A director who stands up for social work: our second social work hero

Although not a social worker by background Rachael Wardell is serious about rewarding social work commitment

Rachael Wardell
Rachael Wardell, West Berkshire's director of children's services (Picture credit: Phil Adams)

Rachael Wardell, the corporate director of communities, with responsibility for children’s and adults’ services at West Berkshire council, has endeared herself to many with the transparency of her decision making, her diplomacy and, of course, the recent decision to give children’s social workers a record £15,000 bonus after three years of service with the council.

The council is also offering children’s social workers three months’ paid sabbatical after three years of service as well as clinical supervision and free parking.

Despite West Berkshire being rated inadequate by Ofsted and placed on an improvement notice by the government, Wardell prides herself on not losing any social workers throughout this process.

No scapegoating

She told Community Care at the time: “It’s unusual for a council, after a bad Ofsted judgement, to not only not lose staff but also see their agency bill go down.

“Often in local authorities there is a culture of blame and scapegoating and we have been very clear that isn’t going to happen.”

Although not a social worker by background Wardell has told Community Care this means she is a better listener.

“If you don’t have the background expertise of having been a social worker then I think it’s important that you show respect to those who do and absorb their knowledge and experience.

“My style isn’t to say I have the best idea and to try and impose it on people. But I ask questions at every opportunity and see if the seeds planted bear fruit.”

Professor Sue White from the University of Birmingham, who nominated her as a social work hero, says: “Rachael Wardell is a completely good egg. Very wise and humane.”

A box of chocolates is winging its way to West Berkshire as we type. Thanks Rachael for standing up for social work!

Do you know someone who should be recognised for all the good social work or social care they are doing? Nominate them by tweeting us (@CommunityCare #swhero #standup4sw) tell us on facebook, Instagram (Community_Care) or email us judy.cooper@rbi.co.uk

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