I am pleased to confirm that Steve Walker has now formally taken over as Director of Children’s Services (DCS) at Kirklees Council.
Steve has over 25 years’ experience in children’s social care and joins us as part of the flourishing relationship we have developed with Leeds City Council.
Steve is also the DCS at Leeds and will hold the role across both authorities, co-ordinating our joint work and leading on the improvement of services for children, young people and families in Kirklees.
In addition, we are welcoming two other colleagues from Leeds as Sal Tariq (Deputy Director for Safeguarding, Specialist and Targeted Services) and Elaine McShane (Head of Children’s Social Work) have also taken up joint roles with Kirklees.
With existing staff we now have a strong leadership team as we continue to focus on developing our support for children. We are in the process of finalising our partnership with Leeds, who have been on a successful improvement journey of their own and are an approved ‘partner in practice’. In their most recent Ofsted inspection, they were judged as ‘good’ overall with ‘outstanding’ leadership, management and governance.
Steve spent 10 years as a social worker and front line manager before becoming a senior manager. He has also been a research fellow at Royal Holloway College, University of London, where he developed a range of materials to support social work practice. He was an inspector with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales and has been involved in developing and implementing policy to deliver better outcomes for children.
Sal and Elaine are also very experienced in leading and developing services and, as a result of the changes taking place and the added capacity at senior level, Merlin Joseph has stepped down from her role as our Improvement Director. I would like to thank Merlin for all her hard work. You will also be aware that Gill Ellis, who was our interim DCS from the start of this year, retired a couple of weeks ago.
Our partnership with Leeds will bring long-term benefits and it’s excellent news that the DfE have agreed to formalise the links we had already forged with our neighbours. Together, we are moving forward with pace and a clear focus.
Finally, I want to thank you all for your continued hard work in supporting children, young people and families. There is still a long road ahead of us, but our improvement journey would not be possible without your energy and commitment.