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Regional Update – May 2024

From Birmingham Children’s Trust’s Chief Executive and our incoming RIIA Sponsor.


My first message to you all, having started as the new Chief Executive of the Birmingham Children’s Trust in December.  To introduce myself, I am a Social Worker by background, have been a Director of Children’s Services in both London and Greater Manchester over the past ten years, and an active member of ADCS for whom I am the national lead on multi-agency safeguarding.  I am thoroughly enjoying the challenges of serving the children and families of the nation’s second city, even if there are plenty of challenges!  And I’m grateful to the warm welcome I have experienced from colleagues across the region.  I am passionate about the benefits of collaborative working and peer challenge, so expect to be very active in our West Midlands work – and although I swore not to take on sponsoring anything for my first six months, that time is nearly up and I will soon be handed the baton on our Sector-led Improvement work from Tina which I am really looking forward to!


Last month, Alison mentioned that our regional priorities, for 2024-26 were being drafted.  I am pleased to confirm that Network have now signed these off and you will find details below.  Obviously, these are high level and each of our workstreams now needs to agree actions and success measures that will feed into each of the five segments.  The Regional Team will be working with chairs and sponsors to agree the detail and I would encourage you all to get involved, where you can. When we work at a Regional level, we of course hope that anything we do has an impact on each LA areas individual journeys.  To that end, Stoke-on-Trent have recently had a SEND inspection published, Dudley a Focus Visit, Coventry a JTAI and Herefordshire and Solihull have each had a Monitoring visit letter.  Each contains areas of success, and also areas of development, I would encourage you to read each and where appropriate reach out to colleagues, where you think you might offer support, or indeed take on their learning.


In another area of regional development, Network are coming together for a special session in June, to discuss ownership and operating arrangements for our new Safe Centre Secure Children’s Home.  This is a project that is close to my heart, given that Birmingham is leading on its delivery.  So much so, that I have just taken on the SRO role and am now chairing Safe Centre Board.


As always, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all you do for the West Midlands.  As I hope you will sense, from this message, working within a spirit of co-operation across the region is important to me and would encourage you all to get involved, where you can.


Kind regards

James Thomas

Regional Priorities 2024-26:

As James has already mentioned, our regional priorities, for the two years from this September, have now been finalised.


A graphic, showing these at a high level can be found here.  As well as encompassing the child, at the centre, and ED&I wrapped around everything we do, we have also embedded the previous priorities, to act as a reminder of the work that has been achieved and that which is left to do.


Current CPD Opportunities:

West Midlands Teaching Partnership have been working alongside the CPD/Research Group to commission opportunities of CPD. The final of these sessions is: 

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.


The Pulse – Spring Edition:

Colleagues at WME have published their quarterly newsletter.

Key Events:


West Midlands Regional Principal Social Workers Conference 20th June 2024:

The theme of this year’s annual conference is ‘Child and Young People’s Voice” and will feature speakers and good practice from across the region.


If you are interested in attending, please speak to your PSW. Please click here to see the flyer and book your ticket here


Children and Young People in complex situations with multiple needs:

NHSE have organised a webinar to share the aims and progress of this work on Monday 17 June from 3pm – 5pm. The webinar is aimed at those involved in delivering and commissioning care for these children and young people and their families/carers across all sectors.


You can register for your free ticket here.


2024 NOPT Conference:

Tickets are now available for this year’s NOPT Conference, a day of Keynotes and Workshops aimed at supporting the ongoing development of Practice Education across the UK. The conference will take place on Tuesday the 25 Jun 2024, 9am – 4:30pm at the ARU Peterborough.


More details can be found here.


BCU SWEPP Webinar:

Birmingham City University are hosting a Webinar in the “Social Work on the Edge” series which will take place on Wednesday 29th May 2024 12:00pm-1:00pm.

In this webinar titled "It’s not a need or a diagnosis, I hate all of that, it's just me": Understanding 'needs' in a homelessness hostel setting” Karl Mason a Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Course Lead for the MSc Social Work at Royal Holloway, University of London will be presenting on his doctoral study.


You can join by using the MS Teams Link Here.


Leading Change in SEND/AP:

The Staff College and NDTi are thrilled to offer a second cohort on this comprehensive programme designed for ambitious leaders keen to improve life outcomes for children and young people with SEND/AP and their families.


Details can be found here.


WME Annual Workforce Summit:

WME’s Annual Public Sector Workforce Summit will be held at The Studio in Birmingham on Monday 17th June.  Please find further details here – Places are free for subscribed councils.


Aspirant Leaders Programme:  Aimed at tier 3 leaders (Heads of Service, or similar) and following on from our successful cohort in 2022, we are pleased to announce that we have secured eight places on a similar programme this year.


Working with colleagues in the Southwest, we are able to fully fund eight places.  However, applicants will need to secure a commitment from their DCS/Trust CEO that they will be released for all dates and will not be held back for any reason (including Ofsted inspection/visits).


For more details, or to register your interest, please contact Paul Brewster.  Nominations close on 31st May.


Aspirant DCS Programme 2024-2025:  Staff College are delighted to announce that they will be recruiting between 29th April and 7th June 2024 for the next round of the national Aspirant DCS leadership development programme, with onboarding during the Summer and the first residential in late September.


As always, they are keen to attract a diverse range of applicants in terms of protected characteristics as well as professional background.


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:

13th June - 13:30-15:00

Presented by Jennifer Arries from Staffordshire County Council


1st July – 12:00-13:30

Presented by Michelle Warren, Daniel Atkins, and Nigel Jones from Warwickshire County Council


12th July – 09:30-11.00

Presented by Nicola Hale – Dudley MBC


More dates and classes will be announced soon!

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