The government has set out the objectives for its renamed National Leadership Centre – its cross-public sector training academy.
The Cabinet Office published plans for the academy for top public servants – then called the Centre for Public Leadership – last October alongside the Autumn Budget. The centre is expected to formally launch in September.
The department has now published fresh objectives for what it is now calling the NLC, which it describes as “a national offer for the most senior leaders of public services in England”.
One of those objectives will be to deliver a “flagship leadership programme” for around 100 public sector leaders a year, the guidance states, confirming an estimate given to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee by Sir Gerry Grimstone, the author of the report that led to the centre’s establishment, earlier this year.
The guidance also adds that it aims to reach a further 1,500 leaders through its planned digital platform, which will establish a peer-learning network and support for those not accepted to the central cohort.
And the centre will also work to lead “high quality research to develop a better understanding of the relationships between leadership, well-being and productivity”, it said.
The centre has been renamed with little fanfare. A notice today on the Cabinet Office website said terms of reference for the Centre for Public Leadership had been withdrawn because the CSPL “is now the National Leadership Centre”.
According to the updated guidance, published yesterday, the centre will train public servants in England but work “closely” with its counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It added: “The NLC is not duplicating or replacing the excellent provision offered by service-specific leadership academies, and instead works collaboratively across all public services.”
Giving evidence to PACAC the same day as the updated guidance was published, government chief people officer Rupert McNeil fended off concerns that the centre would replicate some of the functions of the Civil Service Leadership Academy.
He stressed that the NLC would be part of a “complementary ecosystem” and repeated Grimstone’s description of the centre as a “capstone” sitting at the top of different public service silos to enable leaders in each to learn from each other.
McNeil added that civil servants would make up only a small proportion of each cohort to enrol at the centre. But although “very few” director generals will attend, he said they will make an important contribution to the NLC’s work.
He told MPs: “We do have to be very vigilant that this whole system doesn’t fragment, that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and I would definitely welcome this committee playing a very active role in helping to make sure we do that.”