Munro adviser who transformed children’s services in Hackney named chief social worker

Former assistant director Isabelle Trowler, who advised Professor Eileen Munro on the redesign of children and families social work in England, has been chosen by the Department for Education to lead reform in the profession.

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A former practitioner who helped to transform children’s services in Hackney by introducing a new approach to structuring teams has been named chief social worker for children in England.

Isabelle Trowler will work alongside her adults counterpart Lyn Romeo to improve performance in social work, lead reform in the profession and champion and spread best practice from this autumn.

During her time as assistant director for children’s social care in the London Borough of Hackney from 2006 to 2011, Trowler co-founded Reclaiming Social Work, now commonly referred to as the “Hackney model”.

The model saw Hackney move from having traditional social work teams to units, which each comprised a consultant social worker, social worker, a child practitioner, a clinical therapist and an administrator. Other councils have since adopted a similar approach.

Trowler also advised Eileen Munro’s review of child protection in England about the redesign of children and families social work.

Education secretary Michael Gove said: “Good social workers literally save lives; the bad can leave them in ruins. I am delighted that Isabelle Trowler has agreed to lead our reform programme, to challenge as well as to champion the profession so that vulnerable children and families are better protected.”

Trowler said: “I know the best social work can transform lives, but too often we only hear about the things that go wrong. I want to raise standards throughout the profession so that every social work team in the country is as good as the best.

“Children’s social work is one of the hardest jobs a person can accept and offers a unique opportunity to work with the most vulnerable families in the country. I am very excited by the opportunity I have to champion social work as well as challenge the profession, its employers and educators too, to deliver the very best for families.”

Bridget Robb, interim chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said: “Isabelle has proven through her innovative work in Hackney the powerful impact social workers can have on people’s lives when there is a real commitment to enabling them to do their jobs properly.

“We trust that this insight will be taken forward in her new post, constantly emphasising to ministers the potential for social work to make a difference if the workforce is properly supported.”

Trowler will take up her post full time in September.

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