Birmingham City Council’s children’s services boss has announced his retirement.
Tony Howell, the authority’s strategic director for children, young people and families, said he would retire in January 2011, when he will be 60.
While the proportion of pupils at city schools gaining five or more good-grade GCSEs has risen from 45% to 73% since Mr Howell joined the authority in 2002, it has also been subject to government intervention over its safeguarding - most recently attracting criticism over its involvement in the tragic death of Khyra Ishaq.
Chief executive Stephen Hughes said Mr Howell had been “an asset” to the city and had played a vital role in driving up educational standards.
“He has also shown a real vision in how children’s services need to be provided in the future with a greater focus on early intervention and preventative work,” he said.
“The bringing together of education and children’s social care has presented huge challenges to all local authorities and particularly an authority of this size.
“We have recognised the aspects of children’s social care needing attention and are totally committed to improving them.
“The search now begins to find someone to continue our improvement drive across the whole of children’s services.”
Mr Howell said that as Europe’s largest urban authority Birmingham presented “huge challenges to public services” but insisted it also offered “fantastic opportunities to make a difference”.
“I have really enjoyed working with the young people of this city and appreciate the hard work and support of the whole of the children’s workforce during the last eight-and-a-half-years,” he said.
Mr Howell became deputy chief education officer at the authority in January 2002, and then chief in October the same year. He became strategic director for children, young people, and families in April 2006.