Our Children’s Services work to protect children and young people in Gloucestershire. We aim to work with families to make sure children are in a safe environment which allows them to thrive and reach their full potential.
We want our practice to be led by better understanding of the needs and experiences of children, young people l and their families. The academy works closely with our Participation Team and the young people who work with us as Ambassadors; ensuring our learning and development opportunities are focused on what‘s important for children – including direct work, assessment and relationship building.
The employment of Ambassadors has proved really successful and was noted as strength by Ofsted. Ambassadors help us to keep young people and children focused; they challenge us, work with us and often identify areas of our work that can be neglected. They are creative, social media savvy and help us communicate effectively with children and young people. They have impacted on our attitudes, understanding and awareness of the issues that are important to them.
Chris Spencer, Director of Children's Services
I’ve been here since March 2018, having previously been director of Children’s Services at Harrow and Hillingdon councils in London for over 12 years as well as holding a number of interim roles supporting local authorities. Before that I worked as a teacher and an educational psychologist before switching to social work.
The job with Gloucestershire County Council was one that really appealed to me, as I have lived in Cheltenham since 1977 and I have deep roots in the area. I was also attracted to the challenge that this role presented – a large authority, in intervention and working to improve. At this stage in my career I felt it was an exciting opportunity and a big challenge, but one I’ve embraced and look forward to over the coming months.
We are making improvements working closely with the Department for Education and our partners at Essex County Council, and the most recent monitoring report from Ofsted was more positive. However, we know there is still a long way to go in order to reach our aims of being a centre of excellence for children’s services.
To help us do that, we’re looking for motivated, ambitious and skilled social workers to join us on our improvement journey.
Andy Dempsey - Director of Partnerships & Strategy
I have worked at director level since 2004, mainly in the North West, having responsibility for wide range services, including neighbourhood development, community safety, drug and alcohol treatment, youth services, and youth offending services. In 2011, I took on the role of Director of Children’s Services in St Helens in Merseyside and led them through two inspections.
My journey to Gloucestershire came via the South West Association of Directors of Children’s Services, and meeting the new Director of Children’s Services for Gloucestershire, Chris Spencer. Chris is committed to an expansive vision for children’s services and building something that has lasting impact beyond how we may be judged by Ofsted. Much of my work over the past 15 years has been in building and sustaining partnerships and strategic relationships, and I bring that experience to Gloucestershire Children’s Services to realise Chris’ vision.