Children's services director at Central Bedfordshire Council to leave the role this summer

Central Beds Council's headquarters in Chicksands.Central Beds Council's headquarters in Chicksands.
Central Beds Council's headquarters in Chicksands.
She’s taking up a job in Suffolk

A local authority in Bedfordshire has announced its to lose a second senior member of staff in a matter of weeks, the local democracy reporting service can confirm.

Sarah-Jane Smedmor is leaving her £145,000 to £150,000 post as director of Central Bedfordshire Council’s children’s services after two years.

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In an email to staff, CBC chief executive Marcel Coiffait revealed that Ms Smedmor “is moving on to progress her career at a bigger council, closer to her home”.

She plans to take up the role of executive director of children and young people services at Suffolk County Council.

Mr Coiffait said: “While I’m very sorry that she’s leaving us, I understand the opportunity presented to her by the job in Suffolk.

“I think we can be proud to have enabled her to flourish in her first director of children’s services role. In return, I know she’ll leave us with our services in a better place than when she started with a clear plan now in place for further improvement.”

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Ms Smedmor’s arrival from Dorset Council to replace Sue Harrison was announced by CBC in May 2022 to a position earning the fourth largest salary within the local authority.

Ms Harrison left to become executive director for education and skills at Birmingham City Council.

Mr Coiffait explained: “The role of a children’s service director is a challenging one. A high demand for services is set against a challenging financial backdrop.

“I would like to wholeheartedly thank Sarah-Jane for all her hard work and commitment to Central Bedfordshire, and to our children and their families. The work of children’s services is of paramount importance, of course.

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“The recent Ofsted focused visit looking at our social work practice will confirm under Sarah-Jane’s leadership we’ve provided ‘dynamic, sensitive and effective support to our most vulnerable children and families’.

“Sarah-Jane has set us on the right path to keep up the improvements in our services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). She’ll be with us until July, and I know will continue to deliver the very best services for our residents.

“Details about recruitment or interim arrangements will be shared in due course. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Sarah-Jane well in her next step and in supporting children’s services through this change.”

CBC’s children’s services department has been under pressure after a critical Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in November 2019.

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Their report highlighted significant areas of weakness in the local area’s SEND provision, with a written statement of action requested from CBC and BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group.

Parents criticised the slow pace of change, despite the impact of the pandemic across local authority services.

Deputy chief executive and director of resources at CBC Charles Warboys plans to retire in June from his £155,000 to £160,000 role.