Friday 07 Mar 2014
Six Birmingham City Council social workers have been sacked in a drive to turn around failing children's services in the wake of Khyra Ishaq's death, BBC Radio WM has learned.
The council's director of children's services, Colin Tucker, talks exclusively to former Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson in a half-hour report broadcast today at 9.00 a.m. (Friday 19 March) on BBC WM.
Tucker, who was head-hunted by the council to help turn around children's services after the government served an "Improvement Notice", reveals that six staff had been dismissed during his first seven months as part of moves to improve the department's performance. He also reveals that there has been one further child death from neglect or abuse since he joined the council.
He says: "They [the six staff] didn't adhere to the standards and the expectations that we've laid down and showed no sign whatsoever that they were able to do that so we dismissed them.
"That's the culture we now have in this department and we are very clear that we are here to safeguard children; it's not just a job club."
Tucker explains how he had also introduced new intensive training, and that the department was working hard to increase the numbers of permanent staff so that it could decrease reliance on agency stand-ins.
He tells Steve Dyson: "I am determined to ensure that there's more continuity recruiting permanent staff and that's where we are working really hard with the universities to encourage more students to come and do placements here because... they are getting a diversity and challenge in terms of the work they do that you cannot get anywhere else in the country."
Tucker also says that there were still 120 vacancies for permanent staff, and that this and other factors meant that he wants the Improvement Notice to remain in place for the time being, perhaps being updated to highlight progress achieved.
The full interview can be heard on 95.6 FM or after broadcast via bbc.co.uk/birmingham.