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The Importance of Being Associated

In my final week of a 42 year very full-time (100% attendance) career, I am being given a number of opportunities for reflection including this blog. One of my reflections, given the number of cards I have received with owls on them, is that it is possible to go from bright young thing to wise old bird in what feels now like no time at all.

Focusing on my over thirteen consecutive years as a Director of Children’s Services (DCS), the importance of the ‘A’ in ADCS looms large. I joined the ADCS on its inception when I was Assistant Director in Camden 2004-2009 and on moving to Milton Keynes as DCS when it was one of the four local authorities in the country then judged ‘inadequate’, it was the only external meeting I hung onto for the first 18 months given the support the South East regional group provided. On moving to Brent, which was also then in a precarious situation, I stepped back for a while from chairing a regional group but again regularly attended regional Association of London DCS (ALDCS) meetings. The DCS role is of itself hugely rewarding but continuously challenging and it is from experienced colleagues and the outstanding staff at ADCS that much support comes.

With an active approach to succession planning and developing potential DCS’ my substantive successors in both local authorities as DCS have been one of my Assistant Directors, both of whom have had the importance of ADCS emphasised to them as have all the aspiring and newly appointed DCS’ I have mentored.

Since early 2019 I have had the privilege of chairing the ADCS Educational Achievement Policy Committee, engaging with a lively and knowledgeable set of regional representatives and members. This has also meant that I have continued to be part of ADCS Council of Reference where regional and policy committee chairs contribute diligently with the presidential team to represent the views of this member association frequently and at the highest levels. I know even from the meetings I have been in over the summer that the contribution of ADCS is again well regarded in the DfE. Our involvement in the implementation planning for the Education White Paper and Schools Bill and the response to the SEND and AP Green Paper Consultation with our emphasis on inclusive schools, is well embedded and builds on the respect for our role which was evidenced and strengthened during the pandemic.

There is no doubt that as I move on to a more part-time portfolio of activities from 1st September, I will miss all aspects of the full-time, full on DCS role. An unexpected benefit however is that for the remainder of this membership year to March 2023 I am a fully paid up Associate Member of ADCS.

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