Walsall restructures senior management

Two directors at Walsall Council are leaving their jobs as
part of a major restructuring of the council’s senior management team.

Director of social
services Don Phillips and director for education and community services Chris
Green have agreed to leave but will stay on until successors are recruited to
the posts – expected to be within the next six months.

Walsall chief
executive Hardial Bhogal said he was "extremely sad" that Phillips
and Green had decided to move on, but the council now had "an opportunity
for a fresh start in terms of appointing a top management structure that will
continue to take the council forward".

The council’s plans
include a new directorate for health and social affairs to replace the social
services department, but with an added health scrutiny role. Phillips said he
had used the council’s restructuring plans as an opportunity to take redundancy
and early retirement – as had Green.

"It’s a
personal decision. It’s time to move on," he added.

Last week a highly
critical Ofsted report said Walsall remained a very poor local education
authority. It concluded that the LEA was failing to provide effective support
for some of its most vulnerable children and had made "poor progress"
since its last inspection in 1999, which had led the Department for Education
and Skills to bring in private sector company Serco Quality Assurance Associates
(Serco QAA) to deliver many of the council school improvement and strategic
management services.

While the Ofsted
report is positive about the role of Serco QAA, it says the improvements are
"fragile" in view of the weaknesses at the council’s corporate centre
– a reference to the damning findings of the Audit Commission’s corporate
governance inspection published in January (News, page 12, 24 January).

In response to
Ofsted’s report, education secretary Estelle Morris last week appointed
consultants to advise on whether more services should be transferred to Serco

Since January’s
corporate governance report, the council has been fighting off the threat of
government intervention. It has agreed a new constitution for the council, set
a balanced budget for 2002-3 and earlier this month it published a corporate
recovery project plan. The plan sets out actions and outcomes in every area of
the council’s activities.

Inspection of
Walsall Local Education Authority (April 2002)
, available from www.ofsted.gov.uk

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