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A recent report

8 September 2014

A recent report analysing Ofsted inspection data since 2008 to July 2014 caught my eye yesterday.  The report was comparing inspections outcomes with turnover of children’s services leadership and - no surprises – those authorities scoring the highest on a consistent basis, were those which had enjoyed the tenure of the same director since 2008. The four worst performing authorities had had 4 or more directors during that time.

If I were the scholarly type, I would be looking to compile a paper comparing the average tenure of a Chief Executive with a Director of Children’s Services.  As it stands, 22 out of 152 local authorities have had the same DCS since 2008, would some research into this area show (for those that need convincing) that of all the leadership roles in local government,  those in children’s services are the most vulnerable?

For anyone  following the media finger-pointing around the Rotherham scandal, like me,  it must have come as something of a refreshing change to  see the names of politicians and police officials lobbed around as well as those of the social care professionals who are more usually singled out for attention. Does this mark a change in thinking, where the challenge and responsibility of protecting children and young people has to be considered in a national / pan agency way and not just at a local level I wonder?  When the press start calling for locally elected officials to step down when their services fail I wonder how this will in turn affect the perceived accountability of directors of children’s services and indeed their Chief Executives.

Back to the report and as a recruiter of interim managers with leadership experience in social care, I was taken with another piece of data – that 13 authorities currently have interim or acting up arrangements  covering their DCS posts. There is growing evidence that poor Ofsted inspections can lead to knee jerk reappointment of directors with increasing difficulty in securing better options from the market.

 It has long been recognised that a seasoned interim DCS can offer stability and breathing space for stressed and failing services whilst a long term solution is found. given that the evidence points to stable leadership as the key to the best performance, for me the role of the interim leadership solution has never been more important in growing and developing sustainable high performing teams from within. 

Rachel Osborne, Consultant

Categories: Local Government


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