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Renaissance and Reformation

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A quiet revolution is under way, gentle yet insistent as the growing daylight at this time of year; and while the cynic in me had, at first, smiled to hear that so tenaciously traditional an institution as the Civil Service was set on a course of reform, the eternal optimist who exists alongside - like a Henry Jekyll to the cynic’s Edward Hyde - had imagined possibilities, dared to hope and decided to take a peek. Now, a few short months later, I find myself attending my second Discovery Session along with seventeen other colleagues from various departments including HMCTS, HMRC, HMPS and DWP, at the Home and Communities Agency’s Arpley House in Warrington.

Garry McGinily, from Civil Service Learning, began the session by introducing the Engaging Our Young People, Schools Programme. Part of the Reform’s Social Justice agenda, the initiative aims to encourage, in our young people, positive attitudes towards their future employment prospects, and to raise expectations - particularly where these may have been limited due to social factors. At the same time, staff members who volunteer for the programme are presented with opportunities to develop their own skills in leading, presenting and mentoring, as they prepare and deliver their particular course to pupils from a neighbouring school.

Next, HMPO’s Helen Clarke delivered an interactive workshop examining issues relating to bullying, harassment and unwanted conduct in the workplace. Informed by the Equality and Respect programme, the session - using filmed drama and documentary sequences - explored factors such as stereotyping, prejudice and workplace culture, which may be an underlying factor in these behaviours. Each scenario considered a particular diversity issue and was followed by frank, well informed and perceptive discussion, some participants referencing experiences from the real-life workplace.

Conversations at the close of the session indicated that Garry’s evident enthusiasm had inspired several to consider implementing a schools project in their own local communities, while many felt empowered to more effectively challenge and tackle unwanted conduct, in its many manifestations, by Helen’s contribution. A great result!

Civil Service staff wishing to learn more about the schools project can contact Tony Jennings - - (secondary schools) or Gemma Harris - - (primary schools).

This Discovery Session, together with the Parliamentary Outreach Session are currently ‘on tour’ around the North West, with Operational Delivery sessions soon to be added. I’m glad I’ve grabbed the developmental opportunities which Civil Service Reform brings our way; all I can say is “make the Reform work, and make it work for you”.

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