Callum joined South Gloucestershire Council’s 0-25 Disability service earlier this year as a newly qualified. Shortly after he started, Ofsted published their inspection report of children’s services, in which the 0-25 service came under criticism. Why did this not put him off joining the council for his first job in social work? We spoke with him to find out.
My role is to work with young people aged 0-18 to help set up care packages for families and ensure children are safe. This involves pulling together different groups of professionals to provide services to help them manage both at home and at school. I’ve always wanted to work with children with disabilities, so after qualifying, having grown up locally, South Gloucestershire Council’s 0-25 team was an obvious first choice.
Although the Ofsted report had not been officially published at the time, during the recruitment process, managers were very open and honest with me about the team I’d be joining and the issues that Ofsted had identified during their inspection. At the same time, they talked to me about the vision for the service, and the additional support and management time that had been committed to ensuring that vision was delivered.
The mood was understandably quite sombre following the publication of the report. However, I think this was mostly disappointment at what Ofsted had said and reflected how much the team cared about their work. Over the past six months, we’ve pulled together as a team; there is a positive, open and friendly atmosphere and a real determination to deliver the best for vulnerable children.
Following the inspection our new service manager spent a great deal of time talking to families and social workers to understand what had gone wrong and how we could put these issues right.
Now, new processes are starting to bed in and we’ve agreed performance indicators so everyone is much clearer about what needs to be done. The transparency that management showed me during the recruitment process has continued, with the head of service and service manager regularly talking with us; providing updates, answering our questions and listening to and addressing concerns. We have weekly team meetings, so everyone knows what’s going on and feels part of decisions.
As a newly qualified I feel I’m trusted to take charge of my work, but at the same time am fully supported – both developmentally and emotionally – with regular group supervision. All of the newly qualifieds recently had a session with the head of service and the head of the consultant social worker team – it’s great for me to know that they are so open and approachable and that their door is genuinely always open if I need someone to go to for advice.
Looking back on my first six months, I can honestly say I’ve no regrets about my decision to choose South Glos. I feel like we are making a difference in improving the lives of children with disabilities and am proud of the part I’m hopefully playing in that.