ADCS: Leadership scheme will tackle ‘unique’ trials for directors

A new leadership programme for directors of children’s services will address the “unique” challenges of the role, Association of Directors of Children’s Services president Maggie Atkinson said today.

The programme was announced yesterday, alongside the Social Work Taskforce, and will be led by ADCS, in partnership with the Children’s Workforce Development Council and the National College for School Leadership.

The national initiative will provide skills development to both existing directors of children’s services and senior managers interested in stepping up to the role.

Unique challenges

Atkinson said the “unique” challenges faced by directors required a wide range of skills and knowledge extending beyond the previous professional experience of individuals in the role.

It will be the first national development programme specifically for the position, created by the Children Act 2004 to bring together professional accountability for education and children’s social care.

Directors can only succeed in their overall goal – helping all children in the area achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes – by holding their own staff and their partners to account, Atkinson said.

Peer support

So far, she explained, directors have developed their own skills through various capacity-building programmes, but much of it has been through peer support and on-the-job training.

“It is now time to ensure that a strong training programme is in place which recognises the unique position of the DCS.”

The joint area review into safeguarding arrangements in Haringey, north London, ordered by the government following the Baby P case, found multiple failings at senior level in Haringey children’s services.

Haringey: unreliable performance data

For example, performance data submitted by the director to members was unreliable, while at a strategic level, there was a lack of shared responsibility across the council for corporate parenting arrangements.

Performance in the additional functions introduced under the Children Act 2004 was also criticised. One such requirement was the publication of a children and young people’s plan, setting out the council’s priorities for children in the area. The inspectors found “limited evidence” that Haringey’s plan was being put into practice on the front-line.

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