Social Work Employer of the Year


Leeds City Council, Children's Services

ORGANISATION: Leeds City Council

AWARD(S): Social Work Employer of the Year

From ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’ in less than a decade, Leeds’ children’s services has much to be proud of, and is widely regarded in the sector as an exemplar of good practice.


At the beginning of its improvement journey, Leeds made investment in the workforce a priority, taking the view that if you create the right environment for staff, good practice and good outcomes for children and families will follow. With ‘readiness to practice’ support for students, an aspiring managers programme, and academic masterclasses – to name a few – it’s clear that learning and development has been considered right across the service.


This investment has paid off – the children’s services current agency rate is 0.5%, compared to an England average of 15.4% and a regional average of 8%. The reduction in agency rates has achieved savings of over £20m for the council, which has been reinvested into services for children. Leeds is also ranked second nationally on social work vacancy rates, and is in the top ten authorities for turnover and average caseloads.


Figures aside, the numerous testimonials provided by staff also evidenced a workforce that feels valued, respected and supported, and like their development is taken seriously.


Just like it’s Ofsted rating, the judges concluded this entry was “frankly outstanding”.


This is quite frankly outstanding. Its a comprehensive, well thought out offer across all the aspects of being an employer. The many features of the offer are strengthened by being rooted in the values of restorative practice. This can be seen at work in the emphasis upon relationships which are the focus of so many endorsements but also shown in the small things such as the coaching between practitioners and senior leaders.

Peter Hay CBE, Chair, The Social Work Awards

The workforce data is evidence of the excellent conditions created by this employer for their social workers to practice well , feel valued and supported and to have a relentless focus on achieving the best outcomes for the people with who they work.

Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults

I am in the right place, at the right time, with the right support and I know my aspirations to continue to grow and develop moving forwards will be actualised with the tailored support Leeds so carefully invests in.

Feedback from colleague who completed the Aspiring Managers development programme

Leeds has recognised that the strength of any social work agency is in its people, and has invested accordingly in a clear career pathway for staff, supported by appropriate learning and development opportunities at every level. The benefits of this approach can be seen in their success in staff recruitment and retention, their Ofsted judgement, but most importantly in the outcomes they deliver for children.

Steve Walker, Director of Children’s Services, Leeds City Council


Elaine James

Isabelle Trowler

Lyn Romeo


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