Case study by KPMG

In early 2016, Civil Service Learning (CSL) commissioned the KPMG consortium to design and deliver a Learning and Development (L&D) curriculum to meet the needs of a Civil Service fit for the 21st century. Less than a year later KPMG delivered the largest L&D project in UK Government history.

The sheer scale of the project – the design and delivery of a curriculum fit for 400,000 civil servants – required a sizable consortium of L&D suppliers. The Open University and thirty top-class suppliers joined the consortium, including leading industry names such as LEO, Mind Gym, Unspun, Lane 4 and QA.

This collaboration took place against a backdrop of rapid change within the Civil Service, who were challenged to reimagine the provision of public services, make use of new technologies, delivery mechanisms and management approaches in an efficient, innovative and cost-effective manner.

The curriculum needed to be wide-ranging, covering everything from finance and policy-making through to leadership and customer service, and applicable to an incredibly diverse audience. It also needed to represent a considerable departure from what went before; previously the Civil Service learning catalogue had over 2,600 separate courses, many of which had overlapping content and typically lacked any alignment to the Government’s overarching objectives.

“It is vital we have the right people, with the right capabilities, in the right place at the right time. Developing the skills we need – and delivered in an accessible, convenient and digitally-enabled way – this is a curriculum designed very much with tomorrow’s Civil Service in mind.” Deborah McKenzie, Civil Service Director of Learning & Leadership

In designing the curriculum, thirteen Task and Finish groups worked to identify, prioritise and validate the desired learner outcomes. Over 6,000 civil servants, representing numerous government departments and professions, were involved with reviewing and agreeing the curriculum content. A blended learning model synthesizing digital with social learning was deployed, and as the topics went into production a further 600 civil servants were involved with testing them.

From this, a new curriculum emerged covering 138 topics all clearly aligned with government business priorities. It featured over 1,500 learning assets: including 50 video case studies, 180 online tutorials, 32 live animations, eight online drama scenarios and over 320 guides and planning tools.

Since its launch, there have been over 157,000 bookings onto CSL topics, spread across 110 government departments and agencies. The new curriculum has received an 87% success rating from learners who believe it has changed how they do their job. Feedback has also confirmed the merits of how the blended learning approach addresses prior barriers to learning such as time constraints and accessibility.

For the first time in its history, the UK Government now owns its own coherent L&D curriculum. It can develop the skills and competencies it needs to equip a more effective, modern Civil Service, capable of providing high quality services to the public.

Published: 11 October 2018


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.