News and Developments

Torfaen County Borough Council graduate to success


A group of staff from across Public Services, including two County Borough Councillors from Torfaen, have graduated with Masters’ degrees in Professional Practice (Leadership in Public Services). Councillors Richard Clark and Fiona Cross are the first County Borough Councillors in Wales to achieve this unique award.

The Masters’ qualification is the final award in a pioneering partnership between Torfaen County Borough Council, IF Development and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David which commenced in 2010 and has involved several public sector organisations within the Torfaen Local Service Board area. Its aim is to assist senior managers and elected members in public sector organisation to develop a values based approach to leadership, enable participants to build a personal leadership profile to underpin the way they work, engage with a range of stakeholders and build upon the skills that are essential for managing the process of service design and delivery.

Councillor Clark said during the graduation ceremony on Tuesday, 9 July at the University’s Carmarthen campus “The qualification has enabled me to develop and make progress within the Council by providing me with the background knowledge to take a strategic overview and to have courage to make those decisions”.

Councillor Fiona Cross added, “I was new to the Council and did not have any formal leadership training. Councillors come to the role from all walks of life and backgrounds and so this qualification has been extremely useful to my role as it has enabled me to develop and refine the skills that I already had”.

The innovative approach to leadership development was the brainchild of Christina Harrhy, Chief Officer for Neighbourhood Services at Torfaen County Borough Council, who was awarded a “Leader of the Future” award in the Leading Wales Awards in 2011. Ms Harrhy commented “With greater expectations from citizens, public services need to re-evaluate how they deliver their services to provide better value, focussing on a ‘citizen centred’ approach. In developing this programme with our partners we acknowledged that such a radical approach would require strong, well informed, forward thinking and open minded leaders to ensure good practice is woven throughout all public service agencies. This innovative leadership programme has resulted in tangible benefits for the citizens of Torfaen”.

The programme commenced with a Postgraduate Certificate (Leadership in Public Service) and was designed and developed by Torfaen County Borough Council, delivered by consultancy IF Development and accredited through the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s innovative and award-winning Professional Practice Framework (PPF). On completion of the PGCert learners proceeded to complete postgraduate diplomas or masters’ awards. The PPF allowed learners to achieve both professional and personal goals whilst also being able to incorporate their recent learning and experience through the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).”

The programme was delivered using innovative methods, including a strong focus on action learning sets which facilitated learning and took note of the differing needs of individual learners. Through the innovative style of learning participants were encouraged to ask searching questions of themselves and reflect on their own actions.

The next cohort of learners will commence in January 2014. Dr Liz Wilson, Associate Professor of Work-based Learning, said “We congratulate our graduates and are very proud of their achievement. The University’s Professional Practice Framework, which has underpinned this provision, has been a conduit through which public sector organisations have been able to find innovative approaches to develop excellent citizen-centres public service delivery”.

Note to Editor

  1. For more information please contact Eleri Beynon, Head of Communications and PR, UWTSD
  2. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was established in 2010 from the merger of the University of Wales Lampeter and Trinity University College under the 1828 Royal Charter, making it the oldest higher education institution in Wales. On 1 October Swansea Metropolitan University became a part of the University but will continue to promote its own brand.
  3. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David works in collaboration with FE partners in the region. Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion are currently undertaking due diligence for full merger into the University by the end of the academic year.