An essential date for your diary

It may not feel like it now, particularly after recent storms Ciara and Dennis, but Spring will be with us soon and with that comes news of this year’s ADCS Annual Conference taking place from Wednesday 8th – Friday 10th July, in Manchester.

It’s the only conference that’s just for ADCS members so as soon as the dates are published, I block out the space in my diary. This isn’t always easy I know, and sometimes Ofsted can come along last minute and change our plans completely! However, I would say don’t let this get in the way of you planning ahead. Conference gives us the opportunity as a sector to come together to debate the pressing issues of the day, share ideas and develop our thinking and practice. Those days out of the office provide precious time to network with colleagues and participate in what is always an engaging programme.

Although details of the programme won’t be announced till later in the Spring, that won’t stop me booking my place. The conference is always filled with interesting keynote speakers and interactive workshops, allowing time to grapple with the challenges we all face and giving us plenty of ideas to take back to the ranch. Last year’s conference focused on a range of key issues including youth justice, SEND and transitional safeguarding, with both the Children’s Minister and Ofsted on the platform. And I’m sure you’ll remember Andi Brierley from Leeds City Council’s Youth Offending Team who shared his moving story and experiences of the care and youth justice systems.

There are always many conference highlights but for me two stand out in particular. The first is the president’s speech which never fails to set a positive tone for conference. This year, Jenny Coles will take to the stage and address many of the issues we are all facing. Some of you may remember Jenny, as Vice President, wasn’t able to attend last year’s conference, and instead shared her message of support via a pre-recorded video on the big screen. So, I’m really looking forward to hearing from her in person, as she delivers her own presidential address!

The second highlight that you won’t want to miss is led by children and young people themselves on the Friday. Now I know by Friday lots of us want to catch an earlier train, possibly popping back to the office before settling into the weekend. However, I really do urge you to stay on for this session and to catch a later train as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. How can we fail to be inspired by young people themselves! I think we’ve had some really thought-provoking inputs from young people in recent years, sharing with us their messages about what a country that works for all children should look like and their views on the care system. Hearing the voices of children and young people helps strengthen and influence the work we all do, and giving them the ‘last word’ at conference allows us time to sit back, listen and reflect, with their powerful messages still buzzing in our heads as we travel home. At the end of the day - they are the reason why we do the jobs we do.

And if you’re planning on coming for the first time this year, rest assured you will receive the warmest of welcomes (including a handwritten card from our ADCS President!). With everyone under one roof, conference provides a wealth of informal support readily available from colleagues, both regionally and cross-regionally. That time and space to have those face-to-face conversations cannot be underestimated and it’s something I really value and have definitely benefitted from.

So, I know that after spending a few days away from my desk, immersing myself in a programme of high-quality inputs and catching up with colleagues, I will certainly have something enriching to take away…and not just my lunch on the Friday!


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