Alan Wood to chair £20m social care evidence centre

By Tristan Donovan

| 05 July 2018

Sir Alan Wood, architect of recent reforms to local safeguarding arrangements in England, has been appointed the founding chair of the What Works Centre for Children's Social Care.

Sir Alan Wood says he is "delighted" to be appointed chair of the What Works Centre for Children's Social Care

Wood, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) in 2014/15, will be instrumental in the creation of the What Works Centre, which aims to improve the use of evidence-based practice in children's social care.

"I am delighted to be joining an initiative which takes such a refreshing approach to partnership working," said Wood. "The What Works Centre will play a crucial role in supporting the leaders of children's services to create the conditions for more evidence-informed practice.

"It must address the many gaps in the evidence base that we know to exist, improve the accessibility and relevance of evidence, and support practitioners to deliver effective arrangements based on what works and what does not in a variety of circumstances, with a variety of young people and families."

Wood will be working alongside the three other members of the centre's founding board: chief social worker Isabelle Trowler; Bradford Council chief executive Kersten England; and Sally Hodges, the director of children's services for Solihull Council.

The What Works Centre is backed by £20m of government funding and is being set up by innovation charity Nesta and Cardiff University. The centre's funding is expected to last until March 2020.

In May, it announced plans to recruit "pioneer councils" to develop social care best practice.

Wood's appointment is the latest high-profile role in his 40-year career in children's services. After qualifying as a history teacher in the 1980s he went on to spend 10 years as director of children's services in the London Borough of Hackney.

During his time at Hackney he introduced the influential Reclaiming Social Work model of children's social work before retiring at the end of 2015.

The following year, he led a Department for Education review of local safeguarding children boards and concluded that they should be scrapped and replaced with a new system. Earlier this week, the government announced latest details on implementing the reforms.

Wood has also chaired a major DfE review of the role local authorities play in early years, special educational needs and school improvement.

Last year, he became the first chair of the Residential Care Leadership Board and was made a member of the Youth Justice Board.

He was knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours.

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