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Birmingham Council chief exec Mark Rogers takes on new role in Coventry

Birmingham Council chief exec Mark Rogers takes on new role in Coventry

🕔25.Mar 2014

Mark Rogers, Birmingham city council’s new chief executive, has taken on additional responsibilities less than a month after settling into his job.

He is to chair an improvement board to sort out Coventry’s failing children’s social services.

Mr Rogers will be expected to oversee a rescue plan in Coventry at the same time as presiding over efforts to address similar problems in Birmingham, where children’s social care is ranked ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and under has been subject to a Department for Education improvement order for more than four years.

With a reputation as an expert in these areas – he was director of children’s services at Solihull Council before becoming its chief executive – Mr Rogers has a busy workload in charge of Birmingham, which is Britain’s largest council. He is also president this year of SOLACE, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.

His enhanced role was confirmed hours after an Ofsted report into children’s services at Coventry City Council condemned leadership, management and governance and questioned the effectiveness of the local children safeguarding board.

Mr Rogers said he regarded his involvement with Coventry as a “really positive development”.

He explained that he was invited last year to join a reference group at Coventry Council to provide support to children’s services and adult social services.

Mr Rogers added: “Coventry’s chief executive and I felt that this arrangement would bring valuable experience and a fresh pair of eyes to the table.

“Following Coventry’s recent Ofsted report I was asked to re-focus my involvement and have been invited to chair its improvement board – an offer that I have accepted. Given our shared improvement challenges, I see this as a really positive development.

“Local authorities can always learn from each other.”

The additional responsibilities for Mr Rogers came as a surprise to Birmingham’s education scrutiny committee. Chairman Cllr Anita Ward said she was concerned about the extra workload for the chief executive.

Cllr Ward added: “He has only just been appointed in Birmingham and he is still trying to get his feet under the table. Shouldn’t he be using his time and energy to sort out his own back yard first?”

Coventry found itself in the spotlight following the death of four-year-old Daniel Pelka in 20102.

Daniel died from a heart attack after he was starved and abused by his mother and her boyfriend in a shocking case with notable similarities to the death by starvation of seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq in Birmingham in 2007 – an event that helped push Birmingham children’s social services into special measures from which it has proved impossible to escape.

The Department for Education said that improvement measures put in place by Coventry council after Daniel’s death were “simply not good enough”.

Birmingham is waiting to hear the result of an investigation into children’s services following an inspection ordered by Children’s Minister Edward Timpson. Experts led by Professor Julian Le Grand will report directly to Mr Timpson and Education Secretary Michael Gove following their appraisal of the city council’s latest efforts to improve services for vulnerable children.

Professor Le Grand led a similar inquiry at Doncaster Council which resulted in a decision by Mr Gove to transfer responsibility for children’s social services to an independent trust.

Ofsted inspectors are currently in Birmingham conducting an in-depth review of children’s services and will decide whether the council can be moved out of special measures.

Last week, Birmingham council leader Sir Albert Bore said he and colleagues “must not delude ourselves” about the scale of the challenge to transform social care.

Sir Albert warned: “We have seen green shoots before, but the green shoots haven’t delivered sustainable improvement.”

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