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Birmingham children's services takeover warning

Children's services at Birmingham City Council could be taken over by the Department for Education before Christmas if standards do not improve.

The takeover will happen if Ofsted inspectors do not see improvements when they return later this month.

The department is the biggest of its kind in England and has been rated as "inadequate" for four years.

Department head Peter Hay said the city council had to be involved in its running but there were no easy answers.

There have been a number of high-profile child deaths in Birmingham in recent years, including those of Khyra Ishaq in 2008 and Keanu Williams in 2011.

Rebecca Shuttleworth is serving a life sentence for murdering Keanu after he was found with 37 injuries at his home in Ward End, Birmingham in January 2011. A serious case review concluded last month there were "a number of significant missed opportunities" to save the two-year-old.

Birmingham children's services has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted since 2009.

Mr Hay, who took over as head of the department in July, said shortly after starting that improvements had not been made and he could not guarantee the safety of children in the city.

Last month Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said the city's failure to protect vulnerable children was a "national disgrace".

For more on this story and related articles, please see the BBC News website.

[Text © 2013 BBC News]