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Future Directors Programme

The application process for places on Cohort 4 of Future Directors Programme is now closed.

The Future Directors Programme, which is part of the ‘Leadership for Change’ suite of programmes, is an ongoing collaboration between the Staff College and Public Health England. The programme has evolved from other senior leadership programmes offered to aspiring directors across the public sector and provides an opportunity for senior officers to jointly prepare for the next phase of their careers and learn from each other. 

The Future Directors Programme is a leadership development programme for senior leaders who are ambitious both for themselves and for the people that they serve. The programme has been constructed around two, three day residential seminars, which will introduce participants to a way of thinking about leadership which acknowledges that, when dealing with the most significant decisions, there is no manual to hand with a straightforward set of instructions about what to do next. By the end of the programme, participants will be better able to exert influence, and gain consent for pragmatic solutions based on a shared commitment to a strong sense of public value.

The implication of this is that the step up to a director level role requires a willingness to embrace and handle volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity which are now the characteristics of senior leadership challenges in the public sector. This programme is about finding ways of working successfully in a difficult and unpredictable space, where you may be alone, but you can’t operate in isolation, where you may have to take risks, but your first concern has to be for the welfare of others.

The objectives of the programme are:

  • To introduce participants to a number of ‘core concepts’ about leadership in the public sector, including ‘adaptive’ leadership, public value and systems thinking
  • To share thinking about the contribution and value of citizen and community capital in delivering improved public welfare outcomes
  • To help participants explore their own potential for leadership at the most senior level and develop the resilience needed to cope with the demands that it will make on them
  • To provide a safe learning environment for participants to review their practice and work in depth with others on a personal ‘leadership challenge’
  • To prepare for the challenge of operating at director level, as a leader, as a member of an executive team, and as a key player in the wider system.

Who can apply?

Applications are welcomed from individuals who work at 2nd tier or equivalent roles and come from, but are not limited to, the following disciplines:

  • Public Health
  • Children, Young People and Family Services
  • Adult Services
  • CCGs
  • Commissioning
  • Education professionals
  • Other Local Authority disciplines such as Housing, Community Services etc.
  • Voluntary and Community Sector (where there is direct involvement in the provision of public services)
  • Private Sector (where there is direct involvement in the provision of public services)
  • Housing Associations

Priority will be given to applications from individuals who are able to demonstrate their aspiration and readiness to step up to a director level role in Public Health and Children, Young People and Family Services, as well as 2nd tier officers with extended remits (i.e. people services roles). However, there will also be a number of places available on this cohort for senior leaders from other disciplines (stated above).

What’s involved?

Successful applicants are offered a variety of learning methods including residential activity, small group work, peer support and challenge, as well as the opportunity to be part of a learning community. This enables participants to develop a highly personalised learning experience that reflects their professional and personal circumstances, as well as meeting their individual learning and development needs.

What to expect?

The programme features:

  • A competitive assessment process
  • A one day Development Centre
  • 2 x 3 day residential seminars
  • A one day Leadership Workshop
  • A one day End of Programme seminar


Programme duration is 6 months, which allows flexibility for individual participants. Participants are expected to commit to attending each of the face-to-face elements of the programme for the duration in order to successfully complete the programme.


Places for aspiring Directors of Public Health will be fully subsidised by Public Health England/Department of Health. The cost for those participants not from Public Health is £1500 + VAT per participant. (Please refer to Eligibility Criteria)


The application round for places on cohort 4 of the programme is now closed. If you would like to expression an interest for future cohorts of the programme please e-mail

Leadership Centre NHS Leadership Academy Public Health England The Staff College