supports multiple administrations; the role of leaders and the Policy Profession in improving devolution capability

Book here

Bond - a master of personal assertiveness.
Bond demonstrates the benefits of personal assertiveness training.

5. Views and Reviews

An Organisational Raid (by Joe Manning)

I went on an organisational raid at 3M, an American multinational company, probably best known as the inventors of the humble Post-It note. The company’s main business is in adhesives and abrasives, although they have a lot of other product lines, and they sell goods in over 200 countries. The focus of the day was 3M’s approach to research and development. But it was also apparent that many of the challenges that they face as a firm are similar to those faced by Government. These included communicating the company’s vision and mission, developing new operational models, working across internal silos and providing services to customers more efficiently and effectively. DCLG run a number of these events with firms and I would definitely recommend them.

Bond conducts an organisational raid.
Bond conducts an organisational raid.

Building personal resilience (by Hilary Paxman)

I attended a two hour workshop on “Building Personal Resilience and Mindfulness”, a pilot session that might be offered more widely across DCLG.  The trainer was a member of DCLG’s “help” employee assistance team with the aim to help you build and maintain your personal resilience.

We spent part of the time looking at how stress manifests itself, and some of the shorter term and longer term effects of being stressed.  It recognised that a degree of stress can be beneficial, but that excess stress could lead to more serious mental and physical problems.

The second part of the work shop shared some tools to help individuals combat stress, including an introduction to the concept of “Mindfulness” as one way to promote wellbeing and personal resilience.

I now feel more able to recognise stress both in myself and in others around me, and have some tools to hand to help combat feeling this way, if necessary.  One that I liked in particular was the tool to help build my personal resilience, reminding me that I should keep a balance every day between intellectual i.e work, and other things to help reduce possible unhelpful stress levels. See below for more details.

Building Personal Resilience

September 2015

Welcome to September’s L and D Newsletter

L and D

Welcome to September’s edition of the CLoG Learning and Development Newsletter. I (Douglas Leckie) am the new editor following Charlotte Heyes’ departure for pastures new, with Pete Northover overseeing the L and D strand of the Management Plan of which this newsletter is an integral part. Our aim is to improve the team’s knowledge of the L and D opportunities we have, as well as our ability to access these opportunities and share what we learn from them across the team.

The newsletter will publicise opportunities and keep you informed about how progress is going on the L and D team’s work. Speaking of which, if you haven’t yet filled in the online survey asking for your views on the current L and D offer, please do so now: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DP7CFYZ

Also, if you have any material which you would like to go in next month’s edition, please let me know.  Views and reviews of any L and D activity you have done recently are particularly welcome, as is any feedback on the newsletter.

In This Edition…

  1. Formal Training Opportunities
  2. Mentoring
  3. External Events
  4. Departmental Resources
  5. Views and Reviews

1. Formal Training Opportunities (led by Hazel Northcott)

Civil Service Learning Teach-In

We’re arranging a Civil Service Learning Teach-in to help people get the best use out of the CSL offering. More details will come round shortly.

CLoG Learning Menu

Alongside this the team has brought together the attached “learning menu”, gathering together some of the key CSL courses that are relevant to the Unit, as well as a links to wider background reading that you might find useful. This is arranged under the following headings:

  1. Working in Government and policy making
  2. Local Government and their partners
  3. Economics
  4. Commercial and business awareness
  5. Project management
  6. Communications and digital technology
  7. Reading and external events

The menu is also stored on the DCLG shared drive here, so if you have anything to add please do update it, keeping Hazel informed of any changes (BIS staff will need to email these to her anyway as they cannot currently access the document on the network).

CLoG Policy School (Ben Whitlock)

The second Cities and Local Growth Policy School is due to take place in November. As those who attended the first event in April will testify, this is an excellent opportunity to widen and deepen your local growth policy knowledge, get to know teammates across CLoG, and get under the skin of the challenges facing a place. Look out for more information – including how to sign up – soon.

2. Mentoring (led by Sue Houston)

We already have a number of mentoring relationships between CLoG and the Advanced Manufacturing and Services Directorate in BIS, but if you are not involved and would like to be either a mentor or a mentee with someone else in a different part of CLoG, please email Sue Houston.

3. External Events (led by Joe Manning)

The learning menu highlights a number of relevant external events, but for those looking for policy input that ranges more widely the Cabinet Office hosts “Thought Experiments”, speaker series which brings the world’s leading thinkers to Whitehall.  The details of this term’s programme are below.

Thought Experiments – Autumn 2015

All meetings are taking place in 1 Horse Guards

  • Paul Collier on migration and cultural cohesion (9 Oct, 13.00, G16)
  • Simon Wren-Lewis on monetary policy gambles (15 Oct, 16:00, G14)
  • Mark Goldring on global poverty (26 Oct, 16:00, G14)
  • Martha Lane-Fox on the social power of the internet (12 Nov, 16:00, G14)
  • Robert Putnam on the American dream (17 Nov, 16:00, Churchill Room)
  • Mary Beard on Ancient Rome (23 Nov, 16:00, G16)
  • Steven Pinker on language (1 Dec, 13:00, Audit Left)

To attend you will need a pass that allows you unescorted access to 1HGR or know someone who can escort you in. No tickets required – entry is on a first come, first served basis. To be added to the mailing list for these events contact the team at: thought.experiment@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

There are also a wide range of events that take place all over the country. In this edition, we are focussing on policy resources and events organised by Universities based in the North West and will share similar links from other parts of the country in future newsletters.

External L and D Opportunities in the NW

  • University of Manchester policy week – 2 to 6 November 2015 – Science, Technology and Public Policy: The programme of events was launched last week, including a keynote address by David Willetts. Further details are available here and the majority of events are free, but booking is required.

The Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice at the University of Liverpool holds a variety of events entitled “Policy Provocations”. There are no events organised for the 2015-2016 academic year yet, but you can sign up for their newsletter here.

4. Departmental Resources

Using Digital in Policy Making

BIS has published the Using digital in policy making guide which provides a central location for digital guidance on the BIS intranet.

The guide is helpfully divided up into four sections all of which provide useful information on how to use specific digital tools and techniques wherever you are in the policy making cycle. These quick links will take you directly to the relevant sections:

Also part of the wider Digital BIS campaign is the drive for all BIS staff to have a digital objective in place. More information on digital objectives can be found at intranet info on digital objectives.

In addition, October 12th – October 23rd is the BIS Digital Fortnight with a fantastic programme of talks and events. You can find more information and sign up here.

To give you a flavour of what’s on offer, Mike Todman is hoping to attend the data visualisation session with ONS and to take up the offer of an outreach visit to the Digital Catapult centre in Euston.

5. Views and Reviews

L and D for our new DGs

Simon Ridley and Rachel Sandby-Thomas were both asked by Laurence for their best ever learning and development activity at our recent CLoG L and D day.  Simon identified a leadership training course he had done through the Whitehall and Industry group – you can read WIG’s leadership training prospectus here which gives more details.  Rachel said that work shadowing was the thing which had taught her the most, and she has made an open offer to anyone in her Group to come and shadow her, so do contact her office directly if you’d like to take her up on this.

Better Briefings and Submissions (Mick Lazarus)

Developing a brief is something of an art form. The very word “brief” suggests it should be short and concise, but I have found myself using 15 words when perhaps 10 would suffice. Given that Ministers don’t have long to read a brief, this matters! I was keen to gain a better understanding of best practice when compiling briefs, while perhaps also learning some new techniques, and the CLS Briefings and Submission workshop sounded like it could offer both.

The course itself was split into four sessions spread over a full day:

  • planning a brief
  • organising complex information
  • hearing from Ministers (on a video)
  • develop a briefing from start to finish.

Having to produce a brief with no input from anyone else got all of us out of our comfort zone, a really useful exercise. Apparently the ideal brief is two pages, and Ministers are unlikely to read Annexes, begging the question as to why we use them!

This was a useful course pitched at those without great experience in writing a brief, although that’s not to say others would not benefit from it. I would recommend this course for those who want to refresh their existing knowledge, or for those who want to learn how to structure a brief from start to finish.

Book this course for yourself here.

The Public Accounts Committee (Douglas Leckie)

On Wednesday 16th September the Public Accounts Committee took evidence from Melanie Dawes and Tom Walker as part of their enquiry into City Deals. Never having been before, I took the opportunity to attend to see this fabled instrument of democratic accountability in action, and I learnt a great deal from the experience.

My first reflection was that the atmosphere was not as hostile as I had expected. The Chair (Meg Hillier) set the tone, and I thought it was enquiring and cooperative in the main. Politicians across the spectrum support devolution in principle, and the Committee seemed largely to view City Deals in that context. Their questions were almost as much about how we were applying the lessons learned to current devolution policies as they were about the initricacies of the City Deals themselves.

My second reflection was that certain key facts and figures are at a premium. “25,000 jobs created by City Deals” came up at one point, along with the caveat that we could not be 100% sure about its accuracy, and this sparked a whole chain of follow up questions about methodology, communications with cities, and our consistency across all the deals. We need to be as certain as we can be about our facts and figures as they are an obvious target for particularly intense scrutiny.

A third reflection is that L and D does not necessarily require lots of planning and preparation.  I went along to the PAC more or less on a whim, and it was one of the most instructive L and D activities I have done.

Read more about the PAC’s inquiry into Wave 1 City Deals here.