Managers spend the week with front-line social care and education staff

Children and families who are involved with Oxfordshire County Council’s social care and education teams and schools have been taking the chance to share their experiences with senior managers from the council, police and NHS.

A “practice week” is being held during which the Director of Children’s Services Lucy Butler and senior staff from the county council, Thames Valley Police, Oxford Health, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board have been out and about with children’s social care and education workers of all descriptions, learning more about their day to day work on the frontline and the challenges they face.

They have also been speaking to children in care and their families to learn first-hand how they feel about how things operate and seek views on what could be improved.

Lucy has been busy visiting social care staff in Abingdon, Fitzharrys School in the town and visiting a child who has an electronic medical device implanted to do the work of damaged parts of the inner ear and provide sound signals to the brain. She was joined on her trip to Fitzharrys by Service Director at Oxford Health, Emma Leaver.

Lucy said: “Like the rest of the UK the numbers of children in care in Oxfordshire have risen dramatically during the course of this decade. In such circumstances it would be very easy for those in senior positions to be less in touch with what happens on a day to day basis in the lives of our social workers, education workers and the children in our care.

“That’s why it’s so important for us to set aside time away from the meetings that senior managers devote so much time to attending. Our practice week is a breath of fresh air for us, we learn so much and it really does influence our thoughts and decision making.

“The county council’s over-arching aim is to give every child a good start in life and the experience of this week will help do that. We work through social care and our responsibilities in the world of education to deliver that. I know that colleagues from the NHS and Thames Valley Police who have been joining us on the front-line share that aim.”

Joining Lucy on the front line this week have been Councillor Steve Harrod, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services whose visits included the council’s Locality and Community Support Service at Knights Court in Cowley. This is a team that works to identify emerging needs in children and families and ensure that families receive the right services in a timely way to prevent the need for statutory services.

Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services at Oxfordshire County Council Councillor met staff Lord Williams School in Thame, and the council’s School Transport Eligibility Team

Chief Inspector Emma Garside from Thames Valley Police; Richard Simpson, Chairman of the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board; from Oxfordshire County Council Hannah Farncombe, Deputy Director for Children’s Social Care, Lara Patel Deputy Director for Safeguarding, David Clarke, Deputy Director for Education and Amy Warner from the council’s HR team all undertook visits as did Sula Wilshire, Director of Quality at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Hannah Farncombe visited the north of the county – including Samuelson House in Banbury where children’s social care teams for the north of the county are based. One of David Clarke’s destinations was Fitzwaryn School in Wantage.

Richard Simpson visited the Ormerod Resource Base in Woodstock and East Street Children’s Centre in Banbury while Lara Patel’s visits included Oxford Spires School, John Watson Upper School in Wheatley and Wheatley Park Secondary School.