New Director of Children's Services

Published Thursday, 6th November 2014
Strategic Director of Children's Services Ian Thomas
Strategic Director of Children's Services Ian Thomas

Rotherham Borough Council has appointed a new Strategic Director of Children’s Services.

Ian Thomas – currently Deputy Chief Executive and Strategic Director of Children’s Services with Derbyshire County Council – will take up his new role in January 2015.

Ian has almost 30 years experience in the private, voluntary and public sectors, including 25 years in local government, and has worked for Derbyshire County Council since 2006 in a number of senior management roles.

As Strategic Director of Children’s Services since 2011, his key achievements include a strong Single Inspection Framework Inspection by Ofsted earlier this year, with Derbyshire being one of only 30 per cent of councils to achieve an overall rating of Good.

Inspectors highlighted particular strengths in leadership, performance management, excellent social work practice, a strong early help offer for families and noteworthy outcomes for children in care and care leavers.

Ian’s other achievements in Derbyshire include: the implementation of the county’s first education strategy (Journey to Excellence),  which has led to a 19% improvement in number of schools rated Good or better, from 64% to 76%; Troubled Families, where Derbyshire is ranked 4th nationally  and the % of young people not in education, employment or training, which has reduced to its lowest ever rate from 7.1% to 4.8%.

Prior to his roles within Derbyshire, Ian was part of the senior leadership team at Trafford Council, which he joined in 1999, and where he helped to transform the performance of social care and housing in the borough, and improve social care performance from a Weak to Excellent rating.

Ian is a national leader within the Association of Director’s of Children’s Services (ADCS), where he chairs the national Resources and Sustainability Committee.

He holds a Masters Degree from Lancaster University in developing professional practice (children’s services) and is a level 7 qualified executive coach and mentor.

Ian’s innovative ideas for transforming outcomes for children in care were recognised by The Observer and innovation charity NESTA, who earlier this year named him as one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals for 2014.

The son of a former Rotherham steelworker, Ian was born in Sheffield and still lives there. A former pupil of Newfield Comprehensive in the city, he is now a Governor at the school.

Given the urgent nature of the appointment Mr Thomas has been appointed on interim basis.

Said Ian: “I am privileged to be joining Rotherham to lead the transformation of the the system that improves outcomes for children in the borough. That system is a partnership involving not only the council but many others, including the police; health services; voluntary, community and independent sectors; and families themselves, who will have to play a role in supporting our children to grow and develop in a safe and nurturing environment. I’m confident in Rotherham’s future and am looking forward to working with the many people I have already met who are absolutely dedicated to this cause – elected members, senior officers and the dedicated staff delivering services on the front line.”

Cllr Paul Lakin, Leader of Rotherham Borough Council, said: “Ian’s appointment is great news for the Council, and great news for children and families in Rotherham. His track record speaks for itself, and we’re delighted that Rotherham will benefit from Ian’s substantial experience and expertise – including his work at a national level.”

Welcoming the appointment, Jo Cleary, Chair of the College of Social Work, said she was delighted that a Strategic Director with Ian’s credibility, determination and passion had taken on the challenge of ensuring safe practice and excellent services for children and young people in Rotherham, adding: “The College will look forward to supporting Ian and his colleagues in Rotherham to enable social workers to provide high quality care and support to children and families.”