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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

Taking time to think and plan

Does anyone remember when the politically restricted period prior to an election was a heaven sent opportunity, unencumbered by the weight of political process, to think about and deal with longstanding issues that were important, but not urgent? Similar opportunities exist over Christmas and New Year and of course the entire summer holidays, when you could almost ‘put your proverbial feet up’ and attend to the really important stuff - or is my memory failing me?

In a world that is dominated by 24/7 communications, emails, (yes and blogs!), I am increasingly finding that space to think is confined almost exclusively to train journeys (I am on one as I write) and Sunday afternoons (when I really should be attending to house chores and those I love!). I dream of a life on the railway, taking long journeys across the country (and beyond), where my capacity for space and time to think is greatly enhanced. A top tip is to go for the quiet carriage where even if the mobile does ring – you are forbidden from answering!

The vice presidency so far has involved quite a few such journeys, with many more to come - so generally an opportunity to think more. Chorley on a cold Monday night, Taunton on a spring afternoon - nobody told me I would get to see so much of the world!

Actually, meeting regional ADCS groups with the ‘Pres’ is a great joy. To be able to listen, discuss and debate for an hour or two the key issues of the day is a rare opportunity. The focus has refreshingly been (mostly) on how to improve and enhance opportunities for children, young people and their families, with a minimum focus on Ofsted groaning (a phase now on the verge of making it into the Oxford dictionary)!

It is our intention to build upon the experience, knowledge and expertise of the ADCS regions this year at our annual conference in July. Thoughts gratefully received on the best focus for this session.

As we approach the dawn of a new government, we are uniquely placed as directors of children’s services to shape policy going forward, so the mantra might be ‘shape more - react less’. In order to rise to the challenge, deeper opportunities to think together will be crucial, I look forward to upcoming joint visits with the Pres to North East, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands, Eastern and London, with my utmost apologies going to the West Midlands where the planned session clashes with my daughter’s graduation ceremony.

So my hope is that we use our time together to debate the important issues for children and their families – and that we use the long bank holiday weekend to re-charge and get some ‘down time.’

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