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Senior managers and leaders

Pathway 4: practice leaders

Current and aspiring assistant directors
12 months
Time commitment
90 hours (the equivalent of 11 days)

Free except for travel for in-person modules

Delivered by


Who it’s for

Pathway 4 is for assistant directors in local authorities who are responsible for the performance of multiple service areas. 

Experienced heads of service who want to become assistant directors can also do Pathway 4.

What you’ll learn

Completing Pathway 4 will help you:     

  • lead innovation and advocate for system change
  • navigate and influence political and corporate systems
  • make anti-racist and anti-oppressive central to your strategy
  • use data, research and best practice to measure success, manage risk and improve delivery
  • focus on the work that makes the most difference to children and families
  • maintain morale and resilience in challenging times

What you’ll get

When you finish Pathway 4 you’ll get:

It'll help prepare:

  • assistant directors to access the Upon programme for directors of children’s services
  • aspiring assistant directors for promotion to assistant director roles

How it’s delivered


Pathway 4:

  • lasts for 12 months
  • takes about 90 hours to complete
  • runs once a year starting in November

In-person learning

There are 4 days on-site at the University of Warwick run as separate 2-day residentials.

Sessions are run by social work leaders and leadership development experts and include:

  • keynote talks
  • discussion time
  • practical workshops
  • time to build relationships with peers

There are also ‘shadowing’ days where you’ll be able to follow and observe leaders in other local authorities.

Online learning


  • live interactive workshops run by sector experts
  • one-to-one coaching with a dedicated development coach
  • peer-led practice groups
  • self-directed study sessions with a mix of reading, videos and reflection

You'll do about 35 hours of online learning. Each session lasts 1.5 to 3 hours.


Pathway 4 is funded by the Department for Education.

Accommodation and meals for the on-site days are included, but your employer will need to cover travel costs.

Next steps

Applications for Pathway 4 are currently closed.

We'll update this page when applications open.