Skip to content

Update for colleagues from Jo Olsson – 12th August

As we move into the next phase of coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to give colleagues a clear overview of the current situation and our plan moving forward. The following is the latest update from Jo Olsson, Devon County Council’s Chief Officer for Children’s Services and Chair of the Devon SCP Executive Group. 

Dear colleagues,

It’s been a little while.

We’ve been working as a partnership on The Children’s Services Reset, preparing for children’s return to school and setting out our plans for the next phase of coronavirus (COVID-19). The reset will be published here by the end of August.

Ofsted colleagues have resumed their inspection programme, which has been adjusted to factor in coronavirus (COVID-19). We have been notified that we can expect a Monitoring Visit in mid to late September. The focus for the visit will be on Care Leavers, their experience during coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as the impact for Care Leavers of the actions we have taken in response to ILACS 2020 (Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services). Inspectors will look at sufficiency, leadership, pace and quality assurance through the prism of our response to Care Leavers. Steve Lowe and Nicola Bennet are the assigned inspectors; they led the ILACS 2020 so know us well. As always, inspectors can elect to inspect other aspects of our work if they wish to; our preparations address all eight points in our Improvement Plan.

We’ve got a good story to tell about improvement since ILACS 2020 and about our response to coronavirus (COVID-19), so let’s make sure we tell it well!

Meanwhile, our Improvement Partnership is up and running. A third meeting, to be chaired by former Leeds Director of Children’s Services Nigel Richardson, is scheduled for next week. Elsewhere, our Commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, is into the final phase of her work; this phase is principally focused on the experiences of frontline staff and partners. Eleanor recently fed back – to the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members, the Chief Executive and myself – her sense of the three emerging priorities for improvement:

  • Next steps for Reset, from strong strategic intent to delivery
  • Transformation of Locality Director role (which is key to Reset)
  • Performance grip

These priorities could change of course, but I’ve been very encouraged by the fact that, via technology, Eleanor has been able to join or observe a huge range of conversations as well as review all the key documents. She has recognised the many strengths that she has observed in Devon. Eleanor will complete her work in September, with a report on Devon for the Minister in the Department for Education.

That’s it from me. I hope everyone gets a very well-deserved break over the summer, and we are all fit and raring to go when schools return in September. My thanks, as always, for the work that is carried out every day by professionals from all agencies in Devon, quietly getting on with the job of improving the lives of children and families in Devon.

With very best wishes,
Jo Olsson
Chief Officer for Children’s Services (Devon County Council)
Chair of the Devon SCP Executive Group