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Back to school

Summer School Study Group.cropped

In DWP we’re passionate about building capability for our people and giving them the right skills to do the job. One of the ways we do this is by offering the opportunity to ‘go back to school’. In the same week most schools go back, DWP Summer School runs annually, and makes up a year-long programme for those taking part. I’m a senior sponsor taking responsibility for a study group of ten students, a role I took on last year and that I’m delighted to be doing again.

Photo Joanne Bradshaw.resized

Shared experiences

During the residential that takes place at King's College, Cambridge, I’ll work with my study group on a project that they will be asked to progress over the next year. I’ll be spending some time at Kings supporting the group and helping them to develop their project approach, and they will present this to the whole Summer School group on the final day. I’ll act as a mentor and coach providing support to the group, helping them to build their capability during the year, and their project will be something that can add real business value.

Summer School brings together people from all parts of DWP to share experiences and build capability. Colleagues from all areas of DWP can apply to take part, providing an opportunity for talented people to develop new skills, connect with others and unlock their potential.

Supportive technology

Nick Dale a Technical Delivery Manager has attended Summer School over the last three years, firstly as a student and then as a study group facilitator. This year he is co-ordinating technology input into the Summer School programme. Last year Nick worked with me and my group looking at DWP’s high-level 2020 Transformation vision and ways we could share developments and provide helpful direction for colleagues across the organisation. This year we’re using improved technology to capture ideas, we’ve got bespoke ‘design and presentation’ Apps, and we’re using photo / video capture to help our students record their discussions and support them in the presentation of their projects on the final day of the residential.


As a woman leading a programme on the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in some critical digital projects that underpin DWPs 2020 transformation. This year we have also invested heavily in building digital capability within the department. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with this year’s Summer School students.

During the Summer School students will take part in a mixture of lectures and study group sessions. This will help to influence the way they approach both the project they’ve been given and their day jobs. It will give them the opportunity to focus on real challenges for the department and help drive solutions. It’s fully supported by our most senior people, with our Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux and other Executive Team members taking part and sharing their views on the latest developments in the department.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for our people and many of our Summer School graduates have gone on to change job roles, gain promotion and take on mentoring roles themselves as a result of their experience. Last year a Mentor App was launched for Summer School that allowed students to review mentor profiles and make connections. The App was developed by in-house DWP developers consolidating their recent digital training. It was a great way for some of our people to grow their digital skills.

I’m really looking forward to working with the Summer School class of 2016 and getting involved in this year’s project with my study group.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Fiona Boubert posted on

    Inspiring article Jo. My Summer School Group recently launched our project myDWP for staff on the intranet homepage.