Success of children’s champion brings call from Down Under

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CHILDREn’S services boss at Sheffield Council, Dr Sonia Sharp, is set to move more than 10,000 miles – after being headhunted for a senior government role in Victoria, Australia.

One of Dr Sharp’s first tasks will be to establish multi-agency support teams, similar to those she set up in Sheffield.

The teams are said to have “significantly” improved child safety, health and early learning across the city.

A spokesman for Sheffield Council said yesterday that an announcement will be made “at a future date” about replacing Dr Sharp in her role of executive director of children, young people and families.

Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “Sonia’s appointment to such a high profile and influential role is a testament to how Sheffield’s children, young people and families services have come to be viewed nationally and internationally under her leadership.

“In this time we have been seen as having some of the best practice in the country for our efforts in tackling child literacy levels and seen outcomes improve for our children and young people in countless areas.

“This has ranged from excellent school achievements, an increase in the number of schools rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, to the robust systems we now have in place to keep children safe.

“I would like to offer Sonia my very great thanks for her efforts over the last few years and I wish her all the very best of luck.”

Council leader Julie Dore added: “This is a great move for Sonia and I am very pleased for her but it also reflects well for the city.”

Before taking on the executive director role in 2008, Dr Sharp held senior positions at authorities in Rotherham, Leeds and Birmingham.

Her background is in educational psychology and she currently advises the government on issues such as vulnerable children and children’s health.

She said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Sheffield and I feel we have achieved a huge amount to ensure the city’s children and young people achieve their potential.”