Education secretary Nicky Morgan has sent in children’s services troubleshooter Malcolm Newsam to oversee improvements in children’s social care at Rotherham Council.
The move follows last month’s revelations that police and social care professionals at the council had “suppressed or ignored” allegations of children being sexually abused for more than decade.
Newsam’s appointment also comes after Ofsted chief inspector Michael Wilshaw alerted Morgan to his “deep concerns” about the council’s children’s services following an inspection that is due to be published next month.
In his note to Morgan, Wilshaw warns that there are serious weakenesses in the leadership of social services in Rotherham and that since Joyce Thacker resigned as director of children’s services “there is a lack of clear leadership and accountability for children’s services”.
In a letter to Rotherham council leader Paul Lakin, Morgan said she was appointing Newsam as a commissioner to “urgently investigate and address the failings” in the authority.
Newsam has previously been called on to turnaround children’s services in Essex, Kent and Peterborough.
In the letter to Lakin, Morgan said Rotherham is required to “provide full cooperation with my commissioner” who will be tasked with recommending “immediate next steps” for the authority.
Under the draft direction issued with the letter, Newsam will hold the position for a initial period of three months where he will examine the nature and scale of the problems within the council’s children’s services and review the authority’s leadership capability and capacity to deliver improvements.
Rotherham Council has until Thursday (9 October) to respond to Morgan’s decision to appoint Newsam as commissioner.