Children's Services Improvement Update

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Children's Services Improvement Update 

30 January 2019

DfE confirm appointment of Improvement Advisor

We are delighted that the Department for Education has confirmed that they have appointed Stuart Smith as the advisor for our improvement arrangements for Children’s Services. Stuart will begin his appointment on 4 February 2019 and will be the Independent Chair of the Council’s Partnership Improvement Board. This is an important appointment as it will help drive our improvement journey at pace and bring added scrutiny to the plans we are putting in place.

Stuart was formerly the Director of Children’s Services in Calderdale, and also currently chairs the Improvement Board for Wakefield Council.  We welcome him to Bradford.  

Improvement plan

Thanks to everyone who has helped contribute to our improvement plan. Once the improvement plan has been finalised, we will publish it on the Council's Improvement web page.

This plan will be our road map for delivering the improvement in our services we need to get to “good” or better. We want our partners to work with us to deliver it.  In order for us to make the improvements we need, we all need to work together with a clear vision and an agreed set of goals. We have taken on board feedback from our many stakeholders, including our staff and we now need to include more input from our children and young people. We hope to develop a child friendly version of the plan.

Staff changes

We currently have no vacancies for social workers which is a very positive achievement. All but four of the recently recruited social workers are now in post, and the remaining four will be in post by the end of February. We will be providing induction support for all newly qualified social workers with support from Bradford college. However, we know that due to the rapidly increasing workload and the higher volume of new work coming in, we are going to need more front line social work capacity. We are always keen to hear from experienced social workers who want to work in Bradford. 

We have set up a governance and programme management framework to drive the improvement journey. We have appointed Cath Knowles who is an experienced senior manager who has successfully supported other authorities in intervention. Cath will be our improvement lead and has now joined the team as of Monday 21 January.

We are building capacity with two new Head of Service posts: one for the front door and MASH, and one for quality assurance and safeguarding. We are also recruiting additional programme support, team managers and front line social workers. 

All these staff join us at an important time in our improvement journey we welcome them to Bradford. 

Feedback: You Said – We Did

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We have had some great feedback from our staff through staff engagement sessions, our suggestion boxes, meetings with myself and others and email. This feedback is hugely important in making sure that we make changes that make sense to staff.

A staff reference group is being put in place to listen to and act on the views of the staff team.

We also welcome the views of our partners and stakeholders on how we can make changes or of positive initiatives that are happening. These can be sent to

Improving service delivery

We are introducing a number of changes to help us improve our performance management. We have:

  • Enhanced staff development with Lunch and Learn sessions and a first line managers programme running through Bradford’s Teaching Partnership with Bradford University and College.
  • Set up a new legal gateway online tracker to help us streamline the legal processes for looked after children.
  • Improved performance and data reports developed by officers in the Office of the Chief Executive.
  • Enhanced Quality Assurance through a team of experienced auditors delivering audit and coaching.
  • Established a members’ support and challenge group.

All these changes are steps to help us manage our improvement journey.