I’ve just returned from speaking to the final annual conference of the Commission for Social Care. My speech had to be cut right down, which, given the fee the CSCI was paying to the RSA, meant I achieved a pounds per minute rate rivalling Jonathan Ross! But it was worth cutting back to hear a splendid speech by Ivan Lewis.
It can’t be much fun being a Government minister at the moment, but Ivan’s speech was passionate, honest and full of ideas. But the other thing that really hit me about the conference was the number of social care users (clients and carers) playing a full role. As I’ve said in previous blogs, social care has gone from being deeply unfashionable to being the most innovative public service, in large part due to the commitment across the sector to user engagement. I was struck by the contrast between the many users I saw today and the fact that one rarely sees students or parents playing an active role in education conferences. At a recent RSA Opening Minds conference, it was the student who stole the show, but I have spoken at many other gatherings of head teachers, officials and educationalists and the user voice has been almost entirely absent.
10 years ago, anyone would have been surprised to be told that the social care sector would become innovative than education. I wonder how much of the explanation lies in listening to the voice of the user.