New board established to drive improvement in children’s services


An independently-led board is bringing a “brilliant at the basics” approach to children’s social work practice in Wigan Borough. Established by Wigan Council last year, it will meet regularly to oversee areas of improvement and share best practice.

The Wigan Deal for Children and Young People Board (WDCYPB) has Steve Walker, Leeds City Council director, as its chairperson. Mr Walker will work alongside senior council figures and partners such as Greater Manchester Police and health services.

Wigan Council’s director of children’s services, Colette Dutton, said: “The board is here to challenge and scrutinise, but also to offer support to help make sure that children and families across the borough receive the best possible service from our social care teams.

“The past 12 months has posed challenges and like all local authorities, we’ve worked incredibly hard to develop and improve our services whilst managing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I feel reassured by the progress we’ve made already and know that the board will help keep everything on track so that we can achieve our ambition of delivering an ‘outstanding’ service.”

Mr Walker is director of strengthening families and protecting children at Leeds City Council. He will be joined on the board by Colette Dutton, chief executive Alison Mckenzie-Folan, deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt and other senior council officers.

An update report on the board’s progress so far was presented to the children and young people’s scrutiny committee this week. Elected members will receive regular updates on the four Ps areas of performance; permanence, partners, people and practice.

A list of objectives sits underneath each of these areas including making sure that staff have the time and space to build relationships with the families they are supporting, building a culture of continuous learning, checking that staff have manageable caseloads and that managers have the capacity to effectively support all staff.

Councillor Jenny Bullen, cabinet member for children and families, who is also a board member, said: “We want our staff to feel supported and confident so that they will be able to effectively help local children and families to realise their aspirations.

“Our ultimate vision is that we want all children in Wigan to be happy, healthy and safe; to feel listened to and to have the maximum opportunities to be ambitious.“If children or their families need help and support it should be at the right time, by the right person and in the right place for them so that they’ll be able to become confident, resilient, valued members of our communities in the future.”