Introducing GCS Academy

Blog post by GCS

Thursday 14 May 2020

"The facilitator was extremely knowledgeable. I work in external affairs and so it was great to attend a strat comms course with a strong focus on stakeholder engagement and the value of this in the strat comms planning process."

- Advanced strategic communication course attendee

Digital by default

We’re the GCS Professional Standards Team, and part of our remit is to oversee the running of the Aspire curriculum. For the last year, we’ve been working on digitising our learning, to make it more accessible to our thousands of colleagues across the UK who can’t always travel to a face-to-face course. We’ve turned introductory courses into webinars.

The Aspire curriculum has been a valued and integral part of GCS life for years, and now we’re proud and excited to introduce the next evolutionary stage: GCS Academy. 

Lockdown learning

The COVID-19 lockdown, and cancellation of our face-to-face training sessions, meant we had to accelerate this work, and since March we’ve moved all of our training online. 

Your feedback has been brilliant – 93% of the hundreds of you who’ve joined our webinars have said they will make you more effective at work, and we’ve had lots of excellent suggestions for new topics which we’re busy working on and hope to bring you over the next few months. 

Learning tailored for you

For every training event we’ve delivered, we’ve always asked for feedback, so we can improve our offer to you. 

We’ve used all of that feedback to develop GCS Academy – here’s how it works…

Webinars:

Since June 2019 we’ve offered on average one webinar per week, delivered by GCS members; this has increased to about 3 webinars a week since the lockdown. Topics include our core MCOM disciplines and leadership, internal communication, external affairs, media, strategic communication and marketing – for example:

  • Your complete guide to behaviour change
  • Your 45-minute guide to modern media
  • Secrets to get more from your internal communication
  • Introduction to communicating locally for beginners
  • Step by step media relationship management

All webinars are delivered by experts from all departments so that GCS comms professionals have an opportunity to learn from experts and their peers. 

Face to face:

Face-to-face learning and development outside London will be delivered via our regional academies. These were face-to-face before the coronavirus pandemic and are currently online until further notice

We offer more advanced courses for full-day or half-day with paid for trainers, on more specific topics such as our very popular course “Presenting with Impact” (online until further notice).

Pass it on:

We encourage everyone to share what they learn and become a trainer. We’re currently working on a ‘train the trainer’ webinar to give tips and hopefully give more of you the confidence to start presenting. 

Great work from teams across GCS will be showcased via our Comms Exchanges – again, currently online until further notice although we want to continue offering some online after the lockdown, too. 

Podcasts:

We’ve introduced podcasts from our digital programme, Accelerate – so far we have:

  • FACT: Countering Misinformation in the Media 
  • Digital Campaigning Essentials: Introducing the Ecosystem

On-demand:

We’re slowly expanding our library of recorded webinars, with new topics such as resilience and strategic communication coming soon. We’ve had almost 400 views on our on-demand webinars and podcasts page and we hope you’ll use the library if you have missed a live session.

How to get involved

It’s easy to do, most learning takes less than an hour, you’ll learn something new and you can add it to your Personal Development Plan. Access on-demand content in three steps:

  1. Contact your development adviser to get the academy password 
  2. Use it to login to the academy page (GCS member)
  3. Choose your first learning amongst 5 webinars and 2 podcasts.

Get in touch

We look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions of topics you’d like us to cover – contact us at gcsbookings@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

See you there!

The Professional Standards team