The Department for Education (DfE) has today issued a new set of directions to Birmingham City Council in respect of its children’s services which require Birmingham to continue on its current improvement journey. As expected, the DfE has now announced the appointment of Andrew Christie as successor to Lord Warner as children’s commissioner to Birmingham. His role will be to ensure the city council continues robustly to deliver the three-year improvement plan which has been approved by the DfE. The directions also confirm that Essex County Council children’s services is currently Birmingham children’s services improvement partner.

Cllr John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council:

“I welcome Andrew Christie to Birmingham and I am confident that he will offer valuable input and experience as we continue to improve our children’s services. We have already made considerable progress, moving from a place of real concern to a place where we are stable, on the right track and moving forward.

“We know we are not there yet but we know what we need to do. We are working hard to improve our systems and processes and the quality of social work practice. We are committed to maintain adequate funding for children’s services and we are working more strategically with our partners to meet children’s needs consistently across the city.”

Cllr Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children’s services:

“I look forward to working with Andrew Christie; as someone with a long and distinguished background in children’s services he will be able to provide us with strategic advice and guidance as well as assurance. We are well into the second year of our three-year improvement plan and we have achieved, or have in progress, all aspects of the plan.

“Children’s services staff are working incredibly hard and I am really proud of what they have achieved. However I recognise that we still have a long way to go before we are a ‘Good’ service.

“It is now vital that we keep the service stable and achieve sustainable improvement and I am keen to work with Andrew to achieve this goal.”