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Children’s social services chief quits before she starts the job

Children’s social services chief quits before she starts the job

🕔16.Oct 2014

The latest official appointed to run Birmingham city council’s troubled children’s social care department has quit the job even before she started.

Bernie McNally was due to take up her duties as executive director of children’s services next month.

In a brief statement the council said Ms McNally decided she was “no longer interested” in taking up the role after visiting Birmingham for an induction period.

Her decision reinforces the unwanted reputation of children’s services director as one of the most difficult jobs in UK local government. Previous holders of the post, most notably Colin Tucker and Peter Duxbury, lasted less than two years before they left by mutual consent.

Birmingham children’s social services have been under Government special measures for more than five years after being declared inadequate by Ofsted.

Lord Warner, an Education Commissioner appointed by the Department for Education, was drafted in earlier this year to oversee an improvement plan. The plan is yet to be signed off by the DoE.

Ms McNally’s appointment in August was regarded as a coup for the council.

Currently the executive director of social services at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, she came highly recommended with years of experience.

At the time of the appointment Mark Rogers, Birmingham council chief executive, described Ms McNally as an excellent choice whose strategic planning experience would “make her ideally suited to the job she will be doing here in the city.”

In a statement issued today, the council said: “Bernie McNally was appointed as Executive Director for Children’s Services and was due to commence formally in post at the beginning of November. During the introductory period in October which was arranged in preparation for this, Bernie decided that she was no longer interested in taking up the role, and by mutual agreement will not be proceeding with the appointment.

“The news about Bernie is disappointing as we thought we had secured an excellent candidate from the first class group of people who applied for the post.

“Our priority however is to ensure that children are made safe through what we are doing and this is a big collective challenge. It’s important to remind ourselves that our most serious staffing challenge is to get the right number of social workers doing great social work with the best team management around them.

“Of course getting the right leadership is a key ingredient to this. We are renewing our efforts accordingly. However, we have managed to find alternatives that have worked over recent months through the combination of interim support, the cover and flexibility of senior managers across the Directorate to lead programmes of work and your continued support and goodwill.

“We remain very clear about the priority of having stable and long term leadership for children’s social care.

“We are looking to bolster the interim leadership and have successfully appointed Eleni Ioannides to join us for an interim period. Eleni is a very experienced Director of Children’s Services/social care director and we are delighted that she will be bringing the approach and focus we need at this time.

“Eleni will be starting from 28th October and is very much looking forward to the role.

“We have resumed discussions with the agency that supported the recent Executive Director for Children’s Services recruitment and are looking to make early decisions on the next steps we will take with the permanent post.”

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