Suspended head of child care resigns

JANET Donaldson, the council’s education director, has quit her £144,000-a-year post.

She was suspended from her job pending an investigation at the beginning of November, which followed ongoing criticism from Ofsted inspectors and auditors.

They were concerned about departmental failings in relation to child protection, which had left some children at “significant risk of harm” and the slow pace of improvement.

The council has been issued with an official Government notice to improve.

Chief executive Owen Williams told councillors and staff: “Janet Donaldson resigned from her position of director of children and young people’s services with immediate effect. The council’s employment committee has agreed to appoint Stuart Smith as the director for a period of three years.”

In the early 1990s, Mr Smith was one of Calderdale Council’s two deputy directors of education. For the past decade he has been director of education in Liverpool.

Mrs Donaldson started her career in nursery nursing, including spending a year in a primary school in Huddersfield before going on to qualify in social work.

She worked for councils in Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield, Barnsley and was executive director for children, young people and families in Oldham before the job was scrapped as part of a restructuring exercise.

She came to Calderdale in 2009 and within weeks described children’s social-care services as “unacceptable” and suspended some staff pending a thorough review of management practices. At the time she won plaudits for her approach with the-then portfolio holder Craig Whittaker praising her for taking “swift action to get to the heart of the issues.”

Mrs Donaldson was suspended just days after Pixley Clarke, the council’s head of children’s social care, unexpectedly parted company with the council, ending her £82,000-a-year contract.

There has been a considerable increase in the number of youngsters in council care – up from 324 in March to 363 by the end of September.

And the cost of looking after children who are at risk of harm and neglect has risen to £2.5 million more than expected.

The council has also struggled to recruit social workers and foster parents.