I’ve been doing a bit of reading for a new project that we are starting with the IDeA, looking at how efforts in local authorities to re-orient services around the needs of users are disrupting professional boundaries, roles and status, and am struck by the suggestion that John Craig makes in the recent Demos collection on Professionalism that we may be witnessing the birth of local professionalism.He writes:
"Across children’s services, local responsibilities for workforce strategy and approaches to collaboration are enabling considerable national variation. As this grows the need for deep local reflection about what it means to be a teacher or social worker in Birmingham or in Knowsley"
Without getting too technical, this reminded me of the argument made by Jake Chapman that:
"in most cases individuals would become sufficiently open to a new way of thinking only when they became convinced that their previous approach had not, and would not, succeed".
So what? Well, it makes me wonder whether the strength of professional identity in children’s services adds weight to the idea that targets should be set locally rather than nationally.
Often we hear that targets are the problem, and localism is the answer. But perhaps what this all means is that the real strength of local target setting is that professionals (and young people) can be part of the process, rather than have it done to them. Then targets seem less like a series of arbitrary measures imposed from a distance, and are more like the are part of a process of adjusting to a new way of working that is being driven by - rather than in spite of - professionals in an area.
ps – we are on the look out for case studies for this project, so drop me an email if you are either dealing with issues like this, or know someone who is….
pps - 'the birth' of local professionalism, or have we only just noticed it?!