Blog: COVID-19: webinars, workshops and other events

Posted on 03/04/2020 by Jenny Manchester. Tags: , ,

Our training and development offer is changing in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. You can find out more about our overall offer here.  

From now until September we will be offering a programme of short webinars on the key skills that councillors are likely to need in order to understand and oversee their councils’ response to the crisis, along with more involved group sessions, led by an experienced remote facilitator, which will allow for learning and development on other topics. Details on these workshops and webinars will be uploaded onto our events page.  Short webinars: free to access  

These webinars are all between 10 and 20 minutes long. They will be regularly updated as the crisis develops. The first versions of these will be prepared and posted online in the next ten days.  

Webinar 1: scrutiny and COVID-19 overview 

Councils are making big decisions, quickly. Formal meetings are being suspended. But the role of councillors, and of scrutiny, remains vital. This short webinar explains why. It highlights the varied, critical roles that councillors can play in their local community. It draws on the LGA COVID-19 guide for councillors and on CfGS material to set out an approach that councillors can use to support a vital, necessary role both at the Town Hall and in their local communities.  

Webinar 2: remote working basics 

This webinar will set out the new Government rules around remote meetings for councillors, and will set out some of the ways that councillors (chairs in particular) can best prepare themselves for convening meetings (formal and informal) remotely.  

Webinar 3: scrutiny ways of working 

This longer webinar will look at the possible ways for scrutiny to work actively during the COVID-19 crisis. Normal operation will be impossible but some form of member oversight is vital. We will explore punchy, effective and responsive ways for scrutiny to contribute.  

Webinar 4: essential scrutiny skills 

This webinar will signpost to more detailed key material which can help councillors to understand the key skills they will need in order to conduct scrutiny using the “ways of working” included in webinar 3. This includes: 

  • Being clear and consistent in your messaging about your role in this time of crisis; 
  • Building partnerships and relationships; 
  • Recognising resilience and capacity issues in your community and at the council; 
  • Prioritisation; 
  • Focusing on practical, immediate outcomes.  

Webinar 5: information management and access basics 

This webinar goes into more detail about the kinds of information that councillors can expect to want to see to inform their work, and their oversight of the council’s response. This will include: 

  • Use of public health information, and information produced by the NHS; 
  • Use of information produced by mutual aid and voluntary groups; 
  • Use of performance and finance information from partners and the council.  

The webinar will cover the law around information access and the various informal and formal mechanisms that can be used, remotely, to support members to understand and act on it.  

Workshops: live sessions led by a facilitator 

Workshop 1: redesigning scrutiny 

Indicative date: mid April 

How does scrutiny need to be retooled to meet this challenge? Are we talking less about overview and scrutiny, and more about “oversight and support”? This three hour workshop will help you to work through your options on structures, methods, ways of working and capacity and resource issues. It will talk about different councils’ priorities in dealing with COVID-19 and the importance of retaining oversight over other council services.  

Workshop 2: access, review and use of information 

Indicative date: May 

This workshop will dig in to the kinds of information sources that members can use to support their work. The statutory scrutiny guidance suggested the preparation of a regular “information digest” – how might this be used to support councillor oversight and support of COVID-19 work in a way that is proportionate. We will cover: 

  • Identification and use of key sources of information; 
  • Use of information to prioritise critical issues; 
  • Use of information to problem solve, and working with officers to dynamically find solutions; 
  • Councillors’ role in gathering information, including community insight, on behalf of the authority; 
  • Councillors’ role in passing information out to the community and as “brokers” – sources of accurate, trusted information to support local communities which might be fragmented.  

We plan to organise and deliver further online workshops through the late spring and early summer, with further information to be published shortly.