The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has named Alan Wood, Hackney’s director of children’s services, as its new president.
Wood takes over the role from Andrew Webb, the corporate director for services to people at Stockport Council.
“The challenges facing children’s services are as great as they ever have been,” said Wood of his appointment.
“Local authorities face unenviable choices about how best to maintain vital services and support for children, young people and families with less and less money and staff to do so.
“Despite very difficult economic challenges, we continue to see excellent practice throughout our services that not only safeguard and protect our children but also improve their life chances.
“Our task, as leaders, is to ensure this excellent practice characterises children’s services consistently on a national basis.
“As the pace of reform continues unbated, the role of directors of children’s services in bringing together a coherent vision at local and national level becomes increasingly important.”
As a result of the move Alison O’Sullivan, director of children and adults at Kirklees Council, replaces Wood as vice-president of the association.
“I look forward to supporting Alan in his role as president of the association in what will undoubtedly be another year during which the pressures on children’s services will increase,” she said.
“I have no doubt that local government can rise to the challenges that will be laid at our collective doors.”
Profile: Alan Wood
Alan Wood grew up in London’s east end and started his career in children’s services as a history teacher working in London.
When the Learning Trust, the not-for-profit company tasked with improving schools in Hackney, was created in 2002 he was made its chief executive. The trust has been widely credited with transforming the quality of education in the London borough.
In January 2006 Wood was appointed director of children’s services in Hackney.
Under his watch, the London borough created the ‘Hackney model’ of children’s social work where cases are allocated to units of staff rather than individual workers.
In 2013 he was part of the review that recommended the creation of an independent trust to oversee children’s services in Doncaster. As a result of this work he now oversees the Yorkshire authority’s improvement work as its commissioner for children’s social care.
Wood also played a central role in the review of children’s social care in Birmingham, which was published last month.
He is now involved in the government’s improvement capacity review, which is charged with devising options for how the Department for Education could intervene when children’s social services at a local authority are deemed inadequate by Ofsted.