I would like to thank you for expressing an interest in joining us in Lewisham. You may have some preconceptions about the borough based on our previous performance and the Ofsted inspection in 2019, or you may indeed have little knowledge of the borough. I chose to come to Lewisham after successfully leading services in Brighton and Hove for seven years as I had a strong desire to work in an inner London Borough. There is lots of need here but it is also a vibrant borough with a young and diverse population. It’s truly a place where clear leadership of Children’s Services can make a profound impact on the lives of children and young people and I’m looking for others to join me on this journey.
In recent years there has been some drift in Lewisham. Prior to my arrival some strong appointments had already been made and following my arrival in June 2020 I believe that there is an opportunity for Lewisham to shine.
We want to give children and young people the best start in life, where every child has access to an outstanding and inspiring education and is given the support they need to keep them safe, well and able to achieve their potential. Over the last year and going forward the key areas of improvement we have been focussed on have been:
- Introducing Signs of Safety as our social work practice model
- Stabilising our staffing, including our management structure and reducing our dependency on agency staffing
- Developing a new corporate parenting strategy
- Developing a new performance management framework and improved quality assurance
- Developing a new SEND strategy with a particular focus on pathways for those aged 19 and above
- Introducing a new Early Help and Prevention strategy that provides clearer pathways and support for families in need
- Developing a new domestic abuse strategy and a new child exploitation strategy
- Reviewing our youth service offer so that there is a much clearer focus on more targeted youth support
- Building on the success of our Youth Offending Service to consider developing a wider multi-disciplinary Adolescent Service
- Starting to look at a stronger youth participation and engagement approach, including the Young Mayors team
- Improving our arrangements for child placements including a reduction of the number of children in residential placements and the average cost of this
- Working with schools to address race inequality and in particular the poorer outcomes for children and young people with a Black Caribbean heritage
- Building on the success of our joint commissioning team with the CCG to look at greater opportunities for supporting families in a more integrated way
Clearly over the last year the Covid 19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the work we are doing, in particular with schools. The positives that have come out of this however has been much stronger relations with schools and also very good working relationships with health colleagues and in particular with Public Health. As we come out of the pandemic we will need leaders and managers who are creative and open to different ways of doing things, including learning from the practice we needed to put in place during the pandemic. But we also need leaders who are passionate about making a difference for our children and young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable. They also need to be able to analyse need and draw up plans and interventions which are evidence based and to engage positively with the communities that we work with.
Through the CYP leadership team, supported by the Mayor and Cabinet we are fundamentally reversing the previous decline in Children’s Services by being ambitious for our children, focussing relentlessly on improvement, developing a wider learning and reflective culture and being creative. We know what we are doing, where we are heading towards and how to get there. I’m looking for the right people to join me on this important endeavour.
Executive Director for Children and Young People