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Birmingham appoints another children’s social services director

Birmingham appoints another children’s social services director

🕔29.Oct 2014

Birmingham city council has appointed a new director to head its troubled children’s social services department, reports Paul Dale.

Alastair Gibbons, currently in charge of children’s social care in Colchester, will start work in Birmingham in February.

His appointment is the latest attempt to fill one of the most challenging jobs in local government.

Earlier this month Birmingham announced that the first choice for the role, Bernie McNally, had decided not to take up the position after being appointed social services director in the summer.

Ms McNally pulled out after visiting the council for a brief induction period.

Mr Gibbons will follow in the footsteps of former directors Peter Duxbury and Colin Tucker. Both lasted less than two years in the hot seat and left after failing to turn around the department, which has been in Government special measures for six years.

He will be executive director for children’s services covering all aspects of children’s social care.

The role, reporting directly to strategic director for people Peter Hay, is to drive through the improvement agenda, ensuring proper oversight of a substantial change programme agreed by Lord Warner, the city’s children’s commissioner.

Mr Gibbons has thirty years’ experience in local authority social services since completing his social work qualification at Birmingham University.

He has worked in a number of different roles in both children’s and adult services, mainly in Leicestershire, Milton Keynes, and latterly in Essex.

He was Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care in Milton Keynes for five years before moving to Essex in January 2012 to be part of a new senior management team that helped Essex move from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’ through a focus on relationship-based social work with families.

Mr Gibbons said: “I am very honoured to be offered this key post to lead Birmingham children’s social care. This will be a challenge and an opportunity to build more effective social work services that will meet the needs of children and support their families. I am very much looking forward to that challenge and opportunity, working with and building on the progress social work staff have made over the past year.”

Cllr Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and family services, said: “I am pleased to be welcoming Alastair back to Birmingham as we move forward in our improvement journey. He has done excellent work improving children’s social care in Essex and he is ideally suited to the job here in Birmingham.”

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