Birmingham’s new children’s services boss quits before starting

Appointed in August, McNally was undergoing an introductory period this month before formally beginning in November

Birmingham town hall Photo: Ethel Davis/Robert Harding/Rex

Bernadette McNally has quit as executive director for children’s services for Birmingham, two weeks before she was due to start.

Appointed in August, McNally was undergoing an introductory period this month ahead of starting work in November. But in a statement issued by Birmingham Council she said “she was no longer interested in taking up the role” and had quit.

Birmingham appointed McNally in August to lead its children’s services, which have been rated inadequate by Ofsted for the past 6 years, and to provide stability to a department which has had four strategic directors since 2006. She was previously the director of social services at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust,

Eleni Ioannides has been recruited to fill the position on an interim basis. Ioannides led Bury’s children’s services department for five years until 2010, before taking an early retirement.

The council’s statement said that McNally’s departure was made “by mutual agreement”. The statement added: “This news is disappointing as we thought we had secured an excellent candidate from the first class group of people who applied for the post.”

Tony Rabaiotti, regional head of local government for Unison in the West Midlands, said he was “appalled” that McNally has left the position.

“For the person concerned to leave so quickly is frankly a kick in the teeth for all those people doing their best for Birmingham children in really difficult circumstances,” said Rabaiotti, who said this role is vital for supporting Birmingham’s current director of children’s services.

“I don’t know why she’s upped and gone, it may be a personal matter, I don’t know there may be something very serious, but it seems to me if she’s going to take a job several hundred miles away you would be fairly confident in the first place you would be able to see it through.”

He said that with the service’s interim leadership now continuing until a permanent appointment is made, there shouldn’t be much of an impact on Birmingham’s plans to improve services but said what the council’s social workers need is assurance and stability and less temporary solutions.

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