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Regional Update – March 2024

From our Workforce & Leadership DCS sponsor


I am feeling particularly reflective as I write my last introduction to our Regional Update as I am retiring at the end of June.  I have worked with so many amazing colleagues since I joined Worcestershire in June 2016, moving to Dudley in 2021, and am proud of the work that we have done together across the region. West Midlands is a great place, and we continue in our ambition to promote it as the region where conditions are in place for great professional practice to flourish.  There is something for everyone across our 14 authorities and 3 trusts and lots of opportunities to grow, develop and progress your career.


I am the sponsor DCS for workforce and this reflects my personal top priority in Dudley.  We cannot support our children, young people, and families without sufficient, well trained, and supported staff to achieve positive outcomes. Despite our financial position, we continue to focus on this area, we support and challenge each other and are always looking to innovate and look for new ways to resource further work to support this collaboration. We are always keen to bid for DfE funding and our UASC training programme is one example of bidding success. This was oversubscribed and we are looking for ways to be able to provide more places.


Sadly, we were not successful with our Regional Commissioning Co-operative bid, but there is real determination to continue to develop our thinking and work towards a regional model.


DCS Network has agreed funding for a further round of Aspirant Leaders Programme, and we will be publishing how to apply for places shortly. We are also working to commission another Women of Colour Leadership programme. I spoke at the launch for the last cohort, and it was great to meet such enthusiastic people who were looking forward to a positive experience. 


Inspections are always with us and Wolverhampton and Stoke have had SEND/AP inspections – there will be lots of learning for the region from the experience of the new framework. We had a Focused Visit in Dudley last month and as always colleagues across the region are generous in support and advice. 


As I write this, I am looking forward to the regional network event where we will share and develop priorities. It will be great to see colleagues old and new (welcome Sally Giles to DCS role in Sandwell) and an opportunity to say a fond, if early, farewell. I will miss the opportunity to work with people who share a common purpose and passion to improve outcomes for children and young people and am thankful that I had the chance to be part of something special for the last 8 years.


Kind regards

Catherine Driscoll

It’s that time of year again where Muslims around the globe will be observing fast during the holy month of Ramadan. The fasting period is from sunrise to sunset, during this time Muslims are not allowed to consume food or drink (including water) and abstain from worldly desires. We would like to wish our fellow colleagues a peaceful and Happy Ramadan, may the days you have left, go blissfully.


Regional Team Update:

Ana Davies has started her secondment with Solihull so please contact Paul Brewster for anything that you might usually send to Ana.


Current CPD Opportunities:

West Midlands Teaching Partnership have been working alongside the CPD/Research Group to commission opportunities of CPD. These include:


A safe space for participants to have discussions on the themes of bias and race, and to explore and reflect on their own experiences.


1 in 6 men suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime and 1 in every 3 victims are male. How can we ensure men, and their children receive the support they need in their local community? Training will be delivered over 2 mornings; participants must be able to attend both dates (21st & 22nd May).


Join us as we learn the definition of parental alienation, consider research and theory that can inform practitioners, and explore the impact parental alienation can have on social workers.


UASC Resources:

As Catherine mentioned above, we have now successfully completed the programme of UASC training which we commissioned using a grant from the DfE. Over 120 social workers undertook the Assessment Training and nearly 50 individuals participated in the “Train the Trainer” sessions and can now offer sustainability by delivering courses in their organisation, tailored to local need.


ISWS, who delivered the training for us, have a well-resourced website that provides useful tools and advice. You can access it here.

Key Events:


Regional Master Classes:

Each year our 14 Councils and Trusts share their good practice across the breadth of children’s services in the form of online Master classes. Don’t miss your chance to book onto as many as you like and benefit from the wealth of experience the region brings! Booking is via the links below:


11th April - 13:30-14:30


Presented by Dan Gray and Emma Brittain from Worcestershire Children First


2nd May - 13:00-15:00


Presented by Dan Machin and Louise Spragg from Telford and Wrekin Council


14th May - 11:00-12:30


Presented by Niall O’Connor and Dijon Foster from City of Wolverhampton Council


13th June - 13:30-15:00


Presented by Jennifer Arries from Staffordshire County Council


More dates and classes will be announced soon!


Social Work Practitioner research event:

Are you curious about how you can use research within your practice more effectively?  Are you considering undertaking a small-scale practice-based research project but want a little support and guidance?


Keele University are offing an opportunity to attend a research event on 10th April.  Details can be found here.


Emerging Leaders Apprenticeship Programme:

WM Employers in partnership with SOLACE are running a FREE leadership Programme aimed at Service Managers and Project managers.


For more details, please click here.


County Lines and Exploitation Awareness Training:

West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership are offering an awareness training programme with aims to develop and improve our understanding of the threat from County Lines and Criminal Exploitation.


This is predominantly aimed at professionals from the West Midlands Police Force area.  Details can be found here.

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