By community care reporters Fears of education takeover grow

Concern that children’s services face being run by education
specialists are on the rise after research carried out by Community
Care revealed three-quarters of the new breed of children’s
services directors appointed to date are from an education

Responses from 124 of England’s 150 social services departments
show that, of the 36 departments that have appointed someone to the
role, 27 have selected education professionals.

Just six have come from social care. Of the remaining three posts,
two councils have given the responsibilities to their chief
executives and one local authority refused to say. Children’s
services directors will have overall responsibility for education
and children’s social services under the Children Bill currently
going through the House of Commons.

Outgoing president of the Association of Directors of Social
Services Andrew Cozens said: “I am not surprised [that high numbers
of education directors are taking on the role]. Because it is the
director of education post that has been abolished, appointing
people who have had that role is a default position.”

Directors of social services are likely to apply for the director
of adult services role. Cozens added: “I am disappointed because
directors of social services have a lot to offer the role. But it
is likely that we will see people appointed from a range of

In something of a coup for the social care sector, former director
of social services at Norfolk Council Lisa Christensen was
announced as the council’s children’s director earlier this month,
ahead of Norfolk’s education director and president of the
Association of Chief Education Officers Bryan Slater.

Research by the Improvement and Development Agency carried out this
summer and released last week shows that a third of English
councils have a lead councillor for children’s services – another
requirement of the Children Bill, alongside the appointment of a
director of children’s services.

The IDeA research also reveals that 20 per cent of councils
describe their children’s services as “shared”.

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