Workshop E: Colin Mackenzie, Devon County Council


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Presentation by Colin Mackenzie, Head of Strategic Infrastructures, Devon County Council, at CMP's 'Aiming for excellence' conference, 5 December 2008, London.

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  • Workshop E: Colin Mackenzie, Devon County Council

    1. 1. Children and Young People’s Services Mediation Service
    2. 2. <ul><li>Why did we set up the CYPS Mediation Service? </li></ul><ul><li>Several instances of lengthy unresolved conflict. </li></ul><ul><li>The process of investigation in a school setting is:  the head teacher investigates </li></ul><ul><li> if resolution is not achieved, the chair of governors investigates and reports to an independent panel of school governors </li></ul><ul><li> if resolution is still not possible CYPS can be asked to investigate. </li></ul><ul><li>CYPS had been involved in several lengthy investigations which had directly involved or affected numerous senior managers and county councillors and this caused concern. </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>An investigation involving a head teacher and a traveller family had been going on for over a year before being passed to CYPS to deal with. The Race Equality Council had taken up the case. CYPS investigation lasted another six months as all parties had become entrenched. </li></ul><ul><li>Resolved by several key people coming together informally, talking through the issues and agreeing a way forward – mediation . </li></ul><ul><li>Senior managers had become involved and were happy to agree to a new approach. </li></ul><ul><li>This was a big step forward and one of the critical factors in the success of the mediation service. </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>Devon Fire Service had launched a mediation service led by two CMP trained mediators – one was Roger Morris. </li></ul><ul><li>I joined their certificated training course. We agreed to mediate for each other’s organisations - the starting point of our multi-agency service . </li></ul><ul><li>CYPS trained a nine more mediators: </li></ul><ul><li> two from probation </li></ul><ul><li> three CYPS staff </li></ul><ul><li> three head teachers </li></ul><ul><li> one from the head teacher support unit. </li></ul><ul><li>In addition, we provided awareness training for our Customer Care Team </li></ul><ul><li>The service mediates between parents and schools (the head or chair of governors) and between the head teachers and chairs of governors. </li></ul><ul><li>We don’t mediate between children and young people. </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>Devon County Council’s HR service provided mediation to DCC staff. We involved them in our group meetings and CPD. There are now 24 mediators across Devon Mediation Group. </li></ul><ul><li>The service mediates in: </li></ul><ul><li> Devon schools </li></ul><ul><li> the CYPS workforce </li></ul><ul><li> the rest of the County Council workforce </li></ul><ul><li> Devon and Somerset Fire Service </li></ul><ul><li> Devon and Cornwall Police </li></ul><ul><li> Devon and Cornwall Probation Service </li></ul><ul><li> Plymouth Schools and workforce </li></ul><ul><li> Plymouth Youth Offending Service. </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>2. What challenges have we faced and how have we overcome them? </li></ul><ul><li>Buy-in from senior management by seizing the moment after a lengthy investigation. </li></ul><ul><li>Getting the unions and professional associations on board with our service. The CYPS union lead is a member of the mediation group. </li></ul><ul><li>Overcoming resistance and persuading managers, head teachers and chairs of governing bodies that the process would: </li></ul><ul><li> work </li></ul><ul><li> save resources </li></ul><ul><li> benefit those involved </li></ul><ul><li> improve the reputation of the organisation. </li></ul><ul><li>And most importantly, that it wasn’t just another flavour of the month initiative! </li></ul>
    7. 7. <ul><li>Our strategy was to switch people on gradually so they could learn the benefits, and our capacity could match initial demand. </li></ul><ul><li>We mediated two high profile cases in schools before marketing the service so we could use examples of success and use the heads of those schools as advocates. </li></ul><ul><li>One of the heads was released from an extremely stressful situation which had been going on for a long time and which she could not see an end to. </li></ul><ul><li>Using heads as advocates has achieved recognition for, and acceptance of, the service - and additional resources. </li></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>As well as spreading the message by word of mouth we: </li></ul><ul><li> produced a poster sent to all heads and chairs of governors </li></ul><ul><li> visited all of Devon’s 32 Local Learning Communities (LLCs) </li></ul><ul><li> produced a display for use at teacher association conferences </li></ul><ul><li> provided a web site. </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges </li></ul><ul><li> Financial resource </li></ul><ul><li> Impartiality </li></ul><ul><li> Slow take-up of cases </li></ul><ul><li> Capacity </li></ul><ul><li> Logistical problems </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>3. What success have we had and what are our plans for achieving excellence? </li></ul><ul><li>Successes </li></ul><ul><li> 100% success rate on mediations. </li></ul><ul><li> Parents can progress issues they felt had been blocked previously and have a greater understanding of the school’s perspective. </li></ul><ul><li> Communication has dramatically improved. </li></ul><ul><li> Heads’ can resolve issues in a short period of time. </li></ul><ul><li> Advising other services. </li></ul><ul><li> Using head teachers as advocates. </li></ul>
    10. 10. <ul><li>Achieving excellence </li></ul><ul><li> All mediators have an opportunity to practice regularly including role play and observation. </li></ul><ul><li> A post mediation debrief. </li></ul><ul><li> Parties involved complete a satisfaction form. </li></ul><ul><li> Follow up mediation with a call or visit. </li></ul><ul><li> We constantly review access to mediation. </li></ul><ul><li> O ne point of contact with appropriate back-up for all mediations. </li></ul>
    11. 11. <ul><li>4. What have we learned from our experience? </li></ul><ul><li> Take every care when explaining the process </li></ul><ul><li> B uild trust with those involved </li></ul><ul><li> Have realistic expectations </li></ul><ul><li> Make dual mediation your default position </li></ul><ul><li> move away from the script </li></ul><ul><li> Be robust at debrief </li></ul><ul><li> Keep senior management informed </li></ul><ul><li> Keep unions and associations updated </li></ul><ul><li> Check capacity </li></ul><ul><li> Keep the mediation team up to date </li></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li>5. Some of our experiences </li></ul><ul><li> A dispute between parents </li></ul><ul><li> A multi-agency mediation </li></ul><ul><li> Issues in a Local Learning Community (LLC) </li></ul><ul><li> A racist issue in school </li></ul>
    13. 13. 6. Our future plans  Increase marketing  Maximise the resource in Devon County Council  Be proactive in encouraging other agencies to join us  Establish a further programme of awareness sessions
    14. 14. <ul><li>Thank you for your attention to this presentation. We are happy to talk further during the conference. If you don’t get an opportunity, but wish to follow anything up with us our contact details are: </li></ul><ul><li>Roger Morris </li></ul><ul><li>Tel 07966 474364 </li></ul><ul><li>Email [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Colin Mackenzie </li></ul><ul><li>Tel 01392 382064 </li></ul><ul><li>Email [email_address] </li></ul>