A former national charity chief appointed as Aberdeen’s head social worker has spoken for the first time about her battles to cut red tape at the head of a pioneering new £3million scheme.
Bernadette Oxley, the head of children’s social work at the city council, started in May, 2015 to bring the “reclaiming social work” model from England to Aberdeen.
The council is the first authority in Scotland to go for scheme which is aimed at reducing the number of children in care.
They aim to do this by moving from a traditional team system with social workers managed by a team manager to small units with a small number of staff working with a number of children and families.
The London Borough of Hackney developed the approach leading to reduction in the number of children subject to care orders in the area, as well as a budget saving of about £3million.
Mrs Oxley was the regional head of service for the North West and Cumbria at the NSPCC for three-and-a-half years.
Previously she was employed in senior management roles by the Care Quality Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, and the Department for Health.
And Mrs Oxley said the “radical” model trialed in the city was one other Scottish councils were looking to copy.
She said: “One thing that has been found is that children can’t be protected with red tape and ticking boxes.
“What protects children is having social workers go into families and work with them directly.”
But she added that the authority was coming from a “position of strength” comparing it to cut-hit councils in England.
She said: “We have some really good teams here and really good social workers.
“One of the key challenges I found when I started was staff motivation.
“But I think this system gives people a lot of pride in their work, to get them away from the desk and out working with families.
“I’ve really enjoyed it- I feel like it’s what I’ve trained for.”
Education and children’s services convener Angela Taylor said the approach showed the authority was at the “cutting edge” of social work in Scotland.
She added: “We have taken the model used down south and enhanced it specifically for the city.”