Planning your councillor development programme

A councillor development programme provides support and resources to your councillors, ensuring that they can access learning and development that enables them to be effective and confident as a councillor.


Accessibility, equality, diversity and inclusion underpins councillor development strategies and programmes – providing support for councillors at every stage of their journey and tenure, opportunities to refresh learning previously undertaken for existing or returning councillors, and equal access (for example, reasonable adjustments, timings of training sessions, and different learning styles). 

Horizon-scanning and anticipating future needs also form a key part of developing a programme and resources. Through COVID-19 we have seen how important it is to build flexibility, resilience and adaptability into our learning and development.

Programmes should be engaging, delivered at high-quality and evaluated to drive continual improvement.

The checklist below sets out examples from councils of the type of training and resources that can be considered in the councillor development offer.

Please email [email protected] to receive some example council documents.

Our councillor training offer can be used in addition to the support by councils.

The possibilities for councillor development are broad, and whilst some training is mandatory for councillors, local context will drive the need for other support.

Many councils note in each section of their training and resources which councillors these are aimed at and whether they are mandatory or for continual professional development.

Getting started

  • Welcome, Swearing in Ceremony and Declaration of Acceptance of Office
  • Administration – interests, gifts, hospitality, allowances, form filling, bank details
  • Organisational values, culture and equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Introduction to governance, strategy and policy
  • Market place – to find out more about each directorate and meet officers
  • Tour of the borough and/or tour of the council offices
  • Standards, ethics, council constitution and code of conduct
  • How to participate in debates, submit motions and vote

Settling in

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • PDPs
  • Casework and surgeries
  • Data protection
  • Safety and security for councillors
  • Law and governance
  • Effective meetings and chairing skills
  • Local government finance
  • Safeguarding
  • Overview and scrutiny
  • Understanding your ward
  • Public speaking
  • Engaging with and representing your diverse community
  • Mock council meetings
  • IT

Further key knowledge and skills

  • Communications and reputation
  • Partnership working
  • Social media
  • Dealing with challenging situations
  • Media skills
  • Time management and speed reading
  • Modern slavery

Key service areas (at your council or signposting to county council)

  • Customer services at the council
  • Licensing
  • Community cohesion
  • Environment and climate change
  • Housing
  • Emergency planning and resilience
  • Schools and learning
  • Social care
  • Planning and development
  • Public health
  • Transport and highways

Debating skills for councillors

Taking part in constructive debate is an important part of the role of a local councillor, with debates taking place everywhere from the council chamber to the doorstep. Debating is a core skill for effective community leadership, ensuring people can share opposing views, discuss these with respect and an open mind, and come to informed conclusions for the benefit of the community.

The LGA has commissioned a training package to be used as part of the induction process or ongoing training for councillors, to support them to develop these key skills. The training focuses on tools that enable councillors to engage meaningfully in debate and deal with tricky situations, along with guidance on ensuring debates lead towards stronger outcomes. 

The package includes a PowerPoint presentation, a workbook for councillors and an accompanying trainer’s workbook, enabling a trainer (for example, a training and development or members services officer) to deliver interactive training to councillors in approximately 90 minutes.

To receive the 'Debating skills for councillors' training package, please email [email protected]

Contact us

Please email us at [email protected] if you have any questions or require further support on councillor development and examples of good practice.