Assistant Director: Social Work

Reports the Executive Director of Children’s Services

Job Purpose

To provide leadership and strategic direction to all directly delivered children’s social work services in delivering outstanding services for children, young people and families.

Be a member of the department's Senior Management Team with a shared responsibility for the overall management of the department and a member of the County Management Team with a shared responsibility to lead and support corporate priorities.

To be an advocate for children and young people in all aspects of the work

Principal Accountabilities

Corporate Leadership

Be a member of Children’s Services Management Team sharing in the delivery of statutory responsibilities and delivering key department and county council objectives and performance targets.

Works closely with Members providing advice and information on improving outcomes for children and young people, to support effective strategy and decision making to meet the best interests of children and young people in Norfolk.

Thinks ambitiously and innovatively for the long term improvement in outcomes for Norfolk’s children.

Strategic Management

Lead the strategic development of Social Work services to ensure they are well led and provide a sound framework for managing risk.

Work closely with relevant internal colleagues and external partners, under the auspices of the NSCB, to create a strategic framework and practical service delivery model that is unified, has coherent pathways, is less bureaucratic and reduces the transfer of cases.

Operational and Programme Leadership

Lead Children’s Social Work services to provide quality, cost effective services which achieve the strategy aims and meet the needs of children in Norfolk for:

  • Adoption, Fostering and Residential Care services
  • Locality Assessment, Family Intervention and Support, Safeguarding Contact and Home Based Care Teams
  • Looked After Children Commissioning Team
  • MASH

Ensure appropriate people management practices are in place for the recruitment, management, coaching, development and accountability for performance of staff, and with due regard to Health and Safety.

Head of Social Work Profession, Children’s Services

Provide professional clear leadership, support and development to service staff to ensure that relevant professional standards are met.

Works closely with partners, through the auspices of the NCSB, to ensure that safeguarding services are led well and that they provide a sound framework for managing risk; and, with Community Services Assistant Director Social Work and Occupational Therapy to jointly define professional standards and lead the development of a distinctive Norfolk social work philosophy.

Representation and communication

To promote the voice of the child through increasing opportunities for involvement in service design and planning

Develop close working relationships with other agencies and public service providers, building successful working relationships to achieve improved outcomes for Norfolk children and young people.

Ensure effective communication, with public, Members and partners.

Ensure a customer service ethos which delivers high standards of customer care in responding to customer comments and complaints.

Key Performance Outcomes

Deliver a social work service that effectively discharges the council’s statutory responsibilities and is judged outstanding by OFSTED.

Delivers a safe and stable social work workforce, reducing turnover and reliance on agency or interim staff where possible and appropriate

Delivers excellent social work safeguarding practice, need assessments and interventions, so that children at risk of significant harm are safeguarded and every child in need of help or protection has a named social worker;

Safely reduces the numbers of Looked After Children ensuing help is received by the right children for the right period of time; and prioritises finding permanent homes for children who cannot be safely looked after by their parents.

Defines a new model of social work intervention – Signs of Safety – and works with the NSCB to establish a single assessment framework with agreed thresholds for risk.

Successfully develop new services to respond to challenges in delivering outcomes for LAC, including kinship arrangements and a remodelled Leaving Care Service.

Work with the NSCB, the police and other partners to deliver a remodelled and more responsive MASH.

Effective performance management, quality assurance and compliance processes are put in place.

The department's activities are co-ordinated and aligned with business planning cycles.

Relationship with members, partners, both internal (eg Shared Services functions) and external (eg Police) are developed so as to secure the resources required to deliver the department's strategic objectives.

Functions directly managed are delivered effectively and to budget.

Management team receives effective and timely strategic advice, including accurate planning and performance monitoring advice.

Other Job Information

This is a politically-restricted post, and the postholder cannot be elected as a councillor in any local authority.

Information common to all Norfolk County Council job descriptions

All work performed and duties undertaken must be carried out in accordance with relevant County Council and Departmental policies and procedures, within legislation, and with regard to the needs of our customers and the diverse community we serve.

Job descriptions set out the main outcomes of the job, and will be updated only when those change.

Job holders will be expected to be flexible in their duties and carry out any other duties commensurate with the grade and falling within the general scope of the job, as requested by management.


Person Specification


  • Masters level ability with significant post qualification experience of organising and delivering professional services.
  • MA/MSc/2:1 Honours Degree or Diploma in Social Work or CQSW
  • Registration as a Social Worker with the HCPC.


  • Evidence of experience as a senior manager of social work services with a broad background in children's services.
  • Successfully delivered service improvement and managed organisational change.

Skills and knowledge

Context and organisation knowledge

  • A strong corporate player, developing shared common approaches with colleagues across the council and enabling joined-up planning and shared values and objectives.

    Knowledge of:
    • A clear understanding of the government transformation in children's services agenda and political and professional developments within the arena of children's services.
    • A clear understanding of the Ofsted framework for service delivery
    • the challenges of public service delivery in a context of rapid demographic and social change
    • local government organisation and services
    • relevant local and national service agendas and relevance to the wider social and economic environment within Norfolk.
  • Able to demonstrate political sensitivity and interpret political will in a complex political environment
  • Able to work effectively in co-operation and partnership with a wide range of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors.
  • Commitment to and understanding of equalities issues in service delivery and employment.

Strategy, planning and issue resolution skills

  • Highly developed and complex levels of knowledge, with ability to apply analytical reasoning and develop original responses to complicated and unpredictable problems and situations.
  • Analytical skills to understand and use ‘big’ data and intelligence to build an accurate picture of service delivery and a sound evidence base for decision making.
  •  Able to operate at a strategic level, planning and strategically manage services of a large and complex organisation in areas relevant to the role.

Communication skills

  • Excellent communication and diplomacy skills with the ability to build strong networks and influence and persuade senior partners and stakeholders.
  • Ability to gain the confidence of Members, senior managers, partner organisations, colleagues and employees.
  • Ability to provide a clear overview of complex issues and provide sound, professional and reliable advice in an engaging, accessible and non-technical manner orally and in writing.
  • Able to access hard to reach groups and act on their needs to effect change.
  • Operate within the Council's Leader Role profile.

Personal attributes


  • Tenacity and resilience, for example in tackling poor performance and challenging existing ways of doing things.
  • Creativity and imagination in seeing new approaches, painting the vision, overcoming obstacles and showing that ambitious goals can be achieved.

Commitment and passion to drive improvements to the real life experiences of children and their families.

Leadership criteria

Strategy into action - Accountability

  • Think conceptually and see the bigger picture;
  • Forge a climate where constructive challenge and the voicing of creative ideas are encouraged;
  • Know when to move from analysis to action;
  • Commitment and passion to drive improvements in the real life experiences of people in Norfolk;
  • Commitment to and understanding of equalities issues, and tenacity and resilience to see things through;
  • Able to demonstrate political awareness and sensitivity.

Commerciality - Business like

  • A commercial outlook and approach, recognising importance of value for money, and the ability to lead, develop and motivate staff and teams to effect change;
  • Able to demonstrate political awareness and sensitivity.

Data analytics - Evidence-based

  • An outcome and performance focus
  • Create meaning out of disparate or ambiguous data to inform strategic decisions;
  • Critically evaluate feasibility, cost and impact to ensure interventions are proportionate and appropriate;
  • Encourage others to support their thinking with credible data

Influencing - Collaborative

  • Creativity and imagination in seeing new approaches, painting the vision;
  • A strong corporate player;
  • Ability to gain the confidence of all stakeholders;
  • Able to work effectively in cooperation and partnership with a wide range of organisations;
  •  Excellent communication and negotiating skills with the ability to present complex issues in a simple and easy to understand way.