From Stoke-on Trent City Council’s Director of Children and Families:
They say time flies when you are having fun, and so it is that I have had the privilege to be the DCS in Stoke-on-Trent for over a year now. I am not sure where the time goes and although we still have much to do on our journey, I am also chuffed at how much we have achieved and completed.
We have big challenges and equally big successes. The city calls itself ‘Small but mighty’ and I think that is most apt.
Demographically we have high rates of deprivation and intergenerational education challenges; higher than average rates of children in need of SEND and SEND support. 1 in 57 of our children are in the care and 1 in 25 children (or 2 in every class or setting) has a social worker. There is much to do and to stop being overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge and levels of need, but we keep calm, focused on the job at hand and bring our expertise and experience to bear. This perseverance led to our successful ILACS in October 22 and a first judgement of ‘good’ for children in care and care leavers. In fact, it was the first good judgement that this City has ever received. I have my senior leadership team to thank for this and the leadership and quality they have given to the wider children’s workforce.
In the area of ‘more to do’, I like others, are hoping that potential systemic changes will be brought about by the DfE proposals ‘Stable Homes Built on Love. My ‘more to do’ can only be achieved by wholescale workforce reform, a coordinated strategy for prevention and early support and reform of placement sufficiency. I know collectively we will continue to influence this national conversation because it is the only way to get better outcomes for children.
As a ‘newbie’ to the West Midland region, I also wanted to say how great it is to join such a collegiate and thoughtful group of DCS’s. Given the clear commitment of the group, it only seemed fair that I stepped up and took on a lead, and so I somehow found myself volunteering as our lead for SEND. I hope I can do it justice.
SEND inspection wise, the highly anticipated reports from the new framework inspections have just been published 50215729 (ofsted.gov.uk) (Warrington), 50215730 (ofsted.gov.uk) (Cornwall) and whilst I have only skim read them at the time of writing this, they are already interesting reading and there will be a lot for us to dissect!
Wishing you all the best 😊
John Gregg has announced that he will be moving to a new position in July. John has been an inspiration, both to Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Region as a whole. He has overseen his own local authority through some difficult times, ultimately leading them to a Good (across the board) Ofsted judgement and has been an absolute champion as sponsor of our Workforce and Leadership Workstream. John’s presence will be deeply missed across the region, but his move to Peterborough City Council, as Executive Director of Children’s Services, represents a great move for him and we know his voice will continue to be heard through his untiring support for the ADCS.
As you will all be aware Birmingham have recently been subject to an ILACS and are now pleased to confirm their Good (across the board) judgement. This is a massive achievement, for the largest single tier local authority area in the country and is a continuation of their journey since the formation of a children’s trust. However, it is also a landmark for the region, because it means more of our 14 LA’s are judged to be Good, or better, than are not. Our congratulations go out to Andy and Jenny, at the Trust and Sue at the City Council, as well as their respective teams.
There have been a number of recent CEO changes in the region, and this gives us the opportunity to look again at how best to engage this group, collectively, in our work. Additionally, we are also holding a Finance Directors session in October. Alongside our already strong Lead Members Network, we are looking to promote, at a regional level, an enhanced Strategic Leadership understanding and approach to the complexities of children’s services.
Regional priorities update:
As we mentioned last month our regional priority plan has been extended for a further six months. This is a reflection of how well the programme is embedding into the way we work together. You can find the regional Priority Plan here.
Equality Diversity and Inclusion Programmes
There are a number of regional and national programmes aimed at enabling diversity in leadership with spaces 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). This cohort is likely to commence following the summer period and places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis and dates for the autumn cohort will be released in the next few weeks.
Please contact Ana Davies to reserve places for your LA
Core programme overview:
Trauma Informed Practice and Supervision - West Midlands Regional Conference on 22nd June 2023.
Please click here to see the flyer which provides details on how to sign up for this annual conference organised by the Principal Social Workers Network.
Please share and encourage staff to book via the Eventbrite link here.
Research – Cash for Care Leavers
Local authorities, via the PSW network, will have been considering the opportunity to get involved with the Kings College London ‘Cash for Care leavers’ Research project.
You can also contact Michael Saunders at KCL for more information or to sign up to this research, if you have not already done so.