About the curriculum
The GCS curriculum is designed to make it easier for you to access learning and development resources to plan and prioritise your personal development. As a profession, it will help us achieve consistently higher standards.
On this page:
- What is in the curriculum
- Planning and recording your learning
- What you need to do next
- Frequently asked questions
What is in the curriculum
The GCS Curriculum is a collection of guidance, content and recommended reading.
Learning is divided into 3 levels – practitioner, advanced and expert – to help you plan the order of your learning. Some resources are categorised by discipline (for example Strategic Communications, Marketing) to help you select learning that is relevant to your current or future role.
The curriculum will be regularly updated with new learning resources so revisit these pages every time you review and update your Personal Development Plan (PDP).
The content of the curriculum is organised by grade:
- Executive Officer (EO) curriculum
- Higher Executive Officer (HEO) curriculum
- Senior Executive Officer (SEO) curriculum
- Grades 7 and 6 curriculum
The GCS Curriculum is award-winning. It won the Gold Award for the Skilled category at the Public Service Communications Academy. It has been recognised for upskilling the profession and improving the capability of communication professionals. Read the news story.
Planning and recording your learning
Download the Personal Development Plan template:
Plan your personal development (PDP download) (Word, 1 page, 35KB)
Use it to plan your learning and development for the year with your manager. You are expected to reach a minimum of 30 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points per year. Most of your CPD points should come from ‘on the job’ learning – roughly 70%. 20% should come from learning from relationships (like mentoring) and the final 10% through formal training and resources.
What you need to do next
- Familiarise yourself with the curriculum content for your grade
- Reflect on gaps in your knowledge and skills and how you plan to gain that experience
- Download the PDP template and start to plan out your learning and development ahead of meeting with your line manager
Frequently asked questions
- About the curriculum
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points
- Personal Development Plan (PDP)
- The importance of learning and development (L&D)
About the curriculum
Can I only do the L&D set out for my grade in the curriculum?
No – you can access all learning in the curriculum. However, you should start by doing the learning set out for your grade and work through the practitioner, advanced and expert levels.
Can I do training that’s not on the curriculum?
Yes – you should start by doing the learning set out for your grade on the curriculum, but you can and should supplement this with other L&D. You should do this through learning you get on the job and through relationships (for example, mentoring), as well as formal training run by your team, department or the wider Civil Service.
Why do some bits of the curriculum have more content than others?
We have devised the first version of the curriculum by bringing together and more clearly structuring existing GCS material. This has shown that there are inconsistencies across grade, standards and disciplines in the learning we provide. In the coming year we are developing plans to add more content to the curriculum to address this.
There’s a lot of information on the curriculum that I haven’t looked at, can I do more than 10% formal learning?
The 70/20/10 approach to learning is a guide but not a strict rule. You should use your judgement and agree with your line manager on what range of learning best meets your development needs. Some formal training will naturally equate to a larger proportion of the 30-point minimum – such as completing a set of modules for a course which equals 20 points in total.
What happens if I don’t manage 30 CPD points in a year?
Each of us will be expected to complete 30 CPD points. You will need to be able to explain to your line manager and Director of Communications the reason for not achieving 30 CPD points – we would expect this to be in a very small number of exceptional cases.
I work part time/in a job-share/have other flexible working arrangements. Do I have to achieve 30 CPD points?
We recognise that people have flexible working arrangements for a wide variety of reasons. Therefore, you should calculate your CPD hours on a pro rata basis, and see this as a minimum requirement (for example, if you work 3 days a week you should achieve a minimum of 18 CPD points). Flexible roles are no less challenging than full time roles. If personal circumstances permit, you should aim for more than the pro rata minimum and ideally aim for 30 CPD points.
The learning I want to do isn’t captured in the curriculum, will it count towards my CPD points?
If your planned learning isn’t in the examples provided by the GCS, you should contact the GCS professional standards team (firstname.lastname@example.org). They will be responsible for agreeing new CPD activity and their points with the GCS curriculum and standards board and communicating this with GCS members.
My team has its own PDP template, can’t I keep using that?
No – to help monitor and compare progress across the entire GCS we are asking everyone to use the same template.
The importance of learning and development (L&D)
Why are you asking me to do more L&D when when we are exceptionally busy or if I work in a very fast-paced area?
We want you to be able to learn and develop at all times, even during exceptionally busy periods. Arguably, the more complex the work, the more competent you need to be. 30 CPD points or one day per quarter should be a manageable investment of time, particularly as a greater range of ‘on the job’ learning and learning through relationships counts towards CPD. For most people, formal training away from the day job will represent a smaller amount of time spent on L&D.
I’m a manager of a busy team and I’m concerned that we don’t have time for all this L&D.
As a manager, making sure your people are learning and developing is a fundamental part of your job. Every member of your team – including you – needs to have a PDP, tailored to developmental needs and reviewed regularly.
Of course, we all recognise that during exceptionally busy times it may not be sensible to, for example, book a day-long course. But refusing permission should be the exception, and we encourage you to speak with your team about learning regularly, to role model a learning mindset yourself, and to emphasise the different ways of learning – for example, on-demand courses or ‘on the job’ skills development.
You can read the full list of questions in the GCS curriculum and standards guide.