Next Generation Impact Survey - 2020/21

cover of research report Next generation impact survey 2021-21- 100 x 142
The survey contained a small number of questions looking at the extent to which participating in Next Generation has had a lasting impact on participants.

Summary

During October 2020, the Local Government Association (LGA) conducted a survey of councillors who had completed the Next Generation programme between six and nine months previously. The survey contained a small number of questions looking at the extent to which participating in Next Generation has had a lasting impact on participants. The results will be used to improve and develop the programme.

Methodology 

An online survey was sent to the 68 councillors who had participated in Next Generation in 2019/20. The survey was sent out in October 2020, between six and nine months after the participants attended their final sessions. A total of 43 replied – a response rate of 63 per cent. 

Feedback on Next Generation

  • Improving the way participants carry out their role: 42 respondents (98 per cent) said that the Next Generation programme had helped them improve the way they carry out their role, to either a great or moderate extent.
  • Progression of members: Thirty seven per cent (16 respondents) had progressed to a new role or taken on additional roles or responsibilities, with a further 14 per cent expecting to do so soon (six respondents). All said that the programme had had a great or moderate positive impact on their ability to do this.
  • Ways Next Generation has impacted on member progress: Respondents gave various examples of things that they had done differently as a result of the programme, including:
    • respondents are  more confident in their communication skills and abilities
    • respondents new confidence has led to some seeking opportunities, progression and more responsibility in their political roles
    • respondents have benefitted from networking opportunities, shared experiences and learning
    • respondents have developed better working relationships with local authority officers. 

Introduction

During October 2020, the Local Government Association (LGA) conducted a survey of councillors who had completed the Next Generation programme between six and nine months previously. The survey contained a small number of questions looking at the extent to which participating in Next Generation has had a lasting impact on participants. The results will be used to improve and develop the programme.

Methodology

An online survey was sent to the 68 councillors who had participated in Next Generation in 2019/20. The survey was sent out in October 2018, between six and nine months after the participants attended their final sessions. A total of 43 replied – a response rate of 63 per cent. 
Whilst these results should strictly be taken as a snapshot of the views of this particular group of respondents, rather than representative of all those who participated in Next Generation in 2019/20, this level of response means that the results are likely to provide a good indication of the views of the group more widely.

The response rate for each party type is shown in Table 1 (Base: all respondents - 43 respondents)

  Number of Participants Number of Respondents Response rate Percent
Labour 20 14 70
Conservative 18 11 61
Liberal Democrat 13 7 54
Independent 17 11 65
Total 68 43 63

 

The response rate by role is shown in Table 2. Most respondents were portfolio holders or ward councillors, and a smaller proportion were leaders or deputy leaders. Other roles included a group leader as well as deputy and shadow cabinet members.

Table 2: What is your current role? Base: all respondents - 43 respondents)

  Number Per cent
Ward councillor 15 35
Portfolio holder 18 42
Deputy leader 2 5
Leader 1 2
Prefer not to say 1 2
Other 6 14
Total 43 100

 

Please note the following when reading the report:

  • Where tables and figures report the base, the description refers to the group of people who were asked the question. The number provided refers to the number who answered each question. Please note that bases vary throughout the survey.
  • Throughout the report, percentages in figures and tables may add to more than 100 per cent due to rounding. 
  • The following conventions are used in tables: ‘*’ - less than 0.5 per cent; ‘0’ – no observations; ‘-’ – category not applicable/data not available.
  • Where the response base is less than 50, care should be taken when interpreting percentages, as small differences can seem magnified. Therefore, where this is the case in this report, absolute numbers are reported alongside the percentage values.

Feedback on Next Generation

This section provides full results for each survey question. 

All respondents were asked to state the extent to which they felt their participation in Next Generation had helped them improve the way they carry out their role. Just under 100 per cent (42 respondents, 98 per cent) said that it had helped them to either a great or moderate extent.

Table 3: To what extent, if at all, do you think that participation in Next Generation has helped you improve the way you carry out your role? (base: all respondents - 43 respondents)

  Number Per cent
To a great of moderate extent 42 98
To a great extent 30 70
To a moderate extent 12 28
To a small extent 1 2
Not at all 0 0
Don't know 0 0
Total 43 100

 

All respondents were asked whether, since participating in Next Generation, they had progressed to a new role or taken on additional roles or responsibilities. Thirty seven per cent (16 respondents) had done so, with a further 14 per cent expecting to do so soon (six respondents). Forty four per cent (19 respondents) said that they planned to maintain their current role and responsibilities for now.

Table 4: Since participating in Next Generation have you progressed to a new role or taken on additional roles or responsibilities? (Base: all respondents - 43 respondents)

  Number Per cent
Yes 16 37
No - bit I expect to soon 6 14
No - I plan to maintain my current role and responsibilities now 19 44
Don't know  2 5
Total 43 100

 

All respondents who had progressed to a new role or taken on additional roles or responsibilities were asked to what extent, if at all, their participation in Next Generation had impacted positively on their progression.  All respondents to this question (16 respondents) said this was the case, to either a great or moderate extent.

Table 5: To what extent, if at all, do you think that participation in Next Generation had a positive impact on your ability to progress and/or take on additional roles or responsibilities? (Base: those who had progressed or taken on new responsibilities - 16 respondents)

  Number Per cent
To a great or moderate extent 16 100
To a great extent 14 88
To a moderate extent 2 13
To a small extent 0 0
Not at all 0 0
Don't know 0 0
Total 16 100

 

Respondents were asked to provide details of how Next Generation had helped them improve or progress in their role, including examples of things that they had done differently as a result. Thirty eight people responded to this question and their comments are themed below.

Confidence and career development: Just under half of the respondents gave examples of how the course had helped them to be more efficient and achieve more within their roles. Many cited increased levels of confidence and a willingness to take on greater challenges. In addition, a number of respondents attributed career moves to the skills and confidence gained from the course: 

  • “Made me really consider myself as a leader. Has made me think about how I use my position to better effect across the council and wider.”
  • “I have made lifelong friends who I communicate with through our WhatsApp page daily. We advise, we support, we confer and just generally look after each other’s wellbeing. I now have the confidence to take on more challenging roles, I feel more empowered and supported. I am now Leader of Opposition. Feel more confident in my scrutiny role and more able to be resilient in the face of male misogynistic opposition members. Would highly recommend Next Gen. I speak more confidentially; I prepared more thoroughly and use lots of techniques Next Gen has taught me.”
  • “I think one of the biggest things that I have learnt is how to reach out to others. Moreover, to be aware of self and understand the impact that I make. I am more confident but not in an arrogant way. Finally, I am better able to understand the communities I serve. Much thanks for empowering me even more to do even better for the communities I serve.”
  • “It’s given me more confidence in my decisions and own abilities. As a Group Leader I tended to shy away from the role and say it was just a title and wasn’t really justified. But actually, it can be used to influence and if you lead your group and create an environment for them to be ambitious, it lifts the whole group. It’s given me more confidence to question things and seek to influence changes. I’ve taken on more work and roles as a result, that I probably would have shied away from before.”
  • “The Next Generation course boosted the belief I had in my capabilities and enabled me to realise that my concerns were things that other councillors also had problems with, and that I was definitely not alone. In addition, the practical skills learnt such as public speaking have been useful to apply.”
  • “I developed greater awareness of the importance of my role, enhanced my public speaking, confidence and political insights.”
  • “Next Generation has greatly increased my confidence in my role as Portfolio Holder for Housing. It has provided me with skills to better communicate publicly and internally in the council with other members and officers. I’m more prepared to make speeches in council meetings, communicate with the media and delivering messages to residents. I am more confident in setting a direction for officers. Next Generation has also provided me with a network of supportive councillors across the country.”

Communication skills: One third of the respondents said that they had grown more confident in their communication skills as a result of Next Generation: 

  • “Next Gen has given me more confidence and focus to perform my job more effectively. I am a more confident public speaker and claim my place on the table.” 
  • “It has helped me in how I conduct myself with the media, and my messaging in manifesto writing. I have used Myers Briggs extensively when managing my group.”
  • “Networking, fantastic training. I now have a cohort of councillors to talk to. I have used the public speaking training and effective communication skills to improve my work with residents in the town.”
  • “Networking, fantastic training. I now have a cohort of councillors to talk to. I have used the public speaking training and effective communication skills to improve my work with residents in the town.”

Networking: Many respondents also said they had benefitted from the networking opportunities both on the course and afterwards. They were able to share experiences and learn from one another during the programme as well as offer encouragement and support:

  • “Meeting other councillors from different authorities has given me a great insight to how my local authority can change the way it does things for the better. I have promoted some of these ideas to senior members.” 
  • “The course helped me improve my strategy. I have worked to strengthen relationships with councillors and officers; I understand more about my role; I have a WhatsApp group that has been very supportive because we are all ‘on the same boat’. I have felt deeply supported by the LGA. The course is probably the most important thing I've done since I started as a councillor.”
  • “The content of the course provided me with a lot of knowledge and confidence. However, it is the continuation of the support I receive from the group as we have all remained in touch.”

Relationship building: A few respondents said that the course had helped them improve working relationships and partnerships. Most referred to their work with officers:

  • “Firstly, simply having done the training was a big signal to my Group that I was equipped with the skills to lead. We are a Group of 12: six of us were elected in the last two years, the other six have been elected for over a decade (some over two decades) and coming to the end of their tenure. This training was vital for me in developing the skills and knowledge needed to manage a growing council group in which those with knowledge and experience are not especially engaged or supportive.” 
  • “The whole structure of the programme was amazing, body language, breathing exercises, debating skills, and mostly the friendship and relationships built with my other Next Gen cohort who we are all still in touch via a WhatsApp group.  Thoroughly recommend it and can’t thank the LGA enough for running the programme!”

All respondents were asked if they felt they had any further development or support needs. Twenty two respondents answered this question and identified additional training they would like, or had already signed up to, or expressed a desire to continue learning. The additional training needs referred to:

  • Learning themes such as: party and people management;  public speaking; leadership skills; working with  the media; political strategy/communication; and presentation skills.
  • Training courses signed up for or being considered: Media training and refresher courses run by Next Generation.
  • Finally, respondents were asked if they had any other comments about Next Generation. Thirty one people answered this question, with most respondents sharing their positive experiences such as “I have been able to utilise some of the learning and training from Next Gen during the pandemic and I found this invaluable.”
  • “It’s the best leadership course I ever had.” 
  • “I would highly recommend the Next Gen programme. It is an invaluable experience in my growth as a councillor.”

Others said that they would recommend it to others or took the opportunity to say, “thank you”.
 

Annex A: Questionnaire 10

1. What is your current role?

Ward councillor
Portfolio holder
Deputy leader
Leader
Other (please specify)
Prefer not to say

2. To what extent, if at all, do you think that participation in Next Generation has helped you improve the way you carry out your role?

To a great extent
To a moderate extent
To a small extent
Not at all
Don’t know

To those who answered not at all to Q2:

3. Why do you think that participation in Next Generation has not helped you improve the way you carry out your role? If you have any suggestions as to how the programme could be improved or developed to help with this, please use the space below.

To all:

4. Since participating in Next Generation have you progressed to a new role or taken on additional roles or responsibilities?

Yes
No – but I expect to soon
No – I plan to maintain my current role and responsibilities for now
Don’t know

If yes:

5. To what extent, if at all, do you think that participation in Next Generation had a positive impact on your ability to progress and/or take on additional roles or responsibilities?

To a great extent
To a moderate extent
To a small extent
Not at all
Don’t know

To those who answered a great or moderate extent to Q2 or Q5:

6. Please provide brief details of how Next Generation has helped you improve or progress in your role, including examples of things that you have done differently as a result.

To all:

7. If you feel you have further development or support needs, please use the space below to explain what these are. 

8. If you have any further comments about Next Generation, please use the space below.

Many thanks for taking the time to complete this survey. Your feedback will be used to improve and develop the programme.