Certificate in Overview and Scrutiny (3 day course)

Lectures Talks and Workshops, Social Sciences, Teaching
Monday 6th October 2014 (00:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

Sarah Smith
T:   0121 414 8390
E: s.e.smith.2@bham.ac.uk

This three day programme works through the stages and techniques of the scrutiny process, and the ways in which it may be used both to hold executives to account and to develop policy. It may be used as an induction and training in the principles of good scrutiny for those who are new or relatively new to the topic (including an update on issues for scrutiny raised by new legislation and the Coalition's approach to local government). It will also assist those with experience of scrutiny to develop their skills and improve their practice.

Purposes of the programme is:

  • To provide participants with an in depth analysis of what is needed to make a success of the scrutiny process, in local government and elsewhere.
  • To give participants a qualification, endorsed by a leading university, which will recognise their knowledge in the field of scrutiny and special skills
  • To assist in developing scrutiny investigations
  • To explore the issues which arise in managing the scrutiny process, including the relationships with senior politicians and officials
  • To provide a pathway to a higher degree for those who wish to take it.

Who should attend?

This course was created for local government scrutiny officers. A number of councillors involved in the scrutiny process have also attended and improved their skills. Others may also find it relevant – e.g. those working for Police bodies, partnership organisations and non-executive members of boards or companies in the public or voluntary sectors. It will also assist officials involved in policy review and development.

It is designed for those involved or interested in scrutiny in local government, but the principles are highly relevant for those involved in other kinds of scrutiny – of crime and policing, partnerships, or as nonexecutive members of boards or arms-length agencies.

How will it be taught?

Those who choose can be assessed (the majority who take the module). To do this they write two short essays, and if these pass at post-graduate level then this is recorded by the University of Birmingham as 10 credit points (*subject to University approval) towards a post-graduate degree, diploma or certificate. This is therefore a route through which those who have developed expertise in scrutiny, most often as officials supporting the process but in some cases as councillors or scrutineers, can get recognition and accreditation for what they have learnt. Others use it as a taster before deciding whether to commit themselves to a full post-graduate degree.

Teaching methods include formal presentations, use of video, individual and group tasks, case studies and problemsolving workshops.

The course is taught in Birmingham. It is nonresidential, but there is 3-star hotel accommodation on the university campus which may be booked by those who wish to stay nearby.

Key topics include:

  • The foundations, and the politics, of scrutiny, and how it works in a variety of situations and countries
  • Overview and scrutiny in UK local government – methods and techniques
  • Political awareness and relationship building
  • Negotiating skills
  • Report writing for scrutiny

Course convenors

John Cade, previously Director of Scrutiny with Birmingham City Council brings his experience of working as a senior local government officer to addressing issues around council’s governance arrangements with a particular focus on relationships and developing trust between Executives, Chairs, Scrutiny Members and Officers.

Andrew Coulson is a nationally-recognised expert on scrutiny in local government and is particularly interested in governance by committees.

Fees and booking

£500 plus £150 for post-graduate accreditation (which is optional but for many a key reason for coming on the programme).This course is exempt from VAT.

The programme will run in Muirhead Tower ten minutes drive from the centre of Birmingham or 15 minutes walk from University railway station.

Futher dates TBC


The programme will run on the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston. The course is non-residential, but three star hotel accommodation on the Conference Park can be booked separately by those who wish to stay close by.

More information?

To book and reserve places please contact:

Sarah Smith
T: 0121 414 8390
E: s.e.smith.2@bham.ac.uk