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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

An interesting few weeks

Earlier this week I attended a reunion with a group of much valued former colleagues, some of whom are now basking in the warm glow of retirement and semi-retirement. As the conversation, food and drink flowed, I was the only one of the group having to check my work and personal mobile phones, a perfect metaphor for the impossibly busy lives that directors of children’s services (DCSs) lead. But then again, as they remind me, I was always the baby of the team!

During the course of the evening conversation drifted into the joys and challenges of having space and time and the challenge of making an impact as time passes by. We also mused on how the passage of time somehow allows us all to embrace parts of our personalities that perhaps we would rather deny. The camaraderie and fraternal feelings (aided perhaps by our drinks), led us to conclude that we should all “embrace our inner”…… (I am afraid that it would be unwise for me to go into print with the exact words we alighted on, but I left the right number of dots to aid your vivid imaginations!). The prize of credibility for any reader that correctly guesses the missing word that my esteemed former colleagues think I should embrace.

Last week, many colleagues congregated in Manchester for the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC). It was a busy event packed full of interesting sessions that provoked much discussion and debate. For me it was particularly busy. The joy of the event is catching up with colleagues that I admire and respect but the Presidential schedule made that nigh on impossible. I was, instead, involved in a number of critical discussions with Ofsted about the new inspection regime post SIF; with the Home Office about unaccompanied asylum seeking children and with DfE officials and ministers about the children and social work bill. I was also involved in workshops on improvement and social work.

I realise that moments such as NCASC, as well as being busy and a little overwhelming, how many great DCSs we have to learn from (not forgetting our friends in ADASS). Events like these offer opportunities to embrace a little of what we learn from good role models.

It has been an interesting week this week, yes you will all know what I mean, world events have taken a surprising turn. DCSs and their staff are born collaborators and this binary world in which we live needs more partnership and generosity. My reunion meal was full of good role models, thoughtful and thought provoking and generous with their wisdom – we need more of that.

To top off the week, I was deeply saddened to hear that my great hero Leonard Cohen left this earth today, so a weekend soaked in melancholic, but life affirming music lies ahead, as I’m sure it does for many others too.

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