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Regional Update – October 2022

From our Workforce & Leadership DCS Sponsor:

Colleagues as a DCS workforce sponsor for the region I am delighted to welcome you to this edition of Regional Update. I'm excited that this month we host our Team Excellence Awards celebrating the fantastic achievements of a team in each Local Authority and Children’s Trust. I have always felt it's a real privilege to work with societies most vulnerable children and their families. They deserve the very best in public service and our respected colleagues across the children’s workforce are vital to this mission. This is why I am personally committed to ensure we do everything in our power to create a competent and confident workforce across the region. Also, this month, our Big Thinking Event took place. Both events are central planks in our commitment to building a stronger, more stable workforce. Each addresses this central priority in a different way, with BTE around seeking creative solutions to the wicked issue, which is recruitment and retention. Whilst TEA is our showcase, which reminds us how privileged we are to have amongst the finest children’s workforce professionals in the country.

Many of us will currently be feeling the pressure of increased demand for services, increasing poverty, the cost-of-living crisis and the aftermath of the pandemic at a time when regional workforce pressures excel. There is no silver bullet to solving the shortage of social workers, but we are stronger together and only by working with one voice with the agency social work providers will we even begin to manage this space. Without a flexible and committed workforce we will not be able to meet the challenges caused by fluctuations in demand.

All children deserve at least one trusted adult in their lives and for many, this will be their social worker. This is why it is so essential that we create high levels of stability in our workforce and for our children to make a real difference to their lives.

Since the last edition of Regional Update, Herefordshire have seen their ILACS judgement published, and Solihull have been the subject to more parliamentary comment. Both have attracted further press coverage, and as always, we stand united, as a region, and are here to support both leadership teams. Stoke have also seen the inspectors call and are awaiting the publication of their judgement.

That just leaves me to say, as the nights get longer, and warm days migrate to the Southern Hemisphere for winter, it is probably more important than ever that we look after ourselves, and each other. So please do take a look at the Team Excellence publication, below, and remember you are all excellent people, achieving wonderful things for children and families in the West Midlands.

Best wishes

John Gregg

Solihull DCS:

We are pleased to welcome Pete Campbell to the role of Director of Children’s Services & Skills in Solihull. Whilst new to the region Pete joins us with a wealth of experience gained in roles across the South of the country. With the DCS position now being filled on a permanent basis, Tim Browne will be returning to his substantive position. I am sure you will all join us in wishing Tim well?

Team Excellence Awards 2022:

At the time this edition of Regional Update is due to be published, we will be mid-way through our Team Excellence Awards for 2022. This event brings together Outstanding teams from across the region, with each DCS and Trust CEO nominating, and presenting, their Team of Excellence 2022. To accompany the event we have published a brochure, a digital version of which can be found here. However, we thought it was worth reiterating a quote from the introduction, written by Emma Bennett, our current Chair.

“Of course, we had to pick the best we have, but across the region there are literally thousands of individuals, be they social workers, educationalists, early help professionals and our army of business support, who all come to work every day to serve their communities by doing their absolute best. You are amazing people who achieve amazing things, and who sadly only seem to get press coverage when things don’t go quite right. So as much as Team Excellence is about us presenting our Outstanding, it is also a salute to every member of the children’s workforce in the West Midlands.”

Please take time to read all about the teams that have been nominated this year and share the publication far and wide. It promotes the West Midlands as a place where children’s services are ever moving forward, which is great news for the people we serve and for our workforce.

The Big Thinking Event 2022:

We held our second recruitment and retention Big Thinking Event with colleagues across the WM ADCS Network and were joined by partners such as WM Employers and WM Teaching Partnership. The event covered a snapshot of the work completed to date and the pre-release of the Workforce Creativity and Wellbeing blueprints due to be shared at the start of November. The Event outcomes will inform the recommendations for an executive summary and options paper to be presented to the DCS Network in November. We would like to thank everyone for their contribution and particularly Sandeep Virk and Emma Kirkland-Krumbein for their leadership on the blueprints and findings. We very much welcome an ongoing strategic lens from our DCS and AD Networks.

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 have made some changes. Please do take a first look at the handbook as this is designed to support all colleagues to better understand the connectivity of the WM ADCS and your role in this.

The link can be found here.

Leadership Programmes:

We are currently taking interest for another round of the Aspirant Leaders Programme, should we proceed to commission a further round in the coming year.

We are also looking to commence an additional leadership course for Women of Colour. This would be aimed at those in middle management up to HOS level.

Please contact to register your interest in either of these programmes.

Key Events: Schooling for the future: The Staff College are holding a Think Tank Event on 10th and 11th November. This will provide a chance for discussion with peers, to consider and review the policy, practice and purpose of our schooling systems. For further details please click here. Mentor-Mentee requests to social work staff: The West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership Mentoring Scheme has just been launched as part of their Continuous Improvement Funding from the Department for Education. The scheme is available to any qualified social workers or managers. The content of mentee applications will be kept confidential, though line managers must indicate separately that they support the application, and the mentee will be facilitated to attend mentoring sessions. View the full information and step by step guidance on their website: Apply to become a mentee PSW Network Master Classes: It is with great pleasure that the West Midlands PSW Network are running a second programme of virtual Masterclasses until March 2023. The Free masterclasses are aimed at colleagues from all areas of children’s services in addition to children’s social care. We particularly encourage a mix of all seniorities where all levels of experience are welcomed. As well as this being a great opportunity to learn and share best practice which you can add to your CPD records, this is also an opportunity to build connections within the region! Please see the flyer, here, where you will find a list of masterclasses and links to sign up via Eventbrite. You can sign up to as many classes as you wish. More classes to follow at a later date. BALI programme: Facilitated by The Staff College, the BALI programme is aimed at experienced middle leaders working in children's services, who identify themselves as being from a Black or Asian background and have support of the organisation that employs them. APPLICATIONS FOR THE BALI PROGRAMME ARE OPEN NOW - details can be found here. Women in Leadership: ARE YOU READY TO JOIN THE WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME? Seize the chance to engage and learn with women working in a variety of sectors and roles, drawn from difference ethnicities, backgrounds and geographies, sharing experiences and perspectives. The Staff College Women In Leadership programme has been specifically designed to be interactive, reflective, and leave you with a plan of action. For more details, please look here. Social Work Leadership Pathways Programme: As many of you are aware there are also four new pathways which are free to access which cover CPD at management and senior levels. Frontline are taking applications for 2023 and if you have an interest, please get in touch with them directly or with the regional team to reserve places on each course. Details can be found here.

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