Islington’s education chief announces he’s stepping down
- Credit: Archant
Islington’s education chief has announced he’s stepping down after nearly six years in the job.
Cllr Joe Caluori will bow out as education boss next month as he prepares for the new challenge of becoming deputy director of The Smith Institute, an education-orientated think tank founded by former Labour leader John Smith.
Cllr Calouri, who will continue on as Labour’s Mildmay ward representative, singled out improvements in Islington’s schools and youth offending service, as well as the new Bright Start programme, which supports “families from pregnancy to a child’s fifth birthday”, as being among his proudest achievements in the job.
“I feel a lot has been achieved,” he told the Gazette. “There has been a lot of hard times – the youth crime and gang issues we have had have been really difficult and distressing for the community.
“But we have managed to keep all the children’s centres open, we have not closed any youth centres, our young offenders service is much better than it was and our integrated gangs team is a really good model for best practice.
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“So I’m really proud of what we have done but it’s a good time for someone else to come on.”
He’s also played a leading role in lobbying the government to create a national strategy for combatting county lines operations, where young people are groomed to traffic class A drugs into rural and seaside areas.
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Islington’s children’s boss believes the Fair Futures commission, an independent youth-led initiative which put policy suggestions to council chiefs, all of which were accepted, provides the perfect framework for his successor to build upon.
In a letter announcing his resignation, Cllr Caluori told his 46 Labour colleagues the leadership role “has been the most enjoyable and meaningful professional or political role I have ever held”.
He added: “It has genuinely changed the course of my life and I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the community in this way.”
The outgoing education chief also joked that his new role at the The Smith Institute shouldn’t be confused with the better known Adam Smith Institute, named after the classical liberal thinker favoured by Thatcherites.
Cllr Caluori went on to praise “progress made by the poorest pupils” under his tenure against a backdrop of “hostile government policy on academisation, free schools and budget cuts”.
“I will support my successor in any way needed,” he said. “I look forward to holding the leadership to account from the backbenches.”
Islington Council leader Cllr Richard Watts said: “I want to place on the record my sincere thanks and gratitude to Joe for all the work he has done in his six years on the executive.
“Joe has helped transform Islington schools’ performance, radically improved critical parts of Children’s Services and has led national campaign efforts on issues ranging from opposing forced academisation to pushing the County Lines drug network up the national agenda.
“I wish Joe all the best in his new role, and look forward to continuing to work with him to make Islington a fairer place for all in his capacity as a local councillor for Mildmay.”