Thursday, 10 June 2010

I moved on to the Children's Services Scrutiny Board meting with Eleanor Brazil and Mariana Pexton...

We were with the Board to look ahead and see how they could help us on the journey we face as we build a new Children's Services world here in Leeds against a backdrop of 'savage' budget cuts and political change and professional change. The session was really helpful because it is easy to forget about the things that are really important as we wrestle with the bureaucracy, the meetings, the papers, the plans, the policies, the frameworks, the dashboards, the progress checks, the reviews and how we structure the future. However, nothing we do exists in isolation, and to release the magic during our 15% of a child's time, we must also powerfully connect with the child's family and the community where the child lives. We all know that in localities, where it really matters, our schools are at the front line of what we are doing. They reach out into every community across the city, touching and shaping young lives and are making a real difference. We must continue to think about how we build the team around the school and connect that to the team around the child and the team around the family as we reinvent, re-imagine and renew children's services here in Leeds.

We must revisit the culture of children's services, refocus on leadership development, and we must all think team. I recognise of course that some colleagues feel that they are on the barricades; feeling beleaguered, disillusioned and worn down by the relentless and uncompromising pressure that never goes away. I also know some colleagues are sick of, and turned off by, our optimism, positivity and constant search for the outstanding, the exceptional and the brilliant. But, so much of what we do here in Leeds is world class: so what can't we achieve together if we aspire to excellence in everything we do; and build on, and learn from, what is working really well.

This meeting with Children's Services Scrutiny Board reminded me that we must continue to be flexible, creative and action focused, and we must cut through the bureaucracy to keep things as simple as possible while making the best possible use of increasingly limited resources. And when the going gets really tough we must simply remember why we are here...

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