Change, challenge, collaborate: lead the transformation of children’s services in Devon

A feature sponsored by Devon County Council


As one of the largest counties in the UK, there is a lot more to Devon than clifftops and coastlines. Devon’s social landscape presents diverse, challenging and complicated issues. The council is the second largest authority in England, serving 750,100 of 1.1 million individuals in Devon. With the population rising and people living longer, the demand for its services is intensifying. As such, the council is thinking creatively and acting more innovatively than ever before to become one of the most progressive local authorities in the country.

Recently, it has been working hard to reshape how things are done to ensure that it’s delivering the best possible outcomes for the children and young people of Devon. Committed to protecting individuals and supporting children, young people and families to get the help, care and protection they need and deserve, the council is currently looking for a head of children’s social work, deputy director of children’s service to lead its journey of transformation.

‘Driving change’

Phil Norrey, chief executive of Devon County Council, explains:

To say that it’s an exciting time for children’s services here at Devon County Council would be an understatement. With an unapologetic commitment to the individual and a continuous evolutionary approach to change, we’ve worked hard and made bold decisions recently in order to better our services. Our current post holder has laid good foundations and I’m now looking for an influential leader to head up our children’s services and build on our strengths to take us to the next level. Collaboration and transformation will be significant in this role. Joining us, you’ll drive change to meet challenges and deliver person-centred services of the highest quality.”

Two years on from a disappointing Ofsted result for children’s services at Devon County Council, it has made bold decisions and implemented new ways of working to make significant improvements. The results so far have been positive and we are looking for a head of children’s social work, deputy director of children’s services to lead and inspire further change for the service. With a wholehearted commitment to the welfare of children and young people, the successful leader will provide operational governance to shape the development of the service, as well as implementing solid strategies and new working models. In a “challenging and impactful” opportunity, they will champion collaboration to ensure that the right level of skill, knowledge and expertise is in place, across all children’s services, commissioned services and partnerships, backed by the resources and support of the council’s single organisational approach.

‘An openness to change’

Interim head of children’s social work and child protection, Fiona Fitzpatrick, commented:

“Before I joined Devon, I had preconceptions that it might be old-fashioned. But across the council, partnerships and elected members, there is an openness to change, a real desire to improve and a motivation to get it right. People aren’t afraid to try new things or do them differently. As such, you’ll have the resources, budget control, autonomy and support you need to have a major impact on children and families.

Coming in to this role as one of the leaders in the system, you’ll have the opportunity to truly influence the service at both a strategic and operational level in order to secure the best outcomes. If you can translate vision into action; if you can listen, laugh and be decisive and flexible in your approach, this could be the perfect opportunity for you. You’ll experience the best of new ways of working while having an amazing quality of life, living in a beautiful part of the UK.”

Devon County Council is looking for someone who is in a similar leadership role in children’s social work to motivate the team and make positive improvements to the service. On top of a competitive salary, the council is offering a wide range of rewards and benefits. If this sounds like your kind of challenge, you can find out more about the opportunity and the journey the service is on at

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