Improving Leadership for Children’s Services

I hope all readers of the County Times are enjoying a very peaceful and relaxing Christmas. There are of course many for whom Christmas is not only a time at which work continues much as normal but that if anything the pressures are greater.  We are hugely grateful to the work of the police, fire service,  NHS, other civilian services and the armed forces who continue to keep us safe during the Christmas season.  For others the run up to Christmas is the peak of their working year - it was good to visit the Royal Mail centres in Billingshurst and Horsham this week not only to thank the postmen and postwomen for their work over Christmas but also for their efforts on behalf of all parliamentary candidates to get our election addresses out across the constituency in the last few weeks!

For many, children are at the heart of Christmas - their sense of excitement and wonder improves the mood of even the most weary or jaded of adults.  It was probably ever thus - and Charles Dickens putting Bob Cratchit’s young family at the heart of the (finally happy outcome of the) “Christmas Carol” did much to emphasis the point in a period when we rediscovered and reinvented many Christmas traditions.

At Christmas, and throughout the year, there will of course be children locally who are being looked after by dedicated and professional West Sussex County Council staff.  They should all be receiving the security, care and love that children and young people need.

However the recent report into the leadership of Children’s’ Services was alas extremely painful to read.  

I am pleased that Paul Marshall,  the new Leader of West Sussex County Council, has been clear in recognising and accepting the Council’s past failures in the leadership of Childrens’ Services.  

The decision to form a Children’s Trust in response to the report and the reappointment of John Coughlan as Commissioner for West Sussex Children’s Services to lead this process over the next 12 months is welcome, as is the new role of East Sussex Chief Executive Beckie Shaw in assisting the Council.

New Year is a time for new beginnings.  I am absolutely certain that a new start and radical improvements must and will be at the heart of the leadership of West Sussex Childrens’ Services over the coming year. 


Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin visited the Billingshurst Royal Mail sorting office this week to thank everyone for their work over Christmas - and for getting out all the Parliamentary candidates’ election addresses in recent weeks.