22nd March 2021

Children and Families Directorate

Care, Protection and Justice Division

Professional Social Work Adviser, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government

Secondment opportunity or Fixed Term Appointment – 23 month duration, start date 1 June 2021

Salary range: £48,930 to £61,006

Applications close 13 April 2021

We are inviting applications for a professional adviser role to provide policy support and professional advice to the Scottish Government Child Protection Unit.  The postholder will be a qualified and registered social worker with significant experience in children and families social work.

Applicants should have experience of policy development and implementation and be confident operating at a national level. We are looking for an individual who can identify key issues and liaise with stakeholders to articulate solutions that are workable, and in keeping with social work values and principles.

The Child Protection Unit is part of Care, Protection and Justice Division within the Children and Families Directorate.  The Unit drives delivery of work on a number of high profile and politically sensitive child protection policy areas.  The team works in a fast-paced environment with a high degree of Ministerial and stakeholder engagement.

The postholder will provide social work input and advice across the work of the Unit, and work collaboratively with policy and professional leads to identify linkages, risks and opportunities across policy developments including The Promise, Age of Criminal Responsibility, Joint Investigative Interviewing and UNCRC.  Professional leadership and support will be provided through the Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser.  To assist in the delivery of this role, the postholder will also be supported by colleagues at Social Work Scotland, with direct access to Chief Social Work Officers and social work Heads/Managers of children’s services.

The successful candidate will be joining as revised national child protection guidance is finalised and will have a key role in supporting local areas to consider adaptations to local operational procedures and practice and prepare to implement these changes.

The team is normally based in Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, but are currently working from home in line with Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance.  There will be flexibility in working arrangements on return to office working.  Some travel within Scotland will be necessary due to the wide range of stakeholders with an interest in our work.

This is a personally and professionally rewarding role which provides a unique opportunity to work with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders to support and influence policy development and implementation.  The postholder will play a key role in helping to ensure we meet the ongoing demands arising from the pandemic, EU exit planning and business as usual needs at this critical time, including the delivery of statutory commitments.

The post holder will have visibility across Government, exposure to stakeholders at every level and will have both scope and support to further develop skills in policy development, stakeholder engagement and influencing and project management.  Following the secondment opportunity, exporting employers should expect to significantly benefit from the knowledge exchange, skills, and professional networks on the return of individuals as a result of their experience.

The successful candidate will be paid their current salary or the range minimum (£48,930) if this is higher.  On-costs and VAT (if chargeable) will be reimbursed as appropriate.

A suitable Disclosure Scotland certificate is required for this post.

How to apply

Applications should be made using the Inward Secondment Application Form and must include an employer endorsement.  Applications should address the competencies and essential criteria within the role description.

Interviews are competency-based.  For both applications and interviews, candidates are asked to provide examples from their working life that demonstrate how they meet the three competencies and four required essential criteria.

A good example will generally cover a description of the Situation, the Task, the Activity undertaken and the Result.

The closing date for applications is 13 April 2021.  Virtual interviews will take place as soon as possible after the closing date.

For further information about the post please contact Lindsay MacDougall, Acting Head of Child Protection – lindsay.macdougall@gov.scot.  Applications should also be sent to this e-mail address.

Role description and person specification

The successful candidate will work within the Child Protection Unit of the Scottish Government Children and Families Directorate supporting delivery of all workstreams.

Main duties

  • Provide social work input and advice, liaising with sources of advice and expertise.
  • Bring a consistent practice focus on children’s rights, equalities and family support across the work of the Unit.
  • Work in partnership with SG policy leads, professional advisers and stakeholders to support the delivery of the revised national guidance for child protection and related developments.
  • Contribute to the drafting of national guidance, reports and responses to issues raised by Ministers, stakeholders and the public.
  • Collaborate with Social Work Scotland’s Director, Children and Families Lead, Committees and networks to inform and influence policy and practice developments.
  • Work collaboratively with SG policy and professional leads and stakeholders; including proactive identification of intersecting responsibilities, risks and opportunities.
  • Provide social work input in relation to legal, policy, guidance and research developments.
  • Support implementation and monitoring of adaptations to local practice and procedures following publication of revised national child protection guidance.
  • Support the work of the Chief Social Work Adviser and play an active role in the Directorate’s professional adviser team.
  • Participate in reference and working groups in which a child protection practice and policy perspective is necessary.

Key Competencies

Networking and influencing

The postholder will be able to quickly build relationships with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, influencing a range of inter-linked policy areas.  Success will require leadership, influencing and supporting skills.  The role requires the ability to build trust and credibility and work collaboratively to deliver shared outcomes.

Communication and engagement

This role requires cross-Government engagement and work with a wide range of stakeholders on issues affecting children and families and requires excellent written and verbal communication and an ability to communicate complex messages to a varied audience.

Analysis and use of evidence

This role requires the ability to synthesise evidence and information from a range of sources to inform development and decision-making.

Person specification

The successful candidate must have the following qualifications, experience, knowledge and skills:

Professional registration

  • Be a qualified social worker registered with the SSSC or equivalent body.

Experience, knowledge and skills

  • Experience of working at a senior level in children and families social work with significant operational experience in child protection.
  • Current knowledge of child protection services and responses, strengths and challenges and a good understanding of the legislative framework, policies and emerging themes.
  • Significant experience of leading and influencing policy change and development.
  • A good understanding of the political context in Scotland and the ability to operate effectively within it.
  • The ability to create networks for peer support.

Essential criteria

  1. Experience of working collaboratively with a range of partners to build robust relationships, in order to influence, negotiate and deliver agreed outcomes.
  2. Demonstrable skills in policy development and delivery in complex areas, making appropriate use of evidence from a range of sources to inform approaches.
  3. Experience of communicating complex messages to a range of audiences to influence outcomes with the ability to find common ground within groups with differing views.
  4. The ability to analyse information and produce succinct reports.