National IRO Manager Partnership e-Magazine

The National IRO Manager Partnership has produced this free e-magazine to support the work of its members. It offers professional news; good practice highlights; reflections on topical policy matters and links to articles to support continuous professional development as a IRO.

West Midlands

News from the West Midlands Region.

The West Midlands region comprises the following authorities:
Stoke,Telford,Staffordshire,Walsall,Birmingham,Dudley,Wolverhamptopn, Sandwell, Solihull, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Coventry.

Contact details

Mary Eccleston, Chair West Midlands Region. Email: maryeccleston@warwickshire.gov.uk

Work plan and priorities

The West Midlands region has an established regional framework for the co-ordination and development of work in key areas including, Safeguarding, Child Sexual Exploitation , LADO network, IRO Managers and Principle Social worker networks.

The network is supported by the West Midlands Improvement and efficiency partnership and therefore has the support of all regional Directors who take on active sponsorship of the groups operating within the regional framework.

Learning and improvement

A number of conferences have been organised within the region that have focused on a specific theme. Most recently the Principle Social work network organised a conference on “The voice of the child” and the last IRO conference within the region focused on the development of practice that maintained a focus on the child. As a result of this conference a West Midlands pledge to looked after children was developed.
One of the issues that has exercised the IRO Managers group for some time has been the development of a specific pathway for the training and development of Independent Reviewing Officers. The group has worked with the University of Birmingham to agree the content of a post qualifying module of study specific to Independent Reviewing Officers and Independent Conference chairs. The module is currently running for the second time and feedback remains very positive.
The University of Birmingham Advanced Practice Module for Independent Reviewing Officers and Independent Case Conference Chairs.

This module was developed at the request of, and in close collaboration with, managers active in the West Midlands Regional IRO Managers’ Network. The module is rooted in the extant literature on the work of the IRO and thus challenge and the progression of cases in a timely manner feature prominently. The teaching is organised around the tasks of evaluating assessments and plans, chairing complex meetings, and follow up / progress monitoring. Assessing attachments, narrative ideas, attention to process issues, the user experience and strengths-based perspectives are integrated throughout, and candidates are also encouraged to consider the relevance of various leadership theories to their work roles.

The module is run over 6 days and those who successfully complete the module are awarded 20 academic credits at postgraduate level. Formal assessment is by way of an assignment (devised by the West Midlands Managers) and an observation of practice. Successful candidates are able to use this module within the University’s Postgraduate Leadership and Management Certificate / Diploma / MA programme if they wish to continue their studies. The module is delivered by two internal lecturers and a number of visiting lecturers: three IRO managers, a solicitor, an external researcher (who has researched parental experiences of the child protection process) and a person who was accommodated in the looked after system and experienced the case conference process as a carer.

The module is quality assured through the usual university processes and a Steering Group (comprising Panel Managers, visiting lecturers and University staff) that meets on a regular basis.

The module is run once a year during the summer term at the University’s Edgbaston campus although the University is able to run the module at other locations subject to demand.

Further details can be obtained from the module lead: Mark Chesterman. Email: m.chesterman@bham.ac.uk

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