Sunderland City Council has appointed Alex Hopkins as Chief Executive of the new company being set up to steer forward children's services in the city.

Alex joins the council from Northamptonshire County Council where he is currently Director of Children's Services. There he led on the complete transformation of children's services which earlier this month were found by Ofsted to be improved across all areas.

Sunderland City Council's Cabinet agreed in April to establish a company to deliver children's services on behalf of the council.

In his new role Alex will be responsible for running a brand new organisation charged with delivering the highest quality services, including children's social care, education and early help services, as well as the infrastructure needed to run fully integrated children's services.

The City Council has been working closely with Nick Whitfield, the Commissioner for Children's Services since last July's Ofsted report to look at how it can do things differently to ensure the best possible service for children and families.

A huge amount of work has been done since then to improve safeguarding including £16m further investment to strengthen management and support including additional frontline staff. 

Commenting on the appointment, Councillor Paul Watson, the Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "We're delighted to have appointed Alex to this very important new role. He has a proven track record, having played an instrumental role in transforming children's services in Northamptonshire and we are very much looking forward to working with him.

"We believe the new organisation with Alex at its helm will be a real step forward in delivering the services our children and young people need to live safe, happy, healthy and successful lives."

Nick Whitfield added: "Alex's success in leading the transformation in Northamptonshire has resulted in Ofsted recently finding improvement across all areas and I believe he has the ability to truly transform children's services in Sunderland."

Alex, whose role will initially sit within the council ahead of the transfer of services to the new company, will take up his post in July.

Irene Lucas CBE, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, said: "This appointment is an important step in completing the new team that will steer forward the improvement of children's services in Sunderland which is a key priority for the City Council."

Alex said: "I'm very much looking forward to taking up my new role in Sunderland and I can't wait to join the team and be part of the work to improve the lives of children and families in the city."

In his new role, Alex will lead a newly created senior management structure. Simon Marshall is the recently appointed Director of Education Services, Debra Patterson, Director of Children's Social Care and Suzanne Carty, Director for Quality Assurance and Performance.

Simon was previously headteacher of Highfield Primary School in Sunderland which was rated outstanding by Ofsted, Debra joins from Gateshead Council and Suzanne from North Yorkshire County Council both of which have been rated good by Ofsted.

A report to Cabinet in June will look at the governance, structure and scope of services for the new organisation, with a view to it being set up in shadow form from September 2016, before becoming an organisation in its own right next April.