On Tuesday 3 January 2023, staff at Nottingham College celebrated their completion of Stepping On – the college’s equivalent of the Skills and Education Group’s Emerging Leaders programme.

Emerging Leaders is a leadership development programme designed to help further education staff step up and lead. It has been delivered to individuals at several organisations through both open and bespoke cohorts.

At the event, staff received their certificates of achievement from Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of the Skills and Education Group, and Karen Plowman, Head of Professional Development and Learning. Some participants shared their feedback on the programme, while members of the college leadership team were also present.

Here are some of the key benefits of the programme shared by staff on the day.

Using strengths to lead effectively

Like all cohorts of our Emerging Leaders programme, the Stepping On programme includes CliftonStrengths training. The CliftonStrengths online assessment enables individuals to discover their unique talents and use these to maximise their potential. Through taking the assessment, and by working with CliftonStrengths coach Hannah Miller, participants learn how they can use their strengths to lead effectively.

At the celebration event, several staff mentioned the benefits of the CliftonStrengths training.

Alex Stewart, Wellbeing Mentor Senior Lead, said this was her favourite part of the programme. She said she wants to “put her strengths on a wall” so that she has a constant reminder of them and can use them whenever she encounters a problem.

Claire Noble, Quality Improvement Manager, said she “couldn’t believe how accurate the strengths report was” while Martha Mairura, HR Officer, said she “learnt a lot about herself” through the strengths training, and that this was a “confidence booster”.

Helping staff to take the next step in their career

Participants shared how the Stepping On programme has already made an impact on their careers. Alex said that her completion of Stepping On enabled her to gain a new role in which she is managing a team of 41 people. She is putting the learnings from the programme into practice, and it has helped her to communicate more clearly with her team.

Martha used her new understanding of her strengths to apply for an internal opportunity and managed to secure the job. She is now doing further leadership training and qualifications to develop her knowledge even more.

The feedback shared by participants also evidenced the relevance of the programme to staff in different job roles and at different stages. Richard Buckley, Blended Learning Manager, had just started his leadership role when he was made aware of Stepping On and said he “never thought leadership was something you have to learn – I thought I already knew it”. Completing the programme has increased his understanding of leadership.

Furthermore, Saf Khan said that the programme was useful to him because it has made him think about new ways to develop staff – a key part of his role as Learning Resource Centre Manager.

An opportunity to work with new people

The Stepping On programme brought together staff from a wide variety of departments at Nottingham College. All cohorts of Emerging Leaders involve Action Learning Sets, in which participants are put into small groups to work on a particular project, and this was also the case with Stepping On. Staff spoke about how much they enjoyed and benefited from working with new people.

Martha said this was the first time she had worked with others from across the college; she said her Action Learning Set gave her the chance to hear “different perspectives and feedback”. Richard enjoyed the opportunity to “share values and insights with others in the college”, while Claire said she liked being taken away from her desk for the day to focus on professional development with others.

At the end of the event, Janet Smith, Principal and Chief Executive of Nottingham College, said that “enduring friendships” had formed through the programme, while Karen encouraged participants to stay in touch with each other and continue learning.

 Want to develop your staff’s leadership skills?

Along with Nottingham College, many other further education organisations have used our Emerging Leaders programme to support aspiring staff into leadership. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, the programme also covers a policy overview, further education funding, the role of management, communication skills, and much more.

To find out more about this programme or to express an interest in using it for your own staff, please get in touch with our Professional Development team.

To view other professional development opportunities offered by the Skills and Education Group, visit our Events or Training pages. You may also be interested to hear about the pilot cohort of our Diversity Mentoring programme, which concluded recently.


We offer a range of bespoke training programmes that you can use to develop your staff.

Browse them on our Training page