Welcome and thank you for your interest. This site provides information on the role of Strategic Director Children’s Services
What it is like working in Lambeth
I came to Lambeth in May 2016, initially for a period of six months but quickly connected with both the people and the place and have stayed for a very much longer period of time than I ever anticipated.
The reasons for staying the course are fairly straightforward. Firstly there was a clear and challenging task of leading improvement following Ofsted’s ‘inadequate’ judgement in May 2015. Secondly, and crucially, the passion and determination of colleagues inside and outside the Council to make root and branch improvements was palpable. Finally, the vibrancy and buzz of Lambeth, together with the great resources of the borough’s diverse communities really do make it a place like no other. All of that created an excellent platform for making a discernible difference whilst providing unique opportunities for masses of professional learning about what really matters when it comes to improvement.
The journey of improvement in children’s social care has inevitably been tough and difficult at times, with inevitable ups and downs. Things were pretty chaotic and confused in 2016 but over time and, with much graft by everyone, things stabilised. Our Children at the Heart of Practice framework was a key lever for improvement. Drawing on a relationship based and systemic approach to practice, the framework continues to evolve and provides a shared narrative about the whats, how’s and whys of strong social work practice.
Partnerships in Lambeth are strong and provide the bedrock for all we do. The Lambeth Schools Partnership, for example, brings together almost all our schools and the local authority to focus on key priorities, including teacher recruitment, exclusions and the educational achievement of Black Caribbean children. Educational outcomes for many are good or better but we know that too many children are left behind.
Work with health (CCG and providers) is strong, as evidenced in the number of joint commissioning posts, including that of joint Director of Commissioning and Community Safety post. These teams have been critical in developing new approaches to early years through changing the children’s centre ‘offer’, and working with the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) in the Big Lottery ten year funded LEAP (Lambeth Early Years Programme).
Since the re-inspection in 2018, we have been freed up to be more innovative and outward facing. This is exemplified in our success in securing What Works Centre funding for the social worker in schools pilot. It is also a feature of our evolving and increasingly effective early help approach with its strong community focus and whole system approach to helping families.
Community safety functions moved earlier this year to children’s services as part of a Council restructure, opening up new opportunities for better joint working with those most at risk. Our Youth Offending Service has also had a tough journey of improvement, having also been judged inadequate in 2016. It is now really flourishing as evidenced by a successful joint inspection earlier this year. Changes there have helped give greater impetus to working differently in tackling serious violence. Lambeth’s public health approach is pioneering whole system change; whilst this is at a relatively early stage and this is going necessarily going to be a very long term strategy, many key ingredients are now in place.
Leaving Lambeth will be a personal wrench for me but I know that now is the time to move on and hand the DCS ‘baton’ to someone else. I think that it is about the best DCS job around (though I am of course very biased). There is much to do and some great people with whom to work to help every child and young person thrive and achieve the best.
Strategic Director of Children’s Services