Council suspends senior manager ahead of critical Ofsted report

Sandwell council is expected to receive a critical report into its children's services

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Sandwell council has suspended one of its senior managers ahead of what is expected to be a critical Ofsted report into the area’s children’s services.

Local newspapers claim former social worker Helen Smith has been temporarily stood down from her role as service director for children and families.

Sandwell Council’s chief executive Jan Britton confirmed a director of the council had been suspended but said “suspension is a neutral act which does not imply wrongdoing”.

He refused to make any further comment although a spokesperson confirmed there had been a recent Ofsted inspection of safeguarding services.

Sandwell was first judged inadequate by Ofsted in 2009 but was thought to be turning a corner in February last year when it achieved an “adequate” rating.

However, Britton told Community Care in November that he feared Sandwell might slip back into an inadequate rating following a tougher inspection regime from Ofsted and the decision by former director of children’s services Barbara Peacock to leave.

To try and avoid that fate Britton confirmed a private contract worth £1.15million with iMPOWER had been awarded to run the department. Part of the contract was to bring in a new director of children’s services, Simon White, who still remains in place.

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