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People might think Buckinghamshire is a leafy shire full of well-off families but this is not the whole story. Stretching from the outskirts of London to the Midlands, Buckinghamshire is a diverse county with parts meeting thresholds for EU grants. Of course, neglect and abuse is blind to class, ethnicity and wealth; here social workers find themselves working with families from all walks of life. 



Ofsted last year concluded Buckinghamshire’s Children’s Services were ‘inadequate’ and significant investment has been made to turn the service around. We speak with Carol Douch, Service Director of Children’s Social Care, to find out more. 

1. Where are you on your improvement journey in ‘getting to good’? 


We are moving in the right direction and can see green shoots of improvement thanks to the commitment of our staff. Our improvement plan enables social workers to focus on the parts of the job they became a social worker for - direct work with children and families. We have invested in more permanent staff, better technology, improved partnerships and new quality assurance processes. We have recruited a permanent leadership team with clear focus on doing the right thing at the right time for children. 

2. How are your new systems making a difference to your staff and service users?


To improve the quality and timeliness of our intervention at the start of the child’s journey through the system, we have developed a single point of contact for co-ordinated early help and social care. With partners, we have further developed our Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub to enhance joint decision making, and have a new Swan unit focussing on CSE. Further down the child’s journey there are small units of up to four social workers; using a systemic approach, with a focus on managing risk, building relationships and with weekly reflective group supervision. We seek innovative ways to reduce the administrative burden on social workers.

3. Part of your recruitment strategy welcomes job applications from those within and beyond Bucks. Tell us more about this?


By successfully growing our own social workers and recruiting both in the UK and internationally, we are building permanent and stable teams, reducing the need for agency staff. We encourage qualified social workers both from the local area and beyond, including Northern Ireland and Romania. This relieves some pressure on our staff and reduces their caseload. We have also introduced an £8k relocation package and a comprehensive induction.

4. You’ve set up a Social Work Academy to help improve practice with vulnerable children. Tell us more about this?


It’s a really exciting part of our investment, ensuring staff continue professional development. Earlier this year we partnered with Bucks New University and launched ‘Bucks Social Work Academy’. The academy runs masterclasses and pop up events, with our AYSE and Practice Educators programmes delivered through this partnership. The training responds to the needs of our social workers, upskilling them and supporting in applying theory to practice. Academia remains in touch with frontline practice and students hear what a great place Bucks is.
 

5. What support and professional development opportunities do you offer your social work staff? 


Developing our staff is a big priority - social workers are on a clear, structured career pathway from day one. Supervision is prioritised to ensure high standards and critical reflection on practice, managing risk and fostering an inquisitive approach in a supportive, safe environment. We believe this is central to the development of high standards and child centred practice. 

Apply today


Visit buckscc.gov.uk/jobs to find out more and to apply via a quick and simple portal. For an informal chat about any of the roles call the Resourcing Team on 01296 382233.

What can you expect if you join the team?

Management of no more than 17-25 cases (dependent on service area) 
A supportive, close knit unit with regular supervision
Generous Golden Hello  -£2,125 - £5,125
Retention Bonus - £2,250 - £8,250 (after one year)
Help with relocation costs up to £8,000
Paid 3 month sabbatical after 3 years’ service
Competitive salary for experienced social workers (£31,801 -£40,349) 
Free parking and £600 annual car allowance 
25 days annual leave, rising to 32 
Membership of the Local Government pension scheme
Range of local staff discounts 

Interested in reading about other local authorities?

Each issue of our quarterly magazine, Sanctuary Social Work News, includes a double-page spread on a specific Council. 

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