This time last year, the Dundee Partnership unveiled its plan for making Dundee a better place to live and work across the next decade.
One year on, the Tele is looking at the progress of the City Plan across the course of five exclusive interviews.
Today we speak to Paul Clancy, executive director of children and family services at Dundee City Council, about how the plan is changing young lives for the better.
The City Plan’s goal for 2026 is ambitious: to make Dundee “the best place in Scotland to grow up”.
However, while it’s a lofty goal to shoot for, it’s one that Dundee City Council – and its partners in the Dundee Partnership – are on track to hit.
As it is, 11 of its key targets have either improved or remained on track in the first full year of the City Plan.
These include Curriculum for Excellence targets such as reading and numeracy goals for P7 kids (65% of whom are now at ‘second level’, up from 57% last year) and attendance, steady year-on-year at 92%.
To Paul Clancy, children and families boss at the council, the initial report is a good start, but there’s still plenty left to do.
“The fact that our key projects are on schedule, while some of them are long-term, shows that we’ve got the right actions in mind,” he said.
“We’re very pleased about the progress that has been made in Curriculum for Excellence, particularly in primary schools.
“Our next step is to use what we’ve learned there and apply it to secondaries.
“But we’re targeting early years learning at the moment so we would expect positive change in primaries first.”
Children and family services don’t just relate to school.
For kids who have come from more challenging backgrounds, there are targets to make a difference to their future.
A year into Dundee’s City Plan, 100% of its residential and foster care placements are rated ‘good’ or better, up from 75%, but there is always a need for more places.
At present, the council has to send just under a third of “looked after” children – those legally in the care of the council – outside the Dundee area. With a campaign under way to encourage more adults to consider fostering – especially of older children – it’s something Mr Clancy is keen to reduce in the years ahead.
He added: “We’re really pleased with the foster carers that we have in the city but there’s a need for more.
“I believe outcomes for looked-after children are good in most respects but we need to do better for them at the earliest possible stages. Looked-after children remain close to my heart and we have to get things right for them.
“We need to see them going on to positive destinations and, if we don’t manage that, I will be very, very disappointed.
“In effect, we are their parents – they are our children.
“Parents would die in a ditch for their kids and we will do the same.”
However, with the City Plan running until 2026, Mr Clancy knows he and his partners are playing a long game.
“Everyone, all of our partners, need to be involved for the outcomes to be achieved and the plan needs time. This is a partnership effort, and we’re chasing some long-term goals.
“It will probably take about 10 years to get some of that change in place. Some will be before that, but some of that change is generational. We need this plan to make those happen.”