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Regional Update – July 2023

Last month, in her introduction, Jo wrote about the need to preserve “regional memory” due to people moving on from their roles. You will also see, further down the page, that there are going to be a few changes across our networks, in the next few months, including here in Walsall. In September I will be stepping down as DCS and will be focussing on new adventures. For me retirement looms and a chance to spend time with family (a new Grandson), friends and a bit of travel too! However, walking away from the sector, all together, was never an option for me and there will be some consultancy work, so expect to still see me around.

Nearly two years ago I wrote a blog entry for the ADCS website, titled “The truth about change”. In it I reflected on the importance of moving with the times and not being caught by the “in my day…” trap. Ironically, of course, a lot has changed in the last two years. Five Secretaries of State at the DfE; a couple of bits of legislation that made it through Parliament (and at least one that got shelved); the Independent review of children’s social care, or the Care Review, as we all liked to call it, morphed into Stable Homes: built on love; more of the regions LA areas have been judged Good or better, (the most recent being Worcestershire – congratulations to Tina and her team); we have something a little more tangible in regards to the plans for our Safe Centre; and much, much more besides. It is also true, that many of the people behind our positive achievements have moved on, but the work goes on, plus most importantly we continue to improve, and provide the best services that we possibly can, for children and their families.

To quote part of my closing paragraph for that blog, back in August 2021:

“…in thirty years’ time when that fresh new graduate from the class of 2021 sits in my chair at Walsall, hopefully they too will look back, not through rose tinted glasses, but with the benefit of experience, and reflect upon how the challenge of change makes children’s services the most rewarding workplace in the world!”

That fresh new graduate has probably just completed their ASYE, and it is still 28 years until they make DCS. There will be a few before them, that is for sure. The next is just about to take the helm and they will bring their own unique experiences; they will be faced by their own unique challenges too. Whatever happens, they will be supported by the people who make up our wonderful region, yes that includes you!

So, that just leaves me to say, thank you and goodbye. I’ll see you around no doubt!

Best wishes

Sally Rowe

Network Chair:

We announced last month, that due to her move to Liverpool, Jenny Turnross will be stepping down as Chair. We are now pleased to confirm that Jo Britton (DCS in Telford & Wrekin) will become our new chair, from 1st August.

DCS Movements:

Following John Gregg’s departure to Peterborough, Coventry City Council have announced that Neil Macdonald will be acting as Interim DCS. Neil will be supported in the role By Kirston Nelson who will hold the statutory DCS title.

Also recently announced and as mentioned above, Sally Rowe will be retiring from Walsall in September. We will confirm, via Regional Update, as soon as cover arrangements are announced.

The Regional Team would like to wish Sally all the best for her future and thank her for her tireless support for regional working over the last few years.

We are also please to pass on the Regions congratulations to Emma Bennett, who will be leaving the DCS role in Wolverhampton to become the Chief Executive of Walsall. Again, we will publish cover arrangements once they are known.

Regional SEND Co-ordinator:

We are currently looking to recruit to the Regional SEND Co-ordinator role. This is a two day per week position, and we would consider filling it via a secondment, consultancy or employed route. If you are interested, please submit an expression of interest to Paul Brewster.

Details can be found here and we would invite you to have an informal conversation with the current post holder, Pat Bullen.

ADCS Conference 2023:

Earlier this month a number of our DCS’s and other senior leaders from the region attended the ADCS conference in Manchester.

For those who were not able to attend and who have an interest, a roundup of the event can be found on the ADCS blog.

Reflective Fostering Study:

The reflective Fostering Study is due to commence a new wave of recruitment, during September.

Details can be found in the links below:

· A recent Adoption and Fostering podcast

Key Events:

Participation of children and young people:

The Participation Leads Network (PLN) are holding a young persons event on 28th July to support co-production of the groups aims to put ‘participation on the map’. Two young people from each LA have been invited to get involved and inform and develop a regional approach that covers training for corporate parents and a path for accreditation and compensation for the experience, skills and time that young people put in to support improvements in children’s services and beyond! Speak to your PLN lead and watch this space for updates!

There are further opportunities for young people to contribute to the work under way on the Stable Homes Built of Love strategy via Coram Voice. ALL children and young people are welcome to join the online sessions and support packs will be sent out ahead of each event. See below for more details and sign up using this link.

Diversity In Permanence - MFPG Study Day:

The Midlands Family Placement Group (MFPG) are holding their Annual Study Day on Monday 2nd October.

This year’s theme is DIVERSITY IN PERMANENCE exploring the impact of race and racism in the assessment and care planning for adoption and permanence. It includes presentations from Delroy Madden and Yoni Ejo, and the opportunity to network with colleagues from across the whole Midlands region.

The Study Day is suitable for all staff involved in care planning for permanence and supporting permanence placements – including children’s social workers, permanence & adoption and post-adoption team members, IROs, managers.

Full details and the booking form can be found here.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion Programmes:

There are a number of regional and national programmes aimed at enabling diversity in leadership with just one space currently available for the Breaking Through programme.

Breaking Through: This Cohort is being tailored to women of colour aspiring to management across children’s services; commissioned by WME and held as a pilot within WM ADCS network. As a result, the places are at a discount of (£1584 pp as opposed to £1950pp if you were to purchase directly). 6 LAs have already reserved spaces and there is just one space remaining for the cohort commencing in October 2023.

Please contact Ana Davies to reserve a place for your LA

More information can be found here and you can watch a webinar here.

Core programme overview:

CPD Opportunities from Partners:

Keele University

Keele University are offering, for the next 12 months, the opportunity for two social workers to be supported by Keele staff to undertake a small-scale research project that meets the interests of the social worker AND the priorities of the service/team.

The social worker will be supervised and supported via a tailor-made tutorial supervision approach, and this will enable the nature of support to vary from supervision and guidance only, to co-researcher/co-analysis of data, according to need. Based upon experience elsewhere, it seems that when there is external supervision, practitioners are more likely to see a project through to completion. The key here is that the project is practice-led and supported by university-based staff not the other way around, and that it is manageable and relevant.

Details can be found here.

Please send expressions of interest/queries to Cath Holmstrom, Head of Social Work at Keele.

Growing Belonging & Compassion in our Schools & Communities

The Staff College has developed an innovative programme consisting of three 90-minute interconnected online workshops and a face-to-face Conference to help education leaders grow belonging and compassion in schools and communities.

Details can be found here.

LeadHERship Academy

For those interested in self-development, Saj Zafar (currently running our regional programme for aspirant to HOS level for women of colour) is expanding coaching and development services to women leaders in the West Midlands.

Details can be found here.

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