May’s L & D Blog

Welcome to this guest edition of the CLoG L&D Blog. When our resident editor Maariyah asked me to pick a theme for and find some photos, I immediately thought along the lines of spring and renewal. Little did I know how fitting that would be with the surprise announcement of a general election on June 8th.

Right, while I’m the captain of this ship, I’m going to use this opportunity to give a shameless plug to my own photos that have some sort of tenuous link to the spring/renewal theme. Before that though, I’ve been trying to renew my love of reading for leisure. By that token I mean I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of money on books and left them to gather dust on my shelf. A book I have finished reading recently is Enid Blyton’s Five Go On A Strategy Away Day: one of the very few Famous Five books I never managed to locate in my community library decades ago. We all love a good away day (in fact, Ben and Joe’s division have one coming up in May!) so if you’d like to borrow my copy give me a shout!

Speaking of literature, Tom Walker mentioned, in his pre-Easter weekly note, J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine and a family trip to RSPB Wallasea Island Nature Reserve. I picked up the book and am slowly making my way through it, a few pages at a time. This review might encourage you to do the same.

Tom also mentioned in a more recent huddle that we should use the pre-election period to get out and see some places. Chris Turner and Ed Chapman are organising visits to Enterprise Zones in the coming weeks so get in touch if you’re interested. Being a fairly keen cyclist I’d pre-empted Tom’s suggestion and decided to cycle the 50 miles from my home to Wallasea Island on Easter Sunday, making it in time to catch a stunning sunset and see directly how our local growth work is indirectly supporting the reserve. It’s a great place to visit and I recommend it to anyone.

We’ll all be coming out of end of year moderation and thinking about our meeting our objectives and how we can improve in the coming year. For Muslim colleagues, Ramadhan is also approaching, a time of year when many renew their intentions to become better versions of themselves. I’ll be looking at what I want to achieve spiritually and in my personal life, as well as at work. One of things I’ve always been interested in is telling stories. Previously I did this through words, but now I’ve found a new/additional method and passion – photography. If I can help you tell the story of your area/policy with photos, do get in touch. In the mean time, get out and enjoy the remnants of spring and the photos that follow!

In this Edition…

  1. CLoG Activities
  2. BEIS and DCLG
  3. CLoG and beyond
  4. News and Reviews



    The Famous Five, like CLoG, love an away day!

1. CLoG Activities

Policy School

Tees Valley, 13-14 June

The Cities and Local Growth Unit’s Policy School is one of the teams flagship L&D opportunities.

It’s an intensive two day event that explores a range of the policy tools and techniques and provides an opportunity to apply them to develop new place-based policies. Attached is last year’s participant pack for more information.

You will be:

  • given the opportunity to hone your policy-making expertise through sessions with policy profession experts;
  • put into teams and challenged to generate a researched policy idea to support local growth in the Tees Valley (with a focus on the Industrial Strategy and inclusive growth); and
  • pitching your policy proposals to a panel including Simon Ridley, Director General for Decentralisation and Growth (DCLG) and Andrew Lewis, Managing Director (TVCA)

Work-life balance case studies –following on the from the unit’s last learning and development day, please contact Robin Froggatt-Smith for copies of the work-life balance case studies.

The unit’s next L&D day: 13th of July

The theme for the day will be “Digital” – mark/accept it in your calendar!


A visit to Wallasea Island, inspired by one of Tom Walker’s notes.

1. BEIS and DCLG



Do Something Digital

Steve O’Connor, DCLG’s new Chief Technical Officer, together with policy, communications and L&D colleagues, is putting together a Digital L&D Fortnight in May.

‘Digital Fortnight: Do something digital’, will be a major part of the Learning at Work Week and will offer a really great digital experiences for everyone.  There will be formal presentations, coaching sessions, Q&As, show and tell and ‘how to’ sessions throughout the month starting on 15th May.  The idea is that we all learn something new and relevant about digital working and do something different/new as a result. Steve is looking for people from across the business who have experience of one or more of the digital packages listed below and are willing to share it with others through a small coaching or ‘how to’ sessions:

  • Trello.
  • Survey Monkey (& equivalents).
  • Brandwatch.
  • Eventbrite.
  • Twitter.
  • Other Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat)
  • Mailchimp.
  • Slack/Basecamp.
  • WordPress.

If you are up for spreading the word and helping others develop their knowledge and skills of these or other great business digital tools (there may be others we haven’t thought of) then please get in touch with Kate Abbott (the Head of Learning and Development) asap.

3The trusty steed that transports me to places, taking in the sunset at Wallasea Island.

More information can be found on the intranet:

Selection Tools Training

Wed 10 May – 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

This training will help managers understand what selection tools are available to them and how to use them. This would be particularly useful for those who have not sifted or interviewed before and for those deciding how best to assess candidates.

Spotlight: Perspectives on Industrial Strategy – Paola Conconi on the Future of Trade

Thu 11 May – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Paola Conconi is Professor of Economics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, a Member of the European Centre for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) and Research Associate of the Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS). Her main research interests are in international trade, firm organization, and political economy. In this session, she will be speaking on the evolving nature of trade, as well as future risks and opportunities it presents.

Policy Essentials: An Introduction to Policy in DCLG (Part 1)

Fri 12 May – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Policy is a key part of what we do in DCLG. This course will give you a framework to help structure your policy thinking so that you can approach various policy challenges with confidence. Policy officials are expected to provide succinct advice to ministers so that they can take well-informed decisions.

Return to part 2 of the course to share your reflections of the application of the learning.

Performance Coaching Workshop

Mon 15 May – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

These workshops are designed to help provide managers with the tools necessary to deliver effective development focused conversations.

Building your Resilience – a Health and Wellbeing Workshop

Tue 16 May – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Delivered by Kate Abbott, Mental Health Ambassador and Mental Health First Aider

Compliant Recruitment

Tue 16 May – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

This course will help managers recruit compliantly and effectively. It will talk through the stages of the recruitment process and answer questions such as ‘how many people should be on a sift/interview panel?’

Introduction to Project Planning

Tue 16 May – 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

This course will help you understand how to effectively plan a project and some of the main reasons why projects fail.

Planning induction

Thursday 25 May


I didn’t see any peregrines at Wallasea Island, but did manage to snap this splendid swan at sunset.


DCLGs relationship with Parliament

DCLG Economic and Social Research Seminars: Spring-Summer 2017

Government 3.0: Transforming government productivity to deliver better outcomes for less Thursday 18 May 12:30-13:30 What is it about? Tera Allas, visiting Fellow at McKinsey Global Institute and former Director General at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and former Deputy Head of the Government Economic Service discusses improving the efficiency and the quality of services government agencies provide using tried and proven methods.  Who should attend? Anyone working in efficiency and reform of government services and those interested in the challenges the government face in meeting the needs of the growing, on-demand future.  Book your place:     

Economic prospects for the UK post-BREXIT When: Wednesday 21 June 12:30-13:30 What is it about? Patrick Minford, Professor of Applied Economics at Cardiff University and supporter of the Better Off Out campaign to leave the European Union discusses the economic prospects for the UK of leaving the EU.  Who should attend? Anyone working on or interested in Brexit related policies or those interested in the challenges facing the UK outside of the EU.

 Productivity performance and prospects in the UK When: Wednesday 28 June 12:30-13:30 What is it about? Sir Dave Ramsden CBE, Head of the Government Economic Service, and Chief Economic Adviser at HM Treasury discusses productivity performance  and prospects in the UK. Who should attend? Anyone interested in sustainable economic growth, macro economic sustainability, and paying less tax.

Inequalities in later life – reflections from the Centre for Ageing Better When: Tuesday 04 July 12:30-13:30 What is it about? Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better and Claire Turner, Interim Director of Evidence discuss the Centre for Ageing Better’s work on inequalities in later life. Who should attend? Anyone working on or interested in social care and those wanting to enjoy later life to the fullest or will one day be old.


I also captured a kestrel in Bushy Park a few weeks ago, which is about as close as you can get to a peregrine, I think.

There are many nature reserves in London and the UK, and having explored a number of them I have to say Bushy Park is my firm favourite with its wonderful mix of well-tended plantations, its wilder fields and an abundant variety of flora and fauna.



Parliamentary Questions and how you can improve your performance

24 May, 2017

If the thought of staring at a blank PQ template fills you with horror, worry no more. This session provides all the essentials you need to draft effective PQ answers, and will give you an insight as to the importance of PQs to the department and the wider political process.

Statutory Instruments/Laying Papers

24 May, 2017

Do you know your Negatives from your Affermatives? Do you know your Acts from your Command Papers? Then come along to this session to find out what we need and what’s involved.

Select Committees

24 May, 2017

Finding Committees a cause for confusion? This interactive session will familiarise attendees with Select Committee procedure and give a detailed overview of the inquiry process from beginning to end.

The legislative process

24 May, 2017

The legislative process – how does this work and let’s look at lessons learned. Are you new to working on a bill? Then this is the session for you.

Select Committee Drop-In

5 June, 2017

Interested in learning more about Select Committees? Drop in and have a chat


Other BEIS events/opportunities

BEIS Academy Seminar: An Introduction to Financial Markets

8 May, 2017 10:00 am

We all know that around £200Bn investment requirement in UK energy infrastructure is dependent on private sector funding, this seminar is open to anyone who wishes to learn more about the finance community and its role in financing energy (and energy efficiency) investment. No prior knowledge is required.

Spotlight: Perspectives on Industrial Strategy – Professor Paola Conconi

11 May, 2017 2:00 pm

Paola Conconi on the evolving nature of trade, and its future risks and opportunities.

BEIS Academy Seminar: Electricity Interconnection – panacea for the energy trilemma?

15 May, 2017 10:00 am

This seminar is for all BEIS staff interested in understanding the biggest change to energy systems over the next decade.

Commercial Skills- Module 1- Energy Markets

17 May, 2017 9:00 am

This workshop will focus on Electricity & Gas markets in the UK, the International perspective and alternatives to the UK model, and trading strategies.

Commercial Skills- Module 2- Financial Markets

18 May, 2017 9:00 am

This module will take a detailed look at sources of finance including debt, equity, project finance and analysis (including risk analysis).

BEIS Academy Seminar: Introduction to Climate Change Science – Fact, Fiction and Future

22 May, 2017 2:00 pm

This seminar is aimed at all BEIS staff who would like a better understanding of the science, facts, fiction, and challenges surrounding climate change. It will be particularly useful to new starters or existing staff seeking to update or refresh their knowledge of climate change.

BEIS Academy Seminar: Introduction to Local Growth, Energy and Devolution

22 May, 2017 2:00 pm

The seminar will provide participants with the key information on local energy and the work that is being delivered at a local level and help them understand how devolution affects their work

BEIS Academy Seminar: How to Review the Quality of Evidence Properly

23 May, 2017 2:00 pm

This seminar starts by covering the common misuse of the terms, ‘literature review’ and ‘evidence review’, and then shows how evidence quality can be assessed quantitatively to determine what evidence is deemed to be of a high enough quality to inform policy development


Spotlight: Perspectives on Industrial Strategy – Professor Philip McCann

25 May, 2017 2:00 pm

Philip McCann on ‘Meso-level’ institutions and Industrial Strategy.

BEIS Academy Seminar: An Introduction to Devolution

Event 12 June, 2017

This seminar will provide participants with the key information they need on devolution and help them understand how devolution affects their work.

BEIS Academy Seminar: Introduction to Local Growth, Energy and Devolution

26 June, 2017 2:00 pm

The seminar will provide participants with the key information on local energy and the work that is being delivered at a local level and help them understand how devolution affects their work.

BEIS Academy Seminar: Introduction to Risk Management in BEIS

Event 28 June, 2017

The seminar is an introductory session designed for all staff who would like a basic overview of BEIS new risk management framework/ may not have had a great deal of experience of risk management and would like the opportunity to develop their skills accordingly. The seminar will also be of benefit to staff who wish to refresh their existing risk management skills and for new entrants to BEIS to gain an overview of how the department approaches risk management.


3. CLoG and beyond

In Conversation with Robert Peston: ‘Brexit Britain’

Date: 6:00PM, 11 May 2017

Venue: Peston Lecture Theatre, Mile End Road

Inside Government

Income Generation forum

Tuesday 16th May 2017

Congress Centre, London WC1B 3LS

This forum will explore innovative and effective methods to generate income, as local authority budgets have been reduced by up to 40% in the last few years.

Delegates attending will hear from keynote speakers outlining Government plans to increase local government power, generating income through legal services provision, and successfully creating a joint venture to raise income.

View the agenda and book a place online

Westminster Policy Forum

Next steps for regional development and local devolution deals

Morning, Thursday, 22nd June 2017

Central London

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • Assessing the current landscape for regional development;
  • Next steps for developing the Northern Powerhouse;
  • Progressing devolution deals, with focus on funding, managing risk and attracting investment;
  • Opportunities for improving international connectivity to support growth;
  • Driving growth across the country, as outlined in the Industrial Strategy;
  • The future for regional development policy, with Tom Walker, Director, Cities & Local Growth Unit.

Priorities for transport in London and the South East: infrastructure, funding, and the Mayor’s Transport Strategy

Morning, Thursday, 29th June 2017, Central London

Fake news – scope, public trust and options for policy

Morning, Thursday, 13th July 2017 Central London


Patrick Walker, Director of Media Partnerships EMEA, Facebook

Next steps for technical education in England – T-levels, implementing the Post-16 Skills Plan and financial sustainability

Morning, Monday, 3rd July 2017

Central London

This timely conference will examine reforms to technical education in England and implementation of the Post-16 Skills Plan.

Devolution and economic growth in London – assessing the impact of London’s devolution agreement on infrastructure, competitiveness and skills

Morning, Tuesday, 11th July 2017

Central London

Transport in the North of England: infrastructure, economic growth and devolution

Morning, Tuesday, 18th July 2017, Central Manchester

National Infrastructure forum

13th June 2017 at ExCeL in London

Full agenda for the day can be found here.


Personal Development plan – CSL Learning

To help you get started, why not explore CSL’s most popular topics from the curriculum, as rated by civil servants. The objective setting topic is well worth investigating and managers have also been upskilling themselves with topics on giving feedback and coaching skills. There’s a trend towards making an impact, with learners interested in presenting confidently and engaging people through story-telling. Unconscious bias features prominently, representing our shared objective of building a diverse and inclusive workforce. Alongside these a handful of more personal topics, such as first aid at work, are proving popular.

WIG events

A full list of the 2017 events can be found here.

Mallika Ishwaran, Senior Economist, Shell

Thursday 04 May 2017, 08:00 – 10:00

London, Breakfast Briefing

Industry Visit: SAP – An insight into Digital Transformation

Tuesday 09 May 2017, 10:00 – 14:00, Feltham Visit

Delivering on the UK’s emissions reduction targets: a collaborative approach Thursday 18 May

Managing the 60 year career – Alison Wilcox, Group HR Director, BT Tuesday 23 May

Breakfast briefing by Jonathan Slater – Permanent Secretary, Department for Education Thursday 25 May

Commissioning masterclass for providers of public services Thursday 25 May

Alex Chisholm, Permanent Secretary, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Tuesday 20 June 2017, 08:00 – 10:00, London

Breakfast Briefing

Cambridge Political Economy Society

Globalisation in Crisis? The Urban and Regional Challenges of the Great Instability Conference


Thursday, July 13, 2017 – Friday, July 14, 2017, 09:00 – 17:30

The themes for the conference will include:

  • The Crisis of neoliberal Globalisation
  • Financialisation & its future
  • Inclusive Growth
  • Future of Cities
  • Europe after Brexit
  • Regional Theory in a post crisis world
  • Industrial Strategy: Where to next?
  • Reindustrialising regions
  • Shifting relations in the world economy


4. News and Reviews

This month, Dorothy Dray has kindly followed up with some top tips that she took away from a recent DCLG-run event on Making the Most of Ministerial Visit:


  • programmes and places which would particularly benefit from a ministerial visit – particularly where these:
    • span more than one policy area: e.g. boosting local growth, skills; driving up housing supply; supporting stronger communities etc.
    • span geographies, social, economic and environmental contexts, where possible
    • demonstrate recognised best practice
    • will deepen ministerial understanding and insight in relation to particular policy challenges and opportunities.
    • expose the minister to critical policy challenges and opportunities which are best understood through exposure to frontline practice or engagement with particular external stakeholders
    • put ministers in touch with people they wouldn’t otherwise meet
    • build and maintain key relationships


  • opportunities for joint visits with OGDs
  • social media activities and photo opportunities ahead of and during visits – drafting tweets for digital side / photos for twitter once there can ensure you get the right press or communications angle and best photo opportunities.

Take into account

  • the current political landscape and current affairs
  • individual ministerial interests, as well as their portfolio responsibilities
  • the target demographic of each policy / project and how this relates to the demographics of those covered by the visit
  • key stakeholders – national and local, ensure those affected are covered by the visits strategy
  • local considerations and sensitive issues.


  • Horizon scan – tie together visits with policy announcements wherever possible*
  • Forward plan media and possible interviews, and lines to take to avoid bear traps for the Minister
  • Work with ministerial visits teams across OGDs to ensure strategic alignment.
  • Work closely with policy teams and External Comms teams in the relevant government departments to develop and implement the visits strategy
  • Ensure feedback from visits is shared back to policy teams to inform policy development, and future visits planning.


Finally, with these books, cycling adventures and escape into nature I’ve been renewing and fulfilling my childhood passions, identifying links between literature and landscapes, and developing my relationship with both. Here’s a pic of me ‘allowing’ myself to be photo-bombed on a mountain adventure last bank holiday weekend. It was in aid of Palestinian and Syrian orphans, so if anybody would like to donate you can do so at

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