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A review of the first cross-government Digital Academy

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Sommer and Sandra are graduates of the first cross-government Digital Academy. It was held in February this year, shortly before the Digital Academy celebrated its first birthday. Sandra works in the Legal Aid Agency; and Sommer within the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre. They talk about their experience of the cross-government Digital Academy here.

Sandra Berry
Sandra Berry - Legal Aid Agency

I was at CS Live in Newcastle in July 2014 and one of the presentations from DWP was ‘Digital Transformation in Government’. DWP had introduced a Digital Academy to build capability and push the digital transformation. This was like a light-bulb moment for me and my first thought was this is exactly what the Legal Aid Agency needs. I focussed on finding out more about how the Academy was set up, how it worked and how successful this had been.

I joined the first cross-government Digital Academy and, although I was nervous and not sure what to expect as I had never worked with the agile methodology, I needn’t have worried. The opportunity surpassed my expectations of what could be achieved in a very short time.

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such a fantastic group and extraordinary leaders at the Academy.

If government departments are really looking to transform peoples’ lives they need to have an Academy at their departments exactly the same as the one at the DWP.

I had an amazing time and have never felt so empowered to look forward to the future and really transform peoples’ lives.

Sommer Croft
Sommer Croft - Health and Social Care Information Centre

I had a different background to many of the other Digital Academy cohorts; I’d worked as part of an agile team for 2 years delivering the new backend infrastructure for the NHS, and was a Scrum Master for 5 months.

The cross-government Digital Academy was a fantastic experience for me; it consolidated so much of my learning and taught me new tools and techniques which I know I will be able to introduce within my organisation.


Several of my cohorts and I had a debate on whether DWP was the right government department to run the cross-government Digital Academy; and if it should be managed centrally by someone such as GDS. We all came to the conclusion that DWP were excellently placed to run this and establish a cross-government community as all cohorts felt at ease and could be open and honest around issues within their own departments; as well as having discussions on how to resolve these issues. If we’re truly going to transform digital services for citizens in the UK we need every government department to be taking this forward for their services and users.

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