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North East September Update 2015

The North East Region continues to undergo a period of significant change in personnel and structure. Lately we have seen Gill Alexander (Hartlepool) and Helen Watson (South Tyneside) leave the Directors Group and Sally Robinson and Mike Conlon join. In the next few months we will also see the retirement of Jenni Cooke (Darlington) and Jean Griffiths (North Tyneside). As a result, it is projected by the end of the year that all 12 local authorities in the North East will have twin-hat Directors with some also having responsibility for portfolios including public health, housing, leisure etc.

Four local authorities in the region have been involved in the first joint Early Help Peer Review with the LGA. Phase 1 was a 2 day on site visit focusing on the four local authorities within the scope of the Peer Review and getting to understand the area / challenges etc. The second element of the Peer Review was a four day exercise that looked at the focus on the contribution of different partners to Early Help. The work involved case file audits, focus groups at the frontline and interviews with senior managers across all agencies.

Work is currently on-going with Mott MacDonald to develop a Tees Wide Sub-Regional Adoption Agency that includes Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Darlington.

The region has also established a North East Tackling Exploitation Board which includes senior representatives from local authorities, the three police forces in the region, NHS England and a local academic. The Board seeks to progress actions from a regional workshop held on 4th September 2015 on Lessons Learnt from Operation Sanctuary around tackling the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults.

We are developing a regional website to bring together all the new workforce initiatives within the region including participation in Frontline, Step Up to Social Work, Think Ahead and to promote our regional masterclass programme. We are also now recruiting to Cohort 1 of the North East Aspirant DCS programme in partnership with the Virtual Staff College, this will involve 25 participants from local authorities across the region who are currently working at second and third tier level (Assistant Director / Head of Service).

Discussions are underway with all 12 local authorities and the universities in the region (plus York University) about the future of social work training within the region in the context of the Teaching Partnerships paper published by the Department for Education. Anton Florek from the Virtual Staff College will facilitate a session later in the year between all parties around scenario planning of the different models possible within the region.

The Regional Sector Led Improvement Board has designed a Children’s Balanced Scorecard to capture soft data outside of the Regional Benchmarking Report that is published on an annual basis. This scorecard will be trialled alongside the Adult Balanced Scorecard in Autumn 2015. The aim of the scorecard is to build on the data in the Benchmarking Report and provide some guidance around the future of the focus of a regional peer review programme.

Local authorities in the region are working with the North East Raising Aspiration Partnership (a partnership of the five universities in the region) to deliver a targeted programme of activity at young carers with the aim of driving up participation in HE and FE of this group.

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