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Regional Update – November 2023

From our RIIA Sponsor:

As Lead DCS for our Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliance (RIIA) it’s going to be no surprise that my regional update focuses on regional improvement activity that has taken place over the last 18 months.

I last wrote the introduction to Regional Update in June last year. At that time DCS Network were working on a new Regional Priority Plan and I used the opportunity to ask you all to maintain a focus on working collaboratively across the West Midlands.

Here I am again, nearly a year and a half later, and I wanted to reflect on where we have got to as a region.

Since the summer of last year Ofsted have published six ILACS inspection reports in our region, of those four local authority areas have improved or maintained their overall judgement. As I write, this means that nine of our 14 children’s services are judged Good or better, that’s 64% so an improvement from our 50% when we embarked on the current improvement plan. We have yet to meet our 80% target, but we will!

As we all will acknowledge, Ofsted judgements are a reflection of the work we do as it meets the regulatory expectations and standards, but we believe that within all our services there is outstanding work taking place making a difference to the lives of children and their families.

In our collaborative works we have bid to become a Regional Care Co-operative pathfinder and we have reached stage 2; work has continued at pace, to develop a new placement portal; we have managed the very challenging increased costs in Social Care and SEND placements; a programme aimed at helping women of colour break down barriers and enter leadership roles has seen 20 participants graduate; we have worked together to commit to our MOU; we have contributed to and influenced, countless Government consultations, but most specifically the Child and Family Social Worker Workforce response; we have shared learning in regard to opening new Family Hubs; and we are continuing to work towards starting new House Projects across the region. All this and countless other activities show that collaboration across our great region is working.

So, my ask in June 2022 was that you don’t take your eye off regional working. My ask this time is that you keep doing the same. With some significant changes taking place in senior roles across the region it is as important as ever that every LA/Trust ensures they have representation and active contributions to the regional workstreams that benefit us all.

Best wishes

Tina Russell

ADCS Blog:

Earlier in the month Jo Britton, in her capacity as West Midlands Chair, wrote an article for the National ADCS blog. If you have not already read this, you can find it here.

SEND Co-ordinator:

Pat Bullen has now moved on to her new role in the East Midlands and we are pleased to welcome Jane Carter to the Regional Team, to lead on this important area of practice.

Jane can be contacted at:

The Participation Leads Network needs you:

Please can you complete this corporate parenting survey and share far and wide to inform next steps within the participation leads network. If you have any queries, please contact Abdul Kahar

New Chairs and Sponsors:

Dan Gray (Worcestershire Children First) will now co-chair Workforce and Leadership workstream with John Coleman (Warwickshire).

Nisha Gupta (Staffordshire) is the new sponsor for the PSW Network.

Regional Safeguarding Network Conference:

On the 8th November we welcomed CP Chairs, IROs and Safeguarding Leads for our first RSN Conference. Colleagues from 12 LA’s were present and an excellent array of speakers bringing good practice to the fore – thank you! You can find brief feedback of the event here and a PDF copy of the slides here.


We understand the final paperwork is being drawn up to confirm a successful regional bid to support the growing needs for UAS Children. Thanks to WM Strategic Migration Partnership for their work and collaboration on this. The bid will support the provision of best practice guidance and a rolling Age Assessment, case law and a train the trainer programme up to March 2024. Please keep an eye out for communications as this is a short window to undertake training of approximately 120 staff across the region. It will be aimed at legal officers, solicitors, managers and social workers who undertake, advise on and approve Age Assessments.

Key Events:

SEND Leadership Programme 2024

Midlands NHSE and the East and West Midlands DCS’s have commissioned a four-day regional programme, based on the highly successful seven-year national programme which was run by the National Development team for Inclusion (NDTI).

Applications are invited from Senior Local Authority SEND Managers and Leaders of Education, Social Care or Health (including DCOs and DMOs) with significant strategic responsibilities for delivering support and services around SEND.

More details can be found here.

SWE Request for Stakeholder engagement

The DfE’s Social Worker Training, Development and Leadership Division are gathering information and evidence as part of our ongoing assessment of routes into child and family social work, in order to inform continuous improvement of what is working well and where the service could improve.

DfE are working with the Open Innovation Team (OIT), who will be gathering insights and exploring evidence. The OIT work across government helping departments to understand evidence, generate ideas and develop policy and services.

The project will gather information and evidence through stakeholder engagement and consider what works best within the current training programmes, with a focus on the department's key objectives of sufficiency, practice quality, and stability. They will also identify gaps and opportunities which should be addressed to meet priorities for the social worker workforce.

They are keen to engage social workers and stakeholders with experience of initial education, this will involve talking to the OIT via interviews or taking part in a focussed workshop during November and December 2023.

If you would like to be involved in the project and agree for your details to be passed to the OIT, please contact Bekka Leigh.

The Teaching Partnership and LGA workforce project

PCH have commissioned an independent workforce planning specialist to provide consultancy support to teaching partnerships free of charge. The WMSWTP have taken up this offer and are seeking feedback from our partners about local workforce planning priorities, in order to inform the development of a regional plan.

Would you be available for a 30-minute Teams call to chat with Joanne Capaldi about your experience and challenges in securing the supply of newly qualified social workers? (They are particularly interested in what data is being recorded about the various qualifying routes, practice placements and NQSWs; in addition to finding out about local approaches to planning the Practice Educator workforce). If so, please email Joanne with your availability between 20th November and 15th December 2023.

NB. The project findings will be summarised into a written report and shared with partners.

Please contact Sue DeWaal for more information.

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