Interview with Lesley Hagger, Director for Children, Families and Education - Northamptonshire County Council
I’m Lesley Hagger, the new Director for children, Families and Education at Northamptonshire County Council. I have the statutory role as Director for Children’s Services which includes responsibility for good outcomes for all children in the county. Together with the Lead Member it is also my job is to ensure that children are safeguarded and that I establish a culture of challenge and scrutiny to improve our practice. At the time of writing I’ve been in post for 15 days!
Q. What got you into safeguarding/child protection in the first place?
A. My own life chances were made possible by excellent professionals who went the extra mile for me and my family and so I have an in-built personal need to pay back, but my first route in was when I became a youth worker in the early 1980s. Since then I’ve taken lots of opportunities to experience a number of different roles, including working on the Every Child Matters agenda at the DfES just before Children’s Services were legislated for in 2004. This job role was probably the first time that I had really described my work as safeguarding.
Q. What are the different things you do in the role?
A. It’s really broad ranging – so, my day yesterday involved meeting with Andrea Leadsom MP to talk about early years and attachment; going to meet young people and staff at one of our children’s homes; having a 121 meeting with one of the Assistant Directors; writing reports; answering Councillor enquiries; looking at our performance data; reading the new consultation on health visiting; starting to develop the strategic plan for the new Children’s Trust and, of course, getting through the emails!
Q. What do you do enjoy most about your role?
A. Spending time getting to know our children and young people. It’s really easy when you move through the hierarchy to lose touch with the reason why you started to work in this sector so I work really hard to protect time in my diary to spend with the children and young people that we are here to support. Seeing their successes is the best feeling ever.
Q. What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?
A. That’s such a difficult question to answer…
Probably leaving my previous job in Leicestershire, where I had worked as an Assistant Director for 8 years and Director for 3 and a half years. I had worked very hard, with some fantastic people, to make good things happen and it was hard to leave that behind in order to take up my current role. But now it’s time to work very hard with fantastic people to make good things happen here!
Q. What are your aims for the next 12 months?
A. I’ve got four clear objectives:
- To stabilise and grow a superb workforce;
- To continue the improvement journey so that our services are good;
- To ensure that the department responds positively to the Council’s budget challenges;
- To establish the Children’s Trust.
It’s only day 15 so I haven’t got everything planned yet (!) but achieving these objectives is my aim.
Q. Who do you rely on when things get tough?
A. Well, I think in this sort of role you have to be supremely resilient as lots of people are relying on you to do the right thing, particularly at those tough times, but I prefer to be very collaborative and so will always work with those around me to find solutions. I’m completely supportive of coaching and mentoring (and have a Level 7 qualification in it myself) and so always look for that from people outside of the workforce – usually my friend that I swim with on Friday nights who is also a qualified coach and mentor; goodness knows why she still does that with me every week!
Last updated: 12 August 2016