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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

Receiving the baton at full pace

By the time that you read this, the machinery of ADCS will have worked its magic and the baton that Charlotte handed over to me in her last blog will be firmly gripped in my paws. It’s been such a pleasure working with Charlotte over the last year. Not knowing each other that well beforehand we’ve been thrown together through difficult circumstances and the sheer busyness of what has been happening in the sector; I think we’ve managed to forge a great friendship during that time and, I like to think, a pretty formidable partnership. Thank you Charlotte, for everything. This next year sees John Pearce, Director of Children’s Services (DCS) in Durham, moving into the Vice President’s role and John has already made an impact, joining our regular meetings with the Department for Education and others.

Before Charlotte handed over, there was still time for us both to represent ADCS at a reception thrown by the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street to honour those who worked in the children’s sector during the response to the pandemic. I’d be the first to say that the response isn’t over yet given the high infection rates that we still see but it was nice to be able to represent DCSs at this event and another marker I think, that ADCS as an organisation continues to have strong influence and recognition.

One of my incoming Presidential duties recently has been to talk to aspiring Directors on the Upon programme run by the Staff College. Whilst I am not sure how useful my words of wisdom were, it was exciting to see the next generation of system leaders coming through and I hope that they will become as involved in ADCS as so many of you are.

I now look ahead to the next year with some excitement and just a little trepidation of course. There are two major pieces of policy on the starting blocks. The SEND Green Paper and the Schools White Paper have now both been published and we will continue to work with government as they progress. Both reports, I am pleased to say, bear the imprint of our influence – something that has been painstakingly built up over years. It shows the importance of patience, winning the arguments and relentlessness in the way in which, for example, we now see changes to the powers of local authorities being put forward by government. There is much more to come of course when the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care is published. We will want to respond to these papers as an association and further influence how the subsequent policies are rolled out. To do this we are trialling some new ways of working for ADCS, bringing together representatives from different policy committees to get a fully rounded response, pulled together in quick time, using the new technologies that we are now all so reliant on.

Before I go, a quick word on our collective responses to the crisis in Ukraine. As well as working with the Department for Education and the Home Office in helping them to understand some of the issues on the ground, I have been in touch with DCSs during the past week to get a handle on how we are all responding as the situation unfolds at pace. I know that the next few weeks and months will be challenging for us as we try to ensure that Ukrainian refugees are safe and welcomed in the right accommodation with good schools and support services available for the children. Nevertheless, I know that we will also rise to that challenge, as we always have done, putting children first.

I wonder what else the year ahead will have in store for us. Whatever it will be, I know that I will be supported by the brilliant ADCS team and John as the Vice President and Charlotte as the Immediate Past President. Teamwork is the basis upon which ADCS has prospered and so it will continue.

It is an honour to be able to represent you all for the coming year as we continue to do all we can to get things right for every child and young person.

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