New chairman appointed at Northamptonshire Children’s Trust

Julian Wooster has been appointed as the new chairman of the Northamptonshire Children's Trust.Julian Wooster has been appointed as the new chairman of the Northamptonshire Children's Trust.
Julian Wooster has been appointed as the new chairman of the Northamptonshire Children's Trust.
A new chairman of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust has been appointed – shortly after an Ofsted report found that services in the area were ‘improving’ but from a ‘low base’.

Julian Wooster has been appointed by the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, to be the new chairman of the Trust, which officially took over handling of children’s services as of November 1.

Mr Wooster fills in a role that was departed by Ian Curryer, who resigned in September after receiving heavy criticism from the county council’s cabinet. Mr Curryer stepped down due to links with the financial collapse of the Nottingham City Council energy firm Robin Hood Energy.

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Since then Clare Chamberlain has been filling in on an interim basis, and she will remain a non-executive director for the Trust.

Mr Wooster joins as chairman following a five-year spell as director of children’s services at Somerset County Council. He took over at an authority where children’s services had been rated inadequate during a January 2015 inspection, and managed to turn this into a ‘requires improvement’ judgement in November 2017.

The latest focused visit by Ofsted to Somerset, in January 2019, found that there had been further improvement and that the number of permanent team managers and social workers had increased, and that caseloads had been reduced to manageable levels. Given that these are two issues currently deemed a problem in Northamptonshire, it is no doubt hoped he will be able to replicate that success at the new Trust.

Councillor Fiona Baker, the county council’s cabinet member for children, said: “We welcome Julian to the new Children’s Trust. He will be joining us at a time of exciting change as we continue to work to transform and improve children’s services in Northamptonshire.

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“Julian’s experience will be invaluable in developing the Trust to support our aspiration to deliver outstanding social care services for all children and young people in Northamptonshire with the aim of measurably improving the lives of children and their families in the county.”

Mr Wooster, who earned £137,970 per year while at Somerset County Council, joins the Trust shortly after Colin Foster has taken the reins as the new chief executive. It will no doubt be hoped the two can now offer some stability to a new Trust that has already rattled through a number of chairs and chief executives.

And it also comes shortly after Ofsted found that children’s services in the country, which were rated ‘inadequate’ in July 2019, are now showing signs of improvement, albeit from a ‘low base’.As well as his experience at Somerset, Mr Wooster has also spent time as director of children’s services in Portsmouth, having spent eight years as deputy director in Hillingdon and Wandsworth.

Upon taking the role at the Trust, Mr Wooster said: “I am passionate about services for children, young people and their families. I know that good children’s social work is transformative to the lives of the families we work with.

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“This is an exciting time for Northamptonshire. I’m delighted to bring to the Trust substantial senior management experience of children’s services to support the work of Colin and his team, ensuring that social care staff have the right environment to deliver excellent practice.”

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