An interim director has been appointed for the council’s children’s services company.

Eleni Ioannides started her RBC role, seconded to BFfC as part of the executive leadership team, on February 26.

She is expected to be in the post for around six months until a permanent director is appointed.

The new interim director appeared in Brighter Futures for Children’s (BFfC) Business Plan for last night’s Policy committee meeting

Details on her role can also be found on the BFfC website and the Reading Borough Council (RBC) website list of senior officers.

BFfC was set up after a damning Ofsted report in 2016 stated that children were being left at ‘acute risk’. Previous director Stephen Kitcham resigned just two months after the company launched and six months after joining the council.

A RBC spokesman said: “As executive director of children’s services for Bury Metropolitan Borough Council, Ms Ioannides took its children’s social care from the brink of intervention to ‘performing well’ within two years.

“During her nine years at the authority, she also saw GCSE performance improve considerably, the number of first-time offenders decrease and a reduction in the number of young people not in education, employment or training.

“Ms Ioannides also won a national award for a partnership project to help children affected by their parents’ drug or alcohol abuse.

“Since leaving Bury in 2011, Ms Ioannides has specialised in helping a number of local authorities’ children’s services with their improvement journeys, including Croydon, Wakefield, Walsall, Doncaster and Middlesbrough.

“It is essential that improvements to Reading’s Children’s Services keep moving forward and Miss Ioannides has a proven track record of delivering results.”

Ms Ioannides was appointed as interim director at other struggling children’s services including Birmingham City Council (BCC), Croydon Council, Middlesbrough Council, Knowsley Council and Warrington Borough Council.

Ms Ioannides retired in 2011, after working for Bury Council for eight years, becoming the local authority’s first executive director for children’s services in 2005.

Children’s Services staff received national acclaim in 2009, when Bury Council’s Holding Families project received a Municipal Journal award for Best Achievement in Children’s Services.

Ms Ioannides took over a failing BCC children’s services in 2014 for four months in an interim role, following similar roles at Knowsley and Warrington.

BBC’s children’s services were rated ‘inadequate’ from 2008 to this year, when it finally improved.

During Ms Ioannides tenure at Middlesbrough Council, children’s services were described by Ofsted as a ‘serious cause for concern’ and having ‘fundamental weaknesses’

She then undertook interim roles  at Walsall, Wakefield and Croydon Council.

Croydon’s provision for children with disabilities and special educational needs were described by government inspectors as having ‘widespread and serious failures’ eight months before she joined.

The first Ofsted report under her leadership, in August 2018, found children were left in ‘neglectful circumstances’ for too long.

A second report, in October – her last month in the role – found some improvement but that staff were ‘demoralised’.

BFfC’s business plan was approved at Policy Committee, on Monday April 10, with councillor Rob White the only councillor voting against it.

He said he would ‘continue to keep an eye’ on the children’s services company.

BFfC need to make savings of £11.4m over the next three years to help the authority balance its budget.

Deborah Jenkins, chairman of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “We have an extremely challenging plan. We are very positive about it. If we achieve it that will be a major milestone.”