Agenda item

Children and Families Workforce Recruitment and Retention in Leeds

To receive a report from the Director of Children and Families surrounding Children and Families workforce recruitment and retention in Leeds.


At the request of the Board, the Director of Children and Families submitted a report that set out the challenges involved with the recruitment and retention of the Children and Families workforce in Leeds and the efforts made by the directorate to address these challenges.


The following were in attendance for this item:


·  Councillor Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships

·  Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education

·  Councillor Mary Harland, Executive Member for Communities.

·  Julie Longworth, Director of Children and Families

·  Ruth Terry, Chief Officer for Social Work

·  Tim Pouncey, Chief Officer Resources and Strategy

·  Val Waite, Chief Officer Learning Inclusion

·  Erica Hiorns, Leadership and Management Lead


The Chair invited the Executive Members and the Director of Children and Families to provide a brief introduction to the report and in doing so, the Board was informed of the scale of the challenges facing the social care workforce nationally, particularly with employers struggling to recruit to posts.  However, reference was also made to the recognition and role that Leeds plays in national improvements in the sector following senior appointments onto the Local Government Association National Board for Children and Young People and the Children’s Social Care National Implementation Board, which is tasked with delivering the recommendations of the Care Review.


Reference was also made to challenges with the recruitment and retention of school staff, with the National Education Union (NEU) survey in 2021 showing that nearly half of all teachers and leaders surveyed did not think they would still be working in schools in 5 years’ time.  It was noted that the common reasons cited related to workload pressures, lack of government trust and the reduced status of the profession.  The NEU Sixth Form Colleges Strike, that was taking place on the same day as the Scrutiny Board’s meeting, had also been acknowledged.


The following areas were also discussed during the Board’s consideration of the report:


Ø  Promoting trade union engagement with all local schools.

Ø  Concerns surrounding the shortfall in DfE recruitment targets to secondary initial teacher training courses.

Ø  The innovative approaches being undertaken by local schools in addressing recruitment challenges, which includes developing close relationships with local universities and maintaining close links with their Sixth Form pupils and offering them a paid year long internship to support them into employment.

Ø  Efforts in reducing reliance on expensive Agency Social Workers, including the Memorandum of Co-operation with other Directors of Children Services from across the region to commit to a maximum hourly rate of pay (£35) for Agency Social Workers that will be fully implemented by 1 April 2023, having begun in September 2022 for new agency assignments.

Ø  The importance of raising the profile and acknowledging the value of both teaching and social care professions in order to attract and also retain an effective workforce moving forward.

Ø  The value of adopting a 'Grow Your Own’ ethos and exploring further options to develop the talent pipeline for the future in terms recognising and developing the talent already within the Leeds City Council workforce alongside encouraging new routes of access into the directorate and providing opportunities for career progression.

Ø  The importance of maximising opportunities to increase diversity at every level.

Ø  The work being undertaken to support the health and wellbeing of social care staff, as well as highlighting the support provided to school staff through teacher unions and the council’s school improvement team.  Importance was also placed on the role of Ofsted in ensuring that schools are prioritising the wellbeing of staff.



(a)  That the contents of the report be noted

(b)  That the Scrutiny Board maintains a watching brief of progress against the broader strategy work being undertaken by the Children and Families directorate around the recruitment and retention of the workforce.


Supporting documents: