NINE council executives have swapped their office for the classroom.

Hambleton District Council has entered into a partnership with Teesside University to develop a programme that will lead the officers to a Masters degree.

Chief executive Dr Justin Ives said: “We are investing heavily in our management – the people who will lead the council over the coming years.

“We work in an increasingly complex and changing business world and it is vital our team is able to respond to that. We are delighted that Teesside has been able to facilitate this programme.”

For the next 12 months the seven managers and two directors will spend up to two days a month at the university’s Darlington campus on the Institute of Management and Leadership's "coaching supervision and beyond" course.

It will give them a Level 7 diploma, the qualification to act as a coach mentor – and the stepping stone towards a Masters degree.

“We believe this programme is the first of its kind to draw together the practical qualification from the institute to provide a degree,” said tutor Jeff Matthews.

“What sets this programme apart is the opportunity to reflect on real situations, and learn from them real time, rather than taking an abstract Masters degree."