Children’s Workforce Development Council

The challenge

The Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) was charged with bringing together different professions – police, teachers, health and social workers – with completely different working styles, cultures and approaches to collaborate to provide a single, cohesive package of support for vulnerable children across the country. Almost all of the 3 million people in England working with children had the potential to improve the way they worked together to assess the needs of vulnerable children and provide the best possible support. By working more effectively to combine their professional expertise, knowledge and skills, there is a much better chance of improving, and in some cases saving, the lives of children.

The scale of the challenge was immense. It was clear that many local areas were at a very early stage of development – lacking buy-in to the concept of integrated working. Change was going to have to encompass changes to people’s values, behaviours, ways of working, roles and skills, as well as creating a real focus on the end result for children and young people.

The client needed a means of understanding what was currently working well, what wasn’t, and the kind of national support required – as well as a way of kick starting and sustaining improvement locally.

The result

  • Ignite developed and embedded a highly engaging and flexible self-assessment and improvement ‘One Children’s Workforce’ tool. Ignite secured effective working relationships with a wide range of stakeholders – from the leaders of national organisations to individuals in each local authority area who ultimately would use and champion the self-assessment in every Children’s Trust in the country
  • The ‘One Children’s Workforce’ tool enabled a single approach to measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of integrated working in every local authority in the country
  • We supported the development of a clear national picture of how well different professions were working together and what could be done to improve
  • Every local authority area developed an action plan aimed at developing and embedding world class integrated working in a way that has an impact on the lives of vulnerable children
  • Ultimately, what emerged was a country much better equipped to provide the necessary support that children need and deserve.

What made it successful

  • Relentless focus on the ultimate outcome – keeping the concept of saving the lives of vulnerable children and young people at the heart of everything. This focus helped to make the tool relevant and compelling, and sustained the support of stakeholders, users and their sponsors
  • Early engagement with a wide range of stakeholders – through a series of highly engaging workshops, focus groups and interviews – secured the working relationships necessary to sustain the programme
  • Co-creation enabled us to gain a deep and genuine understanding of the issues, complexity and nuance of working with vulnerable children. We reflected this understanding in the multiagency online assessment tool which was rolled out nationally – improving integrated working and driving workforce reform nationwide
  • Insight was used as the stimulus to open up fresh thinking and innovation. People were encouraged to leave behind their usual professional assumptions and beliefs and to look at integrated and collaborative working elsewhere – a film crew, a royal navy vessel, even an ant colony – to stimulate creative ideas that could be transferred to their own environment.

The way Ignite combined vision, creativity and engagement with a relentless and rigorous approach to development was jaw dropping. The end result was outstanding

Anne Houlihan

Director, CWDC