How does Whitehall really work?

It can be hard to understand the workings of Whitehall. There are multiple departments, plus all their agencies
and arms-length bodies. The policy-making landscape is complex and involves Whitehall, external stakeholders, and Parliament. This course will help to demystify how Whitehall works and will give participants a good insight into the practices and processes that the civil service and Ministers work in.

We will cover the informal and formal aspects of working in Whitehall, and some tips on working within and working with Whitehall. The course is suitable for those who are working in Whitehall who may want a broader picture, but also for those who need to work with Whitehall and would like to understand the civil service and Government better. The trainer will use case studies and personal experiences from a long Whitehall career to bring the issues to life.

At the Civil Service College, we tailor our courses to each participant’s role and organisations, ensuring that each participant gets the most out of the training. Our courses and trainers are continuously updated and evaluated to ensure that we are always delivering the best service possible.

Key Training Features

Who Can Attend

Learning Outcomes

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Key Training Features:

  • Introduction to the Civil Service and the Departmental structure
  • Understanding how business gets done in Government and how decisions get made
  • Formal and informal aspects of working in or with Whitehall
  • How do Ministers operate?
  • Explanation of the interactions between Whitehall and Parliament
  • How does policy get decided and agreed?

Who Can Attend:

Civil servants and wider public sector employees who want an introduction to how the Civil Service and Government work.  Also relevant to private-sector employees who need to work with Whitehall.

Learning Outcomes:

You will get a good understanding of how Whitehall and the civil service operates from a formal and informal point of view.  We will cover the relationship between Whitehall and Parliament.  You will have a good understanding of the different rules and responsibilities for civil servants, Ministers and Special Advisors.  We will also look at how to operate successfully within Whitehall (also how to engage with Whitehall if you are outside of it).

Visit the CSC Bookstore in partnership with award-winning publisher Kogan Page, offering materials in print books, eBooks and accredited soft skills eLearning courses. SAVE 15% on all Kogan Page books and ‘Creating Success’ eLearning Courses with KPCSC15. We also offer institutional savings too, just get in touch!



10:00 - 16:00


£595 + VAT


Westminster, London

Face to Face

8 June 2022 Book6

20 September 2022 Book7

22 November 2022 Book8

In-House Option

This course is available In-House and can be tailored to meet your individual training requirements.


Lead Trainer

Jo Clift

Jo Clift

Jo has held senior roles in the UK Government for over 20 years, across a range of disciplines including communications, strategy, policy and legislation.

Read Bio
Jo Clift

Jo Clift

Jo is an expert on central Government and personal development.  She works as a Non-Executive Director, consultant and coach.

Jo had senior roles in the heart of the UK Government for over twenty years, across a range of disciplines including communications, strategy, policy and legislation. 

Jo has a particular interest in personal development, and helping people to bring their whole selves to work, including dealing with the Imposter Syndrome.

She has worked closely with many ministers over the years, and has also worked at Number 10 in the Prime Minister's Press Office. Other Government roles included leading the Coalition government's ICT strategy, Head of Communications for the BSE Inquiry and creating a new model for corporate shared services across Whitehall. Jo also gained private sector experience as a senior change consultant at Deloitte Consulting.

She currently works as a consultant with organisations who need to understand and engage with the UK Government.  She is also an executive coach, and a Council member for the Institute of Osteopathy. 

Jo is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a published writer on the Civil Service and Brexit.


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