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North East Update June 2016

Update for the June 2016 meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

Director Changes

The North East continues to undergo a significant period of change at both director and assistant director level.

The changes which have taken place in recent months can be seen below:

  • In Northumberland Daljit Lally is now the Deputy Chief Executive of the Council and has retained the DCS role with Vanessa Bainbridge taking the DASS role
  • John Pearce and Suzanne Joyner are now holding joint DASS / DCS roles in South Tyneside and Darlington respectively
  • David Bunce has retired from his joint DASS DCS role in Gateshead with the interim role being held by Alison Elliott. Recruitment for the permanent post is on-going throughout May and June
  • Jane Humphreys and Richenda Broad retain the DCS role in Stockton and Middlesbrough respectively with the DASS roles now being held by Peter Kelly and Tony Parkinson
  • Recruitment to the Chief Executive / DCS role of the new Children’s Trust in Sunderland has concluded and Alex Hopkins, currently the DCS in Northamptonshire has been appointed. Alex will commence his role in July 2016
  • Rachael Shimmin will leave her current role as DCS / DASS in Durham in summer 2016 to join Buckinghamshire as Chief Executive.

Alongside changes at director level the region has also seen similar changes at assistant director or Head of Service level. This has seen a great deal of movement between local authorities but recruitment issues have also highlighted the apparent shortage of senior officers from within the region who are able to fill these posts.

Branch Meeting Review

We have recently conducted a review of the purpose of the regional branch meetings in the light of a number of posts disaggregating back into single directorates. However a decision has been made to retain the branch meetings as joint adults and children’s format. We will review this again should the majority of local authorities move towards separate DASS DCS posts. As a result of the review branch meetings in the future will also be used for more strategic discussions about the significant issues across the region with more aspects of the business meeting being delegated to Regional Assistant Director Networks with stronger reporting lines.

Sector Led Improvement Board

Sector Led Improvement Board arrangements for the North East have been in place for over four years as the region has continued to amend its model for adults and children’s SLI based upon a balance between national and local priorities.

Directors have taken stock of the current Board arrangements and their suitability to take the region forward and work is ongoing to understand in detail what a new model will look like although some outline principles have been agreed.

The new model will include:

  • A focus upon self-assessment and director challenge sessions
  • A greater emphasis upon understanding the detail behind regional performance data
  • Greater sharing of peer review findings and a commitment to continue a regional programme
  • The SLI programme to be project focused based upon themes where LAs (any number or arrangement) agree a joint approach would be beneficial
  • A commitment for interested LAs to join resources for a case file audit review programme.

Ann Baxter’s role as LGA Children’s Improvement Adviser has been extended for 12 months.

Peer Review

The regional programme of peer review continues. Newcastle has recently completed a peer review which focussed upon the arrangements they have in place across the transition between children’s and adult services in managing cases of sexual exploitation.

Both Northumberland and North Tyneside volunteered to pilot new approaches to peer review which are more focussed and therefore shorter in length and not as resource (both finance and time) intensive.

North Tyneside’s children’s services successfully adopted an approach used in Yorkshire and Humber to review their front door arrangements which included a case file review audit.

Aspirant Director Programme

The Staff College has developed a bespoke regional programme for aspiring leaders and directors which is being funded via the regional sector-led improvement funding. This is as an acknowledgement that the systems across which public services are planned and delivered are becoming increasingly complex and, consequently, those in senior leadership roles require a bespoke blend of leadership skills and practice reflection. 25 colleagues from across the region (adults and children’s services) are participants on the programme. The programme consists of seven sessions with five so far being delivered. Evaluations to date have shown this< an extremely valuable programme for participants.

Teaching Partnerships

The government defines a teaching partnership as ‘an accredited collaboration between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and employers which delivers high quality training for social work students and qualified practitioners and equips them to practise to specified standards in statutory settings’.

In response to reports on social work education by Sir Martin Narey and Prof. David Croisdale Appleby, the government announced funding for early adopters of the Teaching Partnerships initiative in April 2015. As a result four early adopter sites were funded – the North East region did not bid into the fund in

Following over nine months of collaborative working between local authorities and universities in the region, the North East region submitted a single bid to the Department for Education to fund a Teaching Partnership for the region to the tune of around £520,000 in May 2016.

The Partnership is an alliance between the 12 local authorities in the region and four campus based universities (Northumbria University, University of Sunderland, Teesside University and New College Durham) as well as the Open University and supported by the North East Directors of Children and Adult Services branch and the size of the bid into the Department for Education reflects this.

Durham University, whilst in principle supportive of the bid, was unable to join the partnership in time for the bid submission on 23 May. It is hoped that Durham University will join the partnership at a later date.

If funded the Partnership will be a large scale transformation project for the delivery of social work education in the region. It will look at the full range of the student and practitioner experience including admissions, academic delivery, placements, programme content, employability and academics experience of practice.

Ofsted – Single Inspection Framework Inspections

Seven local authorities in the region have had their inspection under the Single Inspection Framework.

Hartlepool and Gateshead = Good

Northumberland, Middlesbrough and Durham = Requires Improvement

Darlington and Sunderland = Inadequate

Stockton received their notification of the commencement of an inspection on 23 May 2016.

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