Welcome to December’s L&D Blog!1-dahl

Roald Dahl with Willy Wonka and Matilda. Image c. Michael Dyer, with illustrations by Quentin Blake. Taken from Fantastic Mr Dahl.

2016 marked 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, or as his dedicated website describes him, ‘the world’s number one storyteller’. Ardent readers of the L&D blog will note that last month, Beatrix Potter was described as having been ‘the bestselling children’s author of all time’. While this is true, Roald Dahl too occupies a special place the world of (not just children’s) literature. Born in 1916, Roald Dahl was not only a writer but a spy, a fighter pilot, a chocolate historian and a medical inventor.

An energetic and clever writer, Dahl’s stories transport his (yes, often young) readers beyond the confines of the ordinary, actively encourage curiosity and celebrate the power of the human imagination. Readers of a Dahl tale are left with the impression that life can be filled with magic, and that human beings are nothing if not resilient.

As we gear up towards a new year and begin to take stock of the lessons to be learnt from 2016, a little magic and resilience will surely go a long way. And what better way to build resilience than through some (possibly magical!) learning and development?

Anyway, please enjoy the quotes, images and illustrations below. I shall now take heed of the Big Friendly Giant’s words to Sophie: ‘don’t gobblefunk around with words’.


The BFG as drawn by Sir Quentin Blake

In this Edition…

1. Fun and games!
2. CLoG Activities
3. BEIS and DCLG events
4. CLoG and beyond: speakers and events
5. News and Reviews


1. Fun and games!

GRAD’s update this week comes with a word search puzzle! Downloadable here: devo-wordsearch

As this is the last blog of the year, we’d like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you to all of our colleagues in CLoG with whom we have worked throughout 2016 to turn devolution deals into reality.

Although it’s only the beginning of December, the festivities will be upon us before we know it, so in keeping with the season we have prepared a light-hearted means of transiting from work to play with a devo-themed word search puzzle … enjoy! (… scroll down to see the solution)


2. CLoG Activities

Policy teach-ins:

7 December, 1.15pm-2pm

Great British High Streets Awards – Hilary Paxman

December, tbc

Intro to Debt, Bonds and “Brummienomics” – Robin Frogatt-Smith

The Career Charter Tool Box

The Career Charter was launched by Tom Walker in March 2016 and sets out our commitment as a Unit to be a place where everyone feels supported to develop their career and pursue their personal career goals. The Career Charter Tool Box has been developed by the Career Charter Team – with Gareth Bradford as the Leadership Team Champion – to empower people to develop their career paths in accordance to their personal and professional aims and objectives, through (1) Career Conversations, (2) Mentoring, (3) Shadowing and (4) Loans and Secondments. To find out more, please click on the following link: career-charter-tool-box


“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – The Twits

3. BEIS and DCLG events


There are some exciting events and seminars scheduled for this month – find out more on the intranet.

Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Focus Group

This 90 minute focus group will help you understand BEIS’ diversity challenges and air your ideas on solutions, all structured around an outline for the BEIS Diversity and Inclusion strategy.

Whitehall Place: 6 December, 2016 2:00 pm

Birmingham: 7 December, 2016 12:00 pm

1 Victoria Street: 9 December, 2016 10:00 am



This 1996 film adaptation of a Roald Dahl work tells the story of Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson), a gifted girl forced to put up with a crude, distant father (Danny DeVito) and mother (Rhea Perlman). Worse, Agatha Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), the evil principal at Matilda’s school, is a terrifyingly strict bully. However, when Matilda realizes she has the power of telekinesis, she begins to defend her friends from Trunchbull’s wrath and fight back against her unkind parents.

The Big BEIS Fair

8 December, 2016 10:00 am

An opportunity for staff to know more about what teams across BEIS do, have a chance to get to meet new colleagues and really feel like one department. Highlights include the Big BEIS Marketplace, the Diversity and Inclusion Showcase, the Big BEIS Coffee Connection and the Big BEIS Bake-off.


BEIS School
  • 7 December, 2:00 pm: Introduction to behavioural insights in BEIS
  • 15 December, 10:00 am: Electricity Interconnection – panacea for the energy trilemma?
  • 20 December, 2:00 pm: Renewable Financial Incentives: modelling and monitoring

The full list of DCLG learning and development opportunities can be found on the intranet. The below may be of particular interest:

Making the most of a Ministerial visit – A Core Curriculum Event

Fri 9 December – 10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Ministerial time is valuable – and so is yours. How do we ensure the way Ministers see the impact of our work is as smart as it possibly can be? And how can a visit incite and drive the delivery of our priorities as a department? This course will look at how to identify the benefits of a pre-planned visit strategy, maximise the impact of Ministers engaging with people implementing our policies, and how we can capitalise on the promotion this can bring to our work. Details here: https://intranet.communities.gov.uk/event/core-curriculum-making-the-most-of-a-ministerial-visit-2/

Drafting for Ministers – A Core Curriculum Event

Tue 13 December – 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm

One of the greatest skills a Civil Servant can have is to ensure you get your message across – and enable your Minister to do the same. This course will focus on how the style and substance of how you draft can change depending on its context. You will see how a ‘line to take’ for Cabinet is different to that for a speech. The same message delivered in the Commons will vary considerably in the Lords. This course is recommended for new and experienced drafters alike. Details here: https://intranet.communities.gov.uk/event/core-curriculum-drafting-for-ministers-2/

Building your Resilience – a Health and Wellbeing Workshop – A Core Curriculum Event

Wednesday 11 January 2017 – 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Full details here: https://intranet.communities.gov.uk/event/core-curriculum-building-your-resilience-a-health-and-wellbeing-workshop/


Just a rather adorable photo

DCLG Economic and Social Research (ESR) Seminars – London
Local economic growth: What works and what’s next?

Wednesday 11 January – 12:30-13:30


Affordability and home-ownership: Policy options & constraints

Tuesday 17 January – 12:30-13:30


Does England now want devolution too?

Thursday 09 February – 12:30-13:30


Inequalities in later life – reflections from the Centre for Ageing Better

Wednesday 01 March – 12:30-13:30


From market fixing to market making: Implications for smart and inclusive growth

Thursday 30 March 12:30-13:30


The economic case and evidence for greater infrastructure investment in the UK

Thursday 06 April – 12:30-13:30


6 Matilda.jpg

“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog.” – Matilda Wormwood says this to her friend Lavendar about Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, giving her opinion on why the Trunch gets away with her horrible behaviour.

4. CLoG and beyond: speakers and events

Below are a broad range of events, covering CLoG policy and more!

Next steps for local economic growth ‐ funding, infrastructure and the future of LEPs

Guest of Honour: Tom Walker, Director, Cities & Local Growth Unit

14 December, London

Details here: http://www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk/forums/event.php?eid=1331

Funding for regional projects beyond the European Union referendum – partnerships, devolution and the transition of EU Structural and Investment Funds

9 February 2017, London

Details here: http://www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk/forums/event.php?eid=1288

Next steps for regional development and the future of the Northern Powerhouse

Guest of Honour: Councillor Sean Anstee, Leader, Trafford Council

21 April 2017, Central Manchester

Details here: http://www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk/forums/event.php?eid=1357

The full list of Westminster Policy Forum events can be found here: http://www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk/forums/index.php?fid=westminster_social_policy_forum

LSE – public lectures

How to Break Down the Glass Wall: successful strategies for women at work

Date: Monday 5 December 2016

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

Speakers: Kathryn Jacob, Sue Unerman


The full list of LSE’s public lectures can be found here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/eventsSearch/events.aspx?eventtime=thismonth

 Queen Mary University
 In conversation at the Mile End Institute: Nick Clegg

Date: 26 January 2017

Venue: Skeel Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS


Inside Government

Upcoming events cover the Northern Powerhouse, housing supply and reducing the risk and impact of flooding – see the full list here: http://www.insidegovernment.co.uk/category/events/local-government/


“It’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself.” – Danny from Danny, the Champion of the World says this about his father.

5. News and Reviews

L&D reflections and requests from new joiners

New joiners to the unit were asked to share their thoughts on what aspects of CLoG’s learning and development offers they had found useful and what they would like to see more of in the future. New joiners include new and experienced civil servants, so the below should provide food for thought for all!

Women’s events

An important part of the unit’s drive to champion diversity and inclusion could include more focus on supporting women’s success in the workplace:

“I think some of the things that really hit home with me and often motivate me to seek out further opportunities are events like the BEIS Women’s Network Inspiring Speakers”

Visits and proactive L&D

Following on from the success of opportunities like this year’s Policy School in Blackpool, there is a real appetite to get out of the office and see what the unit’s work means in practice:

“I’d be keen to do some trips out of the office to understand more about work on the ground- particularly to areas like Manchester, Lincolnshire and Cornwall”

“Having a group trip to an EZ and/or LEP would be particularly useful – especially since it’s harder to organise a trip to these individually. Maybe a combined authority as well”

Exploring the evidence base for CLoG’s work

“I joined the unit in the summer. One thing that has struck me is that I haven’t had any induction training in the theory behind our approach to local growth, regeneration and devolution. Obviously this is something I have explored myself, but it does seem an area where something formal would be useful.”

Parliamentary processes and working with ministers

“It’s easy to assume that people are aware of these but there’s a lot of politics and process to navigate and I think we might be better at the day job with a little more awareness of more structural things”

“[I’d like more on] Civil Service writing style, on briefings, submissions, letters”

Policy processes

“I’m still trying to work out the various steps involved in forming a policy (for instance, when you have to do an impact assessment). Having a session that explains this from beginning to end would help a lot.”


Where Dahl found his inspiration – now part of the Roald Dahl Museum

Shadowing Scottish Government

Sophia Berry shares her experience of shadowing the Scottish government –

After a week shadowing the Scottish Government and being hosted by the Scottish Prison Service I took away a few important reminders:

  • Links with devolved administrations are really important so we should look after them, build them and find ways to learn from each other. For example, innovative projects are often easier in smaller populations so the work in the devolved administrations can provide us with some interesting ideas for English devolution.
  • It’s really important to remember that legislation should continue to be a last resort and if there are opportunities to find solutions to problems without it we should take those forward.
  • Clear and transparent decision-making is paramount and should not be underestimated both inside departments and when working with external stakeholders
  • Leave your preconceptions at the door! I found engaged, interested, committed staff, dedicated to prisoners and embracing change in all areas to make a real difference to the lives of prisoners and their families. It was in stark contrast to how the media portrays the prison sector.

Shadowing was a great opportunity to meet new people and learn lots about topics I was interested in but previously knew nothing about. It was great to get out of the office and make new contacts, some of which I have passed on to other colleagues working in those areas so you never know when those links will come in handy. It was also a good exercise in networking, practising active listening and getting out of my comfort zone of an office in Westminster and out into the world (albeit only north of the border!)

This month’s update from GRaD

It’s been another busy month on the second floor of 2MS. We have laid four Orders before Parliament: the first of two Orders conferring powers on the Greater Manchester combined authority and three generic Orders making provision for overview and scrutiny and audit committees, the conduct of mayoral elections and the filling of vacancies in the event that a mayor is unable to act. The Orders are subject to Parliament’s ‘affirmative’ procedure, so they will be scrutinised by two committees: the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and then debated and subject to an approval motion in each House. Once they are approved by Parliament, the Minister will sign them and they will come into force.

We are also busy preparing Orders to confer powers on our other deal areas and one further generic Order to make provision for mayoral budget-setting.

Answers to the devolution crossword puzzle here: devo-wordsearch-solution


“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” This quote is from Roald Dahl’s last children’s story, The Minpins. In fact it is the very last line of that very last story.