Reading dismisses children’s services chief after only four months

Sylvia Chew removed due to "serious concerns about her performance", says council, which also ends contract of interim children's services head

Picture: Stewart Turkington
Picture: Stewart Turkington

Reading council has dismissed its director of children’s services after only four months in the job.

Sylvia Chew has left her post as director of children, education and early help services due to “serious concerns about her performance”, the council said. It has also terminated the temporary contract of Raj Bharkhada, interim head of children’s services.

Reading has appointed Wendy Fabbro as interim statutory director of children’s services in the wake of Chew’s departure. She is also the council’s director of adult care and health and will hold both posts for the time being.

In a statement, Reading council said: “Conditions of service which apply to all senior council officers state they are expected to make significant achievements in implementing the council’s targets and programmes, with progress reviewed at regular intervals. Sylvia Chew joined the council in July. Following an internal review, the council has decided not to continue with the contract due to serious concerns about performance.

“The decision in no way reflects the valuable and important work being carried out by our staff on a day-to-day basis.”

Chew was publicly criticised by a High Court judge in 2013 for ordering a child protection investigation, when she was Haringey’s head of service for early response, into the care of a six-year-old girl which should not have taken place.

She left Haringey in 2012 and became director of children’s social care in Kingston upon Thames. Management of this service was transferred in 2014 to Achieving for Children, the community interest company that runs children’s services for Kingston and neighbouring Richmond council.

3 Responses to Reading dismisses children’s services chief after only four months

  1. ex colleague of Sylvia Chew November 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Gosh – seems very harsh to make this dismissal so public. An exception might be some very genuine sort of scandal which they presumably would have mentioned had it occurred. I worked with Sylvia in one of her previous roles and she was very committed and very good really. I have no idea what’s happened, although sometimes jobs just don’t work out – I wonder why they have effectively decided to destroy her career in this way? Not sure what the benefit to them is – a) who in their right mind would want to work in a senior management role in Reading Children’s service now? and b) I imagine this is likely to move Reading forward in the Ofsted Inspection programme so they presumably have Ofsted exploring the capacity and effectiveness of the new leadership and management who have come into post in a crisis situation.

  2. ANOther ex colleague of SC November 11, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Could not agree more – frankly why would anyone stick their neck out.

    I cannot imagine that what she did or didn’t do warranted this sort of vindictive press release.

  3. ANOther ex colleague of SC November 11, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Could not agree more – frankly why would anyone stick their neck out.

    I cannot imagine that what she did or didn’t do warranted this sort of vindictive press release.