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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

An Interesting Week

This is an interesting week to have the responsibility for the ADCS blog. We now know the outcome of the EU referendum and the decision made to leave the EU. This has left many of us concerned about what’s next for the UK, and of course, what this means for local government. During the campaigning period I have been particularly struck by a number of articles and programmes seeking young people’s views. One of our local schools in Barking and Dagenham featured in one of these. I only hope the people who voted in the referendum gave sufficient thought to the future of these young people in reaching their decisions.

For me personally, it is also a strange period, as I will be retiring at the end of July after 40 years working in and around children’s services, starting in residential children’s homes, then working in education and local government before finally having the opportunity to become a DCS. What a fantastic opportunity it is, having the chance to shape and develop services designed to ensure that agencies’ silos do not stop children from being safe and from succeeding. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed (nearly) every minute! I’m quitting while I’m ahead – before people are desperate for me to go and whilst I can still maintain what I feel are essential principles and values.

The great thing about being a DCS is that if ever you doubt why you are doing the job all you need to do is speak with young people, hear their ambition and determination; or take time to reflect on how some young people succeed against all the odds; or listen carefully to a young person who is frightened or confused to re-kindle the passion we all have for our work. It’s not always easy to keep that at the forefront of our minds whilst we listen to financial reductions, debates about structure rather than quality, and read media articles criticising many aspects of the children’s workforce. The fact is, I do not meet people who care anywhere near as much about their jobs outside of children’s services and I can’t help thinking that it remains crucial that an organisation such as ADCS is giving strong clear messages about the need to get things right from the start for our country’s children.

I have had huge support from the ADCS – from encouragement to consider leadership, through training, sharing of expertise, reflection and debate through to a shoulder to cry on and coaching support to arrive at solutions when dogged by problems. I know each of the ADCS regional groups does amazing things but, of course, the London group is my favourite. A fantastic range of skills, a huge commitment to helping each other out , so much learning from each other and occasionally a healthy debate or two or even just a chance to laugh together at the enormity of it all! It is a monumental job that I couldn’t have done without the support of colleagues in ALDCS and ADCS. I’ve really enjoyed chairing the London branch – the good thing about being Chair is you get to organise the experts without having to be one yourself ... and I had an excellent mentor in Yvette Stanley who is nobly retaking up the Chair when I leave.

Rest assured (or be warned!)I will not be stopping working with and around children – I’m just giving up all the bits I don’t like, including the hours of meetings where I have learnt about things that I cannot influence or help with like types of tarmac and costs of recycling options, when I could have been addressing quality and performance issues.

We work in an amazing profession that is really making a difference to children’s lives, we should celebrate what has been achieved. I look forward to watching you all continue to innovate and to lead the work to improve children’s outcomes, I will be happily cheering from the sidelines.

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