December 6 2013 Latest news:
By Marijke Cox, Reporter
Friday, March 30, 2012
Calls follow announcement that children’s services chief will leave in July
The upcoming departure of Medway Council’s children’s services chief has reignited the campaign to oust Cllr Les Wicks.
Fresh calls for his resignation were made following the announcement that director of children and adult services Rose Collinson will be leaving on July 31.
In a statement, chief executive Neil Davies called Ms Collinson “dedicated and professional”.
“Throughout her time at Medway, Rose has been a dedicated and professional senior officer, demonstrating great passion to improve the lives of children, young people and vulnerable adults,” he said.
“She has been a strong advocate and champion for children, families and adults across Medway.”
But under Ms Collinson’s directorship, the council faced a number of challenges sparking calls for her and cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Wicks to resign.
- the Medway Test shambles last year when children sitting the exam at Chatham Grammar School for Boys were left waiting for 15 minutes because an important part of the English exam paper was missing. The test at Rainham School for Girls also overran by 90 minutes.
- Figures in November 2011 showing 11 per cent of Medway’s primaries had been served with inadequate Ofsted reports since May 2010.
- A number of senior staff leaving school including a head and deputy head at St Mary’s Island C of E and the head of Stoke Primary School.
Ms Collinson’s upcoming departure has reignited calls for Cllr Wicks to leave.
Labour spokesman for children’s services Cllr Adam Price said he wished Ms Collinson well for the future but demanded Cllr Wicks’ position be examined.
“It is worth taking this opportunity to point out that one person who still remains in place is Cllr Les Wicks, whose ownership of the portfolio for children has been littered with problems and mistakes,” he said.
“We have consistently called for him to accept culpability for the shortcomings of this directorate, but he seems consistently intent on passing the buck to others.”
Labour spokesperson for adult health and social care said Cllr Teresa Murray added: “We are grateful for Rose’s tireless dedication to her work and to the people of Medway over many years and on a personal note I wish Rose well.
“However, we have consistently raised concerns about the sheer size of her directorate.
“It is a huge undertaking for one person to manage and accountability is compromised as a result.”
Education expert Peter Read, who runs Kent Independent Education Advice, said Ms Collinson had to cope with a number of challenges.
“She had to cope with some very difficult issues in recent years, for example, the poor performance of Medway’s primary schools, league tables and Ofsted reports and the Medway Test debacle.
“She had to cope with some difficult political leadership.”
A petition was set up calling for the resignation of both Cllr Wicks and Ms Collinson on the grounds of “incompetence” earlier this year.
The creators said they should leave due to school closures and the failings at a number of primary schools.
This newspaper tried to speak to Cllr Wicks but he was unavailable.