Regional Update – June 2022

This Regional Update is a document circulated electronically to West Midlands Directors, Assistant Directors and Heads of Service. While recipients are welcome to forward the document to colleagues (where appropriate), we would ask that secondary recipients raise any queries about this Regional Update, or its attachments and hyperlinks, with the person who forwarded it to them, rather than the Regional Network Team. If you have any comments or feedback on the bulletin – please email us – we are always pleased to hear from you. All content within this Newsletter is at the discretion of West Midlands ADCS Network.


From the RIIA DCS Sponsor:



As the relay race continues, this month it is my turn to write the introduction for Regional Update. Since January you have been introduced to the Chair, two Vice-chairs and the Executive Lead. Over the next few months you will get to meet those DCS’s who act as sponsors to each of our workstreams. Whilst each of the workstreams have their own specific terms of reference and focus, the Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliance, which is my area of lead, could be seen as the glue that holds the system together. Through this work we get to share and show case our best and outcomes and when we receive funding from the DfE, RIIA has the task of ensuring the funds are spent (in superfast time!!) and that the spend is “making a difference”.

Last month Nigel spoke about the diverse arrangements that each DCS has, here in Worcestershire we certainly understand what he was saying. Unlike many alternative delivery models, Worcestershire Children First deliver both social care and education services on behalf of Worcestershire County Council and I act as the CEO and DCS in a combined role. It works for us and me! but its one of a range of models within our region reinforcing Nigel’s point that it is about leading a system that is right for your community and not about the system itself.

Over the last month we have seen the publication of both the Care Review and the National Review into the deaths of Arthur and Star. Additionally, we are still digesting the impact of the Education White Paper and the SEND Green Paper and there is an ongoing consultation on the new Liberty Protection Safeguards and it seems one of us is always mid inspection of some kind. We have all come to accept that change is the only constant in our line of work but right now it seems especially busy.

Whilst inspection time can feel like a head spin on top of the day job they are the opportunity for us to get independent and public validation and positive recognition of the work we are doing and its been great to have had so many “good” inspections on the bounce raising the reputation of our region. No pressure for those of us yet to go! And as i write I’m passing on our collective well wishes to John and the Coventry team.

However I’m going to use my month to put in an “ask” that you don’t take your eye off regional working and that you and your teams continue to engage in the regional forums and workstreams, Our collaboration will undoubtably make us better and stronger in our practice and our emotional health.

Next month Michael Jarrett from Sandwell will be writing this piece, but until then have a good month and when you, can enjoy the early summer sun.


Best wishes


Tina Russell




What’s in a name?

“Regional Update” was a name dreamt up by the Regional Team and was only ever meant to be a working title for this newsletter. So, we were wondering if any of our more creative colleges might want to suggest something catchier?


Please send any ideas to info@wmchildrensservices.org.uk and if we get more than one that is potentially useable, we will run a poll in next month’s update.



Helen Riley:

As many of you might know, Helen Riley is taking well-earned retirement at the end of June. Helen’s is the longest serving DCS in our region and her wisdom, humour, and contribution to our “organisational memory” will be massively missed. Nevertheless, we wish her all the best for the future and know that she leaves Staffordshire in a good place for her successor.


RIIA activity:

As CRABBB activity draws to an end we are looking to ensure that we capture both the learning and outcomes of the 21 individual projects which we have facilitated. An overview report will be published in early July and the regional team are talking to the leads of each strand. However, if you have any individual observations or comments, please email them to info@wmchildrensservices.org.uk and one of the team will make contact.





Key Updates:



Invitation to a free face-to-face learning event on 30th June

Walsall have been lucky enough to have been supported by both the DFE and Hertfordshire in the implementation of the Family Safeguarding Model. The Family Safeguarding Model has completely changed the way in which they deliver services across Children’s Services and in the way in which they work with our partners, both operationally and strategically. This has contributed to an improvement in Walsall’s recent Ofsted judgement. Walsall consider that they have learned a lot along the way and are keen to share this learning with colleagues across the West Midlands. Whilst they understand that some of you will be using a different model, and some may be considering family safeguarding in the future, they have balanced the learning to be widely applicable, with a focus on managing cultural change and working with fathers.


To this end they have planned an exciting interactive session which will describe their journey with a focus on managing cultural change, partnership working and working well with fathers. It would be suitable for team managers and group managers as it will emphasise the practical implications rather than focusing on the strategic direction. Places are limited so book early. There are several local car parks, and the venue is a short walk from New Street Station

Regional Care Leaver Blueprint Launch

The Launch event on 21st June has been postponed due to the unforeseen rail strikes. Communication has been sent to all those on the invite list and we will be in touch as soon as an alternative date is agreed with speakers and venue. A copy of the final blueprint draft will be release prior to the event. We really hope to see you soon.


Regional Induction Handbook

As agreed at the senior leadership event in 2021, we have been working with a colleague in Dudley to produce an online regional Induction handbook for all those new and existing to better understand the regional ADCS network and workstreams. We have shared the draft linked to the regional website with some colleagues in the region and will aim to have a final version accessible in the next few months. If you would also like to get a first glance and offer feedback, please do get in touch (info@wmchildrensservices.org.uk) and a link will be sent to you.


Workforce Workstream and The Big Thinking, Recruitment and Retention Event 2

We are two meetings into the rejuvenated workforce workstream and are very much looking forward to sharing ideas and setting goals for a social work , workforce plan to cover the next 3-5 years. Our new Chairs Lee Pardy-Mcloughlin and Sandeep Virk will be working closely with colleagues to develop the workforce plan, and this will be informed by the Creativity of the Workforce and Wellbeing Projects funded via the DfE CRABBB bid. A half day Big Thinking Event will take place in October to present and review work to date and to set further aspirations for the regions recruitment and retention plan. Invites to follow shortly.


Training and Development Opportunities- **LAST CHANCE TO BOOK**


Culture, Diversity and Anti-Racist Leadership

Round 2 of the programme will be running in person on 24th and 27th June at a venue in Birmingham. Please book your place as soon as possible via info@wmchildrensservices.org.uk

The workshops offer an excellent opportunity for leadership development and to build a community of Anti-racist leadership in practice within the context of local government and children’s services. The programme is specifically developed to support development needs of ADs, Principal Social Workers, and Head of Service or other Level 2/3 leaders across the breadth of children’s services (inc: education, HR etc.)


Aspirant Leaders

There are once again three places left on the Aspirant leaders programme. Please get in touch with Info@wmchildrensservices as soon as possible to book your place.


The orientation residential is on 28th and 29th June and accommodation and meals are provided. We welcome applicants from across the breadth of children’s services. DCS’s and Trust CEOs and assistant directors will have received an invite to endorse Tier 3 and new Tier 2 Leaders to attend the Aspirant Leaders Programme. This is an exciting opportunity to build on leadership skills and will support the progress of those looking to move into AD roles within the next three years. Please see the flyer HERE.


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