Updated: Feb 25, 2019
I’m really honoured to be taking over as chair of the West Midlands DCS network and look forward to building on the solid foundations we have already laid.
I feel that we work together really well as a group, and while I may be taking over as chair, I very much view this role as one of collaboration and teamwork. We’ve all put in a lot of time and effort to identify our plans and priorities, now we need to focus on delivering them.
At the director’s residential we agreed key areas of focus, these are workforce and leadership, educational skills and economy, quality of practice and commissioning. We will be building on these throughout 2019.
We know that we can’t work in isolation, we need support and buy-in at senior leadership level wherever we work. Lead members and chief executives need to see the value in what we do and I’m keen to see each of us developing those relationships so that the DCS network is not just seen as an exercise, but a way of collaborating and sharing skills and ideas to benefit the whole region.
We need to be ambitious, we may represent the West Midlands but I think we’ve shown that we can punch above our weight and we should be looking to develop our profile nationally. We can and should be influencing national developments and raising the profile of the work we do.
We’re already contributing to the Regional Improvement Alliance and I believe we can develop that further, in particular enhancing our performance data and intelligence, developing a more robust system of available peer reviews and developing a series of masterclasses to share learning and good practice with colleagues. We are good at what we do, we should be shouting about that.
We need to make the most of every opportunity offered to us. That means working closely with key partners including Ofsted, DfE, ADASS, DPH and Teaching Partnership. It’s only by working across agencies and making the most of what they each have to offer that we can do our best by the children, young people and families we all serve. It’s about collaboration, learning from each other and putting children and young people first to help give them the outcomes they deserve.
I’d also like to thank my colleagues Sally Rowe from Walsall Council and Chris Baird from Herefordshire Council who have taken over as vice-chairs for the network, welcome on board. There’s still a lot of work to do, but with a solid plan, real enthusiasm and a genuine desire to engage with our leaders and partners, I really believe we can help to improve outcomes for children, young people and families across the West Midlands.
Helen Riley, new chair of the West Midlands DCS Network, deputy chief executive and director for families & communities at Staffordshire County Council