Civil service to pilot specialist degree to train future Whitehall leaders

Civil Service Policy Profession to trial policy degree for future civil service leaders in a bid to professionalise government policy-making


By Sarah.Aston

31 Mar 2015

Civil servants seeking to move into leadership roles will be offered the opportunity to enrol on a Whitehall-specific policy masters, the Civil Service Policy Profession has announced.
The Civil Service Policy Profession – a network that works across the civil service to help develop and implement policy – is developing a pilot two-year programme at the London School of Economics (LSE) to equip civil servants with analytical tools needed to deliver effective policy.
As part of the Civil Service and London School of Economics Executive Masters of Public Policy, civil servants will be expected to apply skills to real policy scenarios, and work in teams to research answers to challenging policy issues.

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Head of the Civil Service Policy Profession and permanent secretary for the Department for Education, Chris Wormald (pictured), welcomed the partnership with LSE.

“Civil servants working in policy development have long been responsible for providing a professional service to ministers – advising on public policy decisions and ensuring the effective implementation of those decisions,” he said, adding: “But we have not, until now, had a specific professional qualification recognising the skills and knowledge needed for our work.
“Working with LSE we will now create a rigorous, academically accredited qualification for those aspiring to reach the top of our profession.”

The course will run alongside work being done in central government by Policy Profession Support Unit, based in Civil Service Learning, which runs monthly meetings of departmental heads, supports the profession’s board, and commissions and evaluates policy training. The first course is expected to be launched in December 2015, and will run for three cycles before being assessed. 

Following the 2012 Civil Service Reform plan, professionalising policy-making has been a priority for Whitehall, and in 2013 the Policy Profession Board published its Twelve Actions to Professionalise Policy. High on that agenda was ensuring that civil servants working on policy have the necessary skills and expertise, as well as a clear understanding of what works in practice.

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