The independent trust that will take on responsibility for children’s services in Birmingham has appointed its first chief executive.
Andy Couldrick, who has previously worked as Wokingham council’s chief executive and a director of children’s services in Oxfordshire, will oversee day-to-day running of the trust.
Birmingham council decided to shift children’s services into a trust last year. The services have a troubled history, having been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in the last three inspections. The trust is expected to be fully set up by April 2018.
Couldrick said the changes offered an opportunity to drive improvements and build on the “fantastic work” of social workers in the council.
He said: “As a social worker myself, I know how challenging and how rewarding what we do is, and how we have the opportunity, together, to change lives.
“Anything I and the new trust can do, to make these challenges easier, to help improve how we work together, and to keep hold of the strong relationship with the city council, will be a pleasure as well as a privilege. I can’t wait to start.”
Speaking to Community Care, the trust’s chair Andrew Christie said there was “very early evidence” that moves to shift Doncaster and Slough’s children’s services into trusts had led to improvements. He said staff in Birmingham had shown “cautious enthusiasm” about the new model.
“I’m encouraged by how positively disposed staff – in the main – are to it. They have lots of questions that still need to be answered and I absolutely recognise and understand that, but I am very happy with the degree of support we are getting,” he said.
Christie said Birmingham’s trust had set up a staff reference group because “it’s really important in the trust that we value support staff as much as some senior social work managers”.
The reference group is working on the trust’s plans to have a social work representative in its governance arrangements.
The next task for the trust is to appoint more of its senior staff, like a head of human resources, finance and IT, Christie said, adding: “In two to three years’ time I would expect us to have made more progress to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and made quite a radical change to partnership working in the city.”