May 26 2013 Latest news:
by Stephen Moore
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Cllr Lorna Reith, Haringey Council’s deputy leader who has overseen Haringey’s children’s and education services for the last three years, has resigned from her cabinet roles.
Cllr Reith will remain in the posts until the cabinet reshuffle next week - but has counted herself out of reselection. She will remain a councillor for Tottenham Hale ward.
Critics claimed she has left Haringey’s primary schools “in crisis” and an education system “threatened by the lack of action,” referring to a slow rate of improvement in achievement and the government’s involvement in forcing primary schools to become academies - but last summer’s GCSE and A-Level results were the best on record.
She has overseen the turnaround of the council’s children’s services department, which was taken out of ‘special measures’ by the government in February, after a long haul back from the nadir of Baby P.
She plans to take on extra commitments as a Local Government Association member peer.
Cllr Reith said: “I’m proud of what we have achieved over the past three years and believe I am leaving the children’s service in much stronger shape than it has been for a long time.
“The quality of our safeguarding procedures and practice mean that we can be confident that children in Haringey are better protected.
“We have made progress in education and I know that further improvements in our schools and our service remain a key priority for the council.”
Council Leader Cllr Claire Kober said the council is “very grateful” for Cllr Reith’s work, adding: “Lorna came into the position at an extremely difficult time and she has devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to leading major improvements in the children’s service.
“Last year’s exam results and the fact that the children’s services department has been taken out of special measures are in no small part down to Lorna’s leadership and are testament to her hard work.
“I have enjoyed working alongside Lorna and am personally grateful to her for her commitment and loyalty.”
But Cllr Katherine Reece, the Liberal Democrat shadow children’s spokesperson, said Haringey had “not seen significant improvement” in education on Cllr Reith’s reign.
“The borough’s standards of education have been threatened by the lack of action by the council to improve schools. The government has been forced to intervene to turn around four local primary schools deemed, by Ofsted, to be failing. This failure has been on Labour and Cllr Reith’s watch.
“Cllr Reith leaves Haringey’s primary schools in crisis and there remain allegations of serious shortcomings in child safeguarding - this is not a legacy to be proud of.”
But a Haringey Labour Group spokesman called it “deeply irresponsible for the Lib Dems to talk of serious shortcomings in current safeguarding when all recent reports have clearly and unmistakably stated this is not the case”.
Cllr Reith added: “One of the things I am so angry about with the Lib Dems is that I see safeguarding as something that is the responsibility of all councillors in the borough, and anything that suggests that people should not have confidence in the service of the borough, or makes them reluctant to contact us when there is a child they are concerned about, undermines that.”