From strategy to reality
In The Leadership Imperative, published by Demos last year, Hannah Lownsbrough and I argued that:
"The danger for Every Child Matters…lies not in an outright rejection from the people being asked to deliver it, but in the day-today difficulties of making it work on the ground. Entrenched patterns of professional behaviour lead to scepticism and distrust of the capabilities of professionals from other backgrounds. The temptation to return to familiar habits in the face of major uncertainty can be powerful."
Returning to look at professionalism in local authorities on this project, it's interesting to see how the evidence is building about what really needs to happen if ECM is going to ‘implemented’.
I’ve been reading this research (pdf) by the DfES and BMRB, which found that not only was awareness of ECM high – 90% of local government workers in children’s services have heard of it – but so is support. 72% think that ECM will improve outcomes for children to a ‘great’ or ‘some’ extent, whilst a further 15% thought Every Child Matters would improve outcomes to a small extent.
So ECM has high levels of support among those that really matter – the people delivering it. But read any report, or talk to people working in authorities and they tell you that new forms of partnership working and integration are still in the early stages. And this is often attributed to the difficulties of routing round old ways of working and ingrained professional cultures.
It’s going to be really interesting to look at how councils are mediating these tensions, through helping professionals adjust their habits and identity, as they make the leap from strategy to reality.