What our directors say about The Academy

Working to enable the transformation of children services are:

  • Rachael Wardell, Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning
  • Tina Benjamin, Director for Corporate Parenting
  • Patricia Denney, Director for children's Quality Assurance

Please see below for their vision for transforming children's social work.

Rachael Wardell, Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning

In Surrey, we want children to really be able to be rooted in their families, in their schools, in theirRachael Wardell communities. This means supporting families so that children can live with them whenever that's safely possible, and where that's not possible, holding Surrey's children close to home – in Surrey foster care or residential care if we possibly can and looking further afield only when that's in the best interests of the child.

What this means for our practice is that we are child and family-centred; we look to build family resilience through multi-professional support, at the same time as being assured children are safe. We understand that achieving this means prioritising relationships, so that families can build stable, trusting relationships with the social workers and other professionals in their lives. That stability and trust become the foundation from which we provide both the high support and high challenge that helps children and families thrive.

From early support and prevention, through our family resilience, and safeguarding adolescents work, to our looked after children and care leaving services and our support for foster care, special guardianship and adoption we are united in our commitment to enable every child to achieve their full potential.

Our Academy supports us in these ambitions by making available a huge range of professional training and development opportunities across all domains of our work. We know that by supporting staff to achieve and progress, we get better at helping children and families too.

Tina Benjamin, Director for Corporate Parenting

In our corporate parenting teams, we understand that not all young people are the same, but they all deserve outstanding services. We value the importance of relationships both with Children, Young People and their families and with all those in the team supporting them. Our young people have told us that their social workers should be kind, dependable, honest and open, and so that's what we're striving to be.

We're looking for professionals who understand our young people. That means giving them an opportunity to be heard and listening to what they say. If you will never give up on our young people but will push them to be themselves and achieve their potential, then we want to hear from you.

Patricia Denney, Director for Children's Quality Assurance

In Surrey, we believe that we are all responsible for knowing and understanding the quality and impact of our practice. Leaders, managers and staff at all levels must understand a child's experience of our services so that we challenge practice and improve all the time. That's why we are constantly striving to know ourselves better, what's working and what we need to change to make these improvements.

In Surrey the Quality Assurance staff take an approach that is different. As well as spotting and harnessing good practice and identifying areas of challenge, we are also part of finding the right solution with our frontline colleagues.

We listen closely to the views and advice of our partners and Ofsted as part of evaluating our services. In addition to this we believe our own self-assessment is also important. Ultimately, our journey of improvement is about how well we know ourselves, as we work together to put children, young people and their families at the heart of everything we do.

Subscribe to our newsletters for latest news and events.