Rotherham Council in line to be social work employer of the year

Published Wednesday, 4th October 2017
Rotherham Council in line to be social work employer of the year
Strategic Director Ian Thomas with social care staff

Rotherham is turning the tables on its past after being lined up for a prestigious employer of the year award.

Rotherham Council has been shortlisted for the Best Social Work Employer of the Year prize in the acclaimed Social Worker of the Year Awards 2017 as a result of their outstanding work with vulnerable children.

The Council has been singled out following its successful social work recruitment drive – which has led to more social workers than ever before wanting to come and work in Rotherham.

Council leaders will find out at the end of November if they have beaten off stiff competition to get the accolade.

Cllr Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council said: “This really couldn’t have come at a better time for us. Staff retention is higher than average which is great news and we still have all of our 22 newly qualified social workers with us who came in last year, which is a record for the Council. Nationally more than a quarter of new starters leave the profession within the first year, so this is a real achievement.

“And we have been told by Ofsted in recent monitoring visits that we are have a ‘positive organisational culture’.

“Three years ago this praise would have been unheard of here in Rotherham. This really is such a tremendous turnaround for us.”

Following both the Jay and Casey reports Rotherham Council prospects of attracting and retaining social workers was low.

However, following intensive work with many committed staff in Rotherham and the development of a compelling workforce offer, the picture could not be more different. Government appointed Commissioners have handed most powers back to the Council and regular monitoring visits by Ofsted have shown real changes are being made in children’s social care.

Since 2014 there has been change of leadership across the entire council, with children’s services the most changed. With this change has brought much ambition to make the Council not only better than before, but the best it can be – an authority which other councils want to bench mark against.

Part of this ambition has included a rethink about how children’s social services are delivered. New teams have been established, caseloads reduced, early help transformed, training stepped up and management oversight strengthened. In addition, social workers have played a leadership role in designing new quality service standards, so that children receive the best possible support.

This has played a significant part in how people view the Council, and rather than be put off by the past, social workers are now applying for vacancies in their droves at all levels.

This includes a bumper crop of 17 newly qualified social workers set to swell the Council ranks in the next few weeks, after more than 100 people applied for the much sought after places – the most applications the Council has had for such vacancies.

“This Council suffered as a result of how issues were handled in the past,” added Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s services at Rotherham Council. “However, following the appointment of Commissioners, supported by local elected members, green shoots of recovery have definitely started to emerge. And being short listed like this highlights the positive steps we are taking.”

The prestigious awards ceremony is the leading celebration of its kind in the social care sector, and recognises the achievements and successes of the profession’s most innovative and dedicated social workers.

James Rook, Managing Director of the award’s headline sponsor Sanctuary Social Care said: “At a time when services are under such intense pressure, this award seems most relevant as it recognises those employers who put their staff first and demonstrate excellence in leading, motivating and developing their workforce. All finalists have proved themselves to be outstanding employers, which is an achievement to be very proud of.”

Rotherham is competing against Central Bedfordshire Council, East Sussex County Council and Essex County Council for Employer of the Year category.

There has been a bumper year of entries for the awards this year with hundreds of entries from across the country.

Rotherham Council is one of 81 finalists across 16 categories and winners from each category will compete against each other to be named the “Overall Social Worker of the Year 2017.”

The awards were judged by leading influencers including the Chief Social Workers Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo and Maris Stratulis (England Manager, British Association of Social Workers).

For more information about the Social Worker of the Year Awards please see:

Go to the Social Work Awards website