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What's in a name?

Many of you will know that alongside my role as Director of Children, Schools and Families in the London Borough of Camden I also Chair the Board at the Virtual Staff College (VSC). Some of you will, like me, have participated in the national leadership programme for directors of children’s services and many more of you will have attended other events run by the VSC during your career. Through the work of the College, directors, assistant directors and other system leaders, have developed a common language and a common set of reference points; wicked issues, systems leadership, adaptive leadership, Mark Moore’s Strategic Triangle (Public, Value and Proposition), balcony thinking, moral purpose and who could forget VUCA! (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, for the uninitiated). By applying these constructs and ideas in our own local contexts we have been able to build system capacity, create compelling narratives about our aspirations for children and young people and, through influence where we don’t have formal control, navigate the choppy waters of the changing policy, regulatory and fiscal environment we’re all operating in.

You may be aware that, since the government grant came to an end we, at the VSC, have been engaging with the children’s services community to fundamentally review our offer and to make sure that we can meet the development needs of directors and aspiring leaders in the future. A huge thanks to all of you who have attended focus groups, responded to surveys, or engaged in other ways during the last year. I’m pleased to say that the VSC Board has now completed its review and that the details of the new offer will be launched next week. Along with a fantastic prospectus and the new subscription scheme, we’re reflecting the views expressed to us in the consultation about the name. The Virtual Staff College handle came out of a specific historical context but it no longer really works in the digital age. So we are dropping the ‘virtual’ bit and will be known as the Staff College from now on. It’s a new name for a new era but you can still expect the same innovation, high standards, and passion. We’re delighted that the ADCS brand will still appear in the Staff College logo representing the continuing close relationship between the College and the Association.

In many ways that’s the point, the Staff College is our College. It is the intellectual and professional space where we develop our individual and collective leadership; a space where we transmit our knowledge, wisdom and values to the next generation of leaders; and a learning community where we support and inspire each other to do better for children, young people and families. However, it only works if we engage with it and support it. So when you see the new prospectus and logo please look at it, discuss it, let us know what you think of it, and, most of all, make use of it. After all it is ours.

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