Head of new children’s department appointed
THE former chief executive of Birmingham City Council – who left in controversial circumstances after being handed a reported £500,000 payout – has been appointed as the director general of a new States department that is to focus on child welfare, it has been announced.
Mark Rogers, who spent 16 years as a teacher and headteacher before working in UK children’s services departments, will work alongside Education chief officer Justin Donovan to set up the new department. Mr Donovan will be standing down as chief officer for Education at the end of the summer term.
As part of Mr Rogers’ remit within the new Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills, he will focus on speeding up the implementation of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry recommendations.
The Birmingham Mail reported that he left the city council last year with a half-a-million-pound payout, which was branded ‘ludicrous’ by Conservative MPs.
During his tenure, the Birmingham authority came under severe criticism for failing to deliver promised budget cuts, which led to a £49 million black hole in the council accounts, while its child protection service was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.
However, Mr Rogers defended his record and said that many of the problems in Birmingham were already present before he took over in 2014.
He said: ‘Birmingham City Council has an annual revenue budget of £3 billion. Like all English councils, every year since 2008 it has been required to make significant reductions in expenditure.
‘To minimise the impact of such cuts it has been customary for many councils to use earmarked reserves to balance pressures in key service areas (such as social services), where the reductions in spending cannot be achieved in a single financial year. This is the approach that Birmingham took when I was its chief executive.
‘Birmingham’s children’s services had been in special measures for ten years before I started working there in 2014. By 2016 the improvements I made had taken half of those children’s services out of special measures. At the same time, I oversaw the design and implementation of an entirely new Children’s Trust, which went live in April 2017, and will lead to the removal all services from special measures.’
He added that he was ‘excited to be joining Jersey at this critical time’ and that his experience in children’s services roles meant he could ‘press forward with the reforms that are needed to children’s services’.
States chief executive Charlie Parker said Mr Rogers would be appointed on an interim basis until a permanent director general was found.
He said: ‘Mark Rogers has a wealth of experience of children’s education and welfare across more than three decades, and I’m delighted that he has agreed to join the urgent effort to transform Children’s Services in Jersey.’
Mr Rogers, whose most recent role was with audit firm KPMG, will take up the job with immediate effect after his appointment was approved by the States Employment Board. A States spokesperson confirmed Mr Rogers would be paid ‘in line with the usual States of Jersey pay scales for chief officers’.