Paul Greenhalgh, one of Croydon Council’s most senior executives, is to retire from his job in Fisher’s Folly this summer.
Aged 61, Greenhalgh will step down from his £170,000 per year position as “Executive Director, People” at the end of July, undoubtedly taking advantage of the redundancy terms currently on offer at the council.
Greenhalgh joined Croydon five years ago, having previously worked in a similar post at Southend in Essex. “I’m looking to my personal future and the other things that I would like to do with my life before I become too old to do so,” he said in an official council statement issued this morning.
But the announcement of his retirement comes within a fortnight of the latest report critical of Croydon schools’ performances on Greenhalgh’s watch.
Greenhalgh’s department, previously known as “children, families and learning”, was subject to a reshuffle last April under the council’s new chief executive Nathan Elvery.
The outcome, as far as the borough’s schools are concerned, is little changed, with senior councillors openly critical of the performance of Greenhalgh and his department. In the statement released this morning to announce Greenhalgh’s departure, there was no valedictory remarks from council leader Tony Newman or any elected councillors.
It was Greenhalgh who was forced to apologise to parents for the scandal – first reported by Inside Croydon – of the council charging thousands of pounds for their children’s remedial reading lessons. It was later discovered that Greenhalgh’s department had failed to keep adequate records of who was charged, and so limiting its ability to make refunds of some of the illegal lesson fees.
This month, in an official report to the council cabinet about the borough’s primary schools, it was noted that “there is too wide a gap between our highest and lowest performing schools”.
The report also said: “There are a number of Croydon schools currently graded as good by Ofsted but where we have concerns about pupil outcomes.”
While the number of Croydon primary schools rated “good” or “outstanding” after Ofsted visits has risen from 64 per cent to 90 per cent, the borough’s primary pupils remain behind the national and London averages at Key Stage 2. The disparity between inspection and exam results in Croydon’s schools has been flagged up by Ofsted.
Today, though, Greenhalgh’s boss, Elvery, was at pains to ease his colleague’s way towards the exit door as soothingly as possible, using excruciating Councilspeak.
“Paul has been working closely with me over the last few years to create a vision for a People based department, bring that vision to life and to tangibly demonstrate that this vision can change the lives of our residents for the better.”
See what we mean?
Elvery continued: “As we know from recent Select Committee visits this is seen as the future model for local government, we also know there remains significant opportunity for our organisation and our partners to further embed this whole system approach into the very fabric of our organisation to achieve the outcomes we have identified in our Independence Strategy.”
Does anyone know what Elvery means?
“We also recognise that any change at a senior level potentially creates a degree of uncertainty and therefore we have agreed to announce this now and work closely together over the next six months so that everyone is clear on the key priorities which Paul will continue to lead and the handover arrangements for a new Executive Director. This will ensure a smooth and planned transition and I would like to thank Paul for his professionalism and passion for Croydon in helping to navigate what otherwise might be a more challenging change to our Executive Leadership.
“There will be plenty of time for all of us to say goodbye and wish Paul a happy and long retirement but for now and for the record I would just like to say a huge thank you to Paul for his wisdom, guidance, support and advice since I have been Chief Executive.”
In a statement released to staff on the council’s intranet, Greenhalgh said, “It’s been a privilege working with you all across our various partnerships for our communities in Croydon over the past five years. During that time much has been achieved by us all, with some significant areas of improvement and successful changes to enable us to respond more appropriately and effectively in the changing context in which we work.”
Like Elvery, Greenhalgh, too, is fluent in Councilspeak: “Over a short time the People’s Department has done much to move towards a more holistic and preventative response for key groups of people, has strengthened its approach to demand management and has strengthened its input to our partnership working, particularly in children’s safeguarding and the integration of health and care, especially for the 0-5s and the over 65s.”
He must be an absolute hoot when a guest at dinner parties.
“There remains much to do, but the early work of the People Department is promising and demonstrates improving capacity for the council to work with partners to help improve the lives of local people.”
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