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Circles programme

Leadership development for women


Next available start date: September 2024
More information below

Hybrid learning, in person and online
£3,800 +VAT
Four modules over one year

Emerging from the restructure of our flagship Athena leadership programme, the Circles programme is designed to respond to the unique and diverse leadership challenges facing women working and leading in health and social care in the 21st century.

Bringing together women and those who identify as women  from across the health and social care system, the Circles programme offers an opportunity to learn together and to support each other to develop, irrespective of role, seniority or experience. 


It's been a mind-opening, thought provoking, gently powerful programme. The way I approach my leadership role has been strengthened through participating in the programme. Useful frameworks to shape thinking, bringing the personal touch, and heightened awareness of perspectives, differences as well as seeking to find the common ground and the collective good.

Professor of Health and Care Economics, University of York

Programme principles

Infographic describing the Circles programme principles

Circles is an acronym of the programme’s underlying principles and symbolises the cycles of experience and learning around which the programme is designed.

The circle also symbolises interconnectedness, a characteristic that speaks to our intention to draw on ways of knowing beyond the Western philosophies that typically dominate leadership development. Read more about how we re-imagined Athena's leadership development programme in our blog from Mandip Randhawa and Simon Newitt.

What will I learn on the Circles programme?

By completing the Circles programme, you will:

  • develop an intersectional understanding of gender in group relations, organisations, leadership and social structures

  • build on your critical thinking, emotional self-awareness, accountability, moral courage and creativity

  • grow your transferable leadership skills and build confidence to use them to enact positive change in the health and care system

  • develop an activist mindset and the ability to notice and challenge injustice in the workplace and beyond

  • help cultivate a culture of care among your peers on the programme, expanding your professional and personal networks and support structures in a movement of and for women across the health and care system.

Is the Circles programme for me?

This programme has been designed for women, including transgender women, at any stage of their leadership journey. 

The programme aims to create a diverse community of women who will develop their leadership collectively, irrespective of their status or job title, so if the intention of the programme interests you, then the course is for you. 

We are especially keen to work with women:

  • from racial and ethnic minority groups 

  • who are LGBTQ+

  • with disabilities 

  • from areas of deprivation 

  • from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. 

Programme team

Programme structure

For full programme structure information, please download our programme leaflet.

The Circles programme is organised around four seasons of work over 12 months. Most of the learning is delivered online, with the addition of two in-person sessions. 

In each of the four seasons, learners will commit to: 

  • three half-day workshops with guest speakers/facilitators (online) 

  • two 90-minute facilitated learning reviews with The King’s Fund faculty (online).

Other commitments over the course of the year include: 

  • participation in opening and closing events at The King’s Fund 

  • a one-to-one virtual coaching session 

  • self-directed engagement in learning materials

  • ongoing personal journaling

  • participation in quarterly community-building sessions with up to five other participants 

  • contributing to the production of a cohort yearbook.

Pricing and dates

For full programme structure information, please download our programme leaflet.

A limited number of partial bursaries are available to those in early-career positions. We particularly welcome applications from women from minoritised groups.

To apply for one of these bursaries, please download the application form and return to Judith Osorio.

Next available start date:

  • September 2024

Price: £3,800 +VAT

Frequently asked questions

Got a question about the programmes? Go to our frequently asked questions.


Application form

Complete the Circles application form and one of our programme co-ordinators will be in touch to discuss the next steps.

Apply now