Prospective applicants will need to complete the application process with the support of a sponsor. This process will identify and establish whether a potential applicant meets the eligibility criteria. Those individuals who are deemed through the assessment process to have development needs that cannot be met by the programme, will receive constructive feedback to support their future development. The application and assessment process comprises a number of steps. These are:

  1. a) Sponsor conversation

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their intention to apply to the programme with a potential sponsor who should be a senior colleague, usually a line manager, who knows the applicant well and is fully aware of their experience and expertise. It is recommended that the sponsor should normally be in a Director or Chief Officer within the participant’s field of expertise.

Applicants and potential sponsors should be aware of what is involved, both when applying and during the programme itself. The sponsor will provide the initial support to potential applicants, helping them understand whether the programme can meet their development needs. They will also need to become familiar with the applicant’s current development and learning needs and be prepared to support them through the programme. Sponsor Guidance can be downloaded here.

Once individuals have made the decision to apply for the programme, the applicant and the sponsor will need to complete the online application form and the sponsor nomination form, both of which can be found at The online application requires the applicant to answer five questions, which will demonstrate their suitability for the programme, their commitment to professional development and their future aspirations.

  1. b) Sponsor nomination form

The applicant will provide details of their nominated sponsor in their online application form. An email will be sent to the sponsor with a link to complete an online form. The questions asked in the form will be provided in the initial email for sponsors to reflect on before completing the online form. Applications will only be processed if the sponsor nomination form is submitted by the deadline.

The following questions will be asked in the sponsor nomination form:

  • Why is the person in this nomination ready for further development through the Future Directors Programme?
  • What do you see as the main strengths of the applicant, in terms of the requirements for a Director post in public services? It may be helpful to reference your response to one of the competency frameworks below in order to highlight key areas of knowledge, skills, attitudes and achievements etc. and also the emerging system leadership capabilities outlined in the ‘Leadership for Change’ research report.
  • Are there any additional areas that this sponsor nomination form has not identified, which you think may be helpful to the assessors in assessing the applicant’s suitability for the Programme?

The role of the sponsor is critical throughout the programme. You will be asked to provide ongoing support to those whom you sponsor throughout the duration of the programme, acting as both a mentor and critical friend and providing practical support as well as professional challenge to enhance their learning. In completing this form, you may find it helpful to consider the descriptions of the sort of competencies required for these roles. Examples of these from various health, social care and system leadership perspectives can be found at:

In submitting this form, the sponsor is confirming that they are prepared to support the applicant in their initial application and throughout the programme. Sponsors will receive an online notice that the form has been completed successfully and that their part of the process is complete. Sponsor Guidance can be downloaded here.

The amount of time that a Sponsor needs to commit will vary according to the individual needs of your applicant.

  1. Independent review of application forms

All application forms will be considered by independent assessors, who are trained to ensure consistency and fairness in vetting applications. The assessors will be considering the evidence presented in the application form. The information provided on the Sponsor Form may be taken into account by assessors when making their decision. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of this assessment in the timeframe outlined in the Programme flyer. All applications will be anonymised prior to assessment.

Those individuals, who are deemed through the assessment process to have development needs that cannot be met by the programme, will receive constructive feedback and will be signposted to other development opportunities to support their future professional growth.

If applicants feel that they have grounds for appeal against a decision they submit their appeal in writing within five days of the date of the email advising them of the assessment panel’s decision. Full details of the appeals process, including grounds for appeal, can be found on here. An Appeals Form can be downloaded here

  1. Participants identified

If applicants are successful in this process, they will be awarded a place on the programme. Successful applicants will then be invited to attend a development centre, designed to help them establish their learning objectives for the programme.

The application process for Cohort 4 will open on the 24th October 2016.

If you have any queries or wish to register your interest for future cohorts please contact: [email protected]

The Future Directors Programme is subject to a cancellation policy: