Joanna Cassey has been appointed as the new interim Managing Director of Cognus, Sutton Council’s education services provider.

Authorities confirmed Fiona Phelps, who is the current acting Managing Director will be moving back into her full time post at Sutton Council as Assistant Director Education and SEND.

The change in leadership follows years of concern over Sutton's educational needs and disability services - which has previously been highlighted by both parents and Ofsted.

In March 2018, a joint letter from the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted raised ‘significant concerns’ about special needs services in the borough.

In August 2019, it was announced that after two-and-a half-years, Tracey Burley the head of Cognus was stepping down.

The departure which created some uncertainty over the Summer, saw the Chair of the board of Cognus, Ian Comfort, request that Fiona Phelps would manage the company on "a short-term basis" from October 2019.

New interim Managing Director Joanna, will be joining Cognus from Buckinghamshire County Council and will work closely with Fiona to ensure a "smooth transition" to build on progress and integration across the borough.

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Councillor Marian James, Chair of the People Committee at Sutton Council, said: "Huge thanks go to Fiona for her leadership of Cognus over the past 11 months. I welcome Joanna to Sutton and to her new role.

"I look forward to her carrying on and developing the improvements made by Fiona and partners.

"Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 as we enter a new school year, we remain ambitious that Cognus and Sutton Council will continue to provide good services for our children and young people."

Ian Comfort, Chair of Cognus said:“We are extremely grateful to Fiona for her continued service and leadership of Cognus over the past year.

"Joanna’s appointment comes at the start of a new school year and we are excited about the potential for her to build on recent successes to strengthen the delivery of work in Sutton.

"On behalf of the board and all of the staff at Cognus we want to welcome Joanna.”