The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care, which works in conjunction with new regulatory body Social Work England, has just announced that it has appointed Sir Alan Wood as its Founding Chair. Wood was former President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.

Wood will oversee the development of the Centre through to its independence, which should take place before 2020. The newsletter explains that Sir Alan has over 40 years’ experience in children’s social care at local and national level, and that the process for getting the role included being interviewed by a panel of children and young people.

The newsletter also announces three other founding members:

  • Kersten England, Chief Executive, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and Nesta Trustee
  • Sally Hodges, Director of Children’s Services and Skills, Solihull Metropolitan District Council
  • Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for England (Children & Families), Department for Education

As well as producing a press release, the centre also published a report which looks at stakeholders’ views, and what they hope social work moving forward will look like in practice.


The key messages from the report are added below:

  • Work with the sector, rather than ‘do to’
  • Keep children, young people and families at the heart
  • Have a strong, realistic focus on implementation and improving practice, allowing for local context and nuance
  • Explore what works to create the conditions for good social work
  • Help to foster a culture of learning
  • Be aware of the ‘joins’ with other agencies
  • Learn from others, and do not duplicate
  • Offer challenge, including to Government.

There is also a slideshow of young people’s views around social care and what skills they would like social workers to have.


The centre will now be focusing on working with selected partner sites, scheduling further meetings with its current advisory groups, and continuing on with its  programme of visits and meetings.