THURROCK Council’s portfolio holder for education is standing down.
Cllr Oliver Gerrish, who was responsible for the borough’s child social care and education for two years, said after a meeting of the council cabinet, where his departure was announced, he is resigning the post to focus on ward case work and on his job.
The announcement comes just weeks after Jo Olsson, who was director for people’s services at the council, left the authority to take up a new job in Camden.
The Conservative education spokesman, Cllr James Halden, welcomed the news, calling for an “education revolution” in Thurrock.
Under Cllr Gerrish’s leadership, the council received glowing Ofsted reports for safeguarding and looked after children and he oversaw a gradual improvement of primary schools in the borough.
But last year, Thurrock was placed in the bottom three nationally by Ofsted for the number of good or outstanding primary schools and the department was accused of overspending its budgets by nearly £3million.
Speaking after last week’s Cabinet meeting, Cllr Gerrish who is a ward councillor for West Thurrock and South Stifford said: “With a new role I’ve got at work, it means it’s not possible to do both things. It’s about making sure the balance is right and that I have time to be there for local residents.
“I hope to have left the child services in a good place. Our schools are moving from the lower quartile in performance to good or better. Improvements we’ve made are showing good results.
He added: “I’ve worked with a team team that is achieving fantastic things and I’m really proud of that.”
Cllr Halden wished Cllr Gerrish well, but said: “In the last three months we have seen a director go and a cabinet member go. Both insisted we were on the way up.
“This is to the backdrop of multi-million pound overspends and the third worst ratings for access to good primary schools in the nation.
“The only way to improve a problem is to admit a problem exists. “I’ve said it for over a year now and I’m saying it again, Thurrock needs a new start and to accept the state this department is in.
“It needs a new education revolution and to start freeing schools from the red tape of this council.”