Odgers Interim appoints top talent to lead London Borough of Lewisham’s children’s services
Nik Shah, our Local Government Consultant, talks to Lucie Heyes, London Borough of Lewisham’s Director of Children’s Social Care, about the appointment of three Heads of Children’s Services
We recently helped appoint three new heads of service to lead Lewisham’s children’s social care division. All three candidates were recruited during the same campaign as part of the borough’s journey of improvement for children’s social care and come at a time when there is a national shortfall of proven leaders in children’s services. Together they constitute half of the London Borough of Lewisham’s children’s social care leadership team.
Sean Maguire will govern all aspects of MASH and lead the assessment & young people’s safeguarding teams. Alongside him will be Rebecca Hare, leading the family social work branch, overseeing the areas of children in need, child protection and proceedings. Heading up corporate parenting will be Michele Henry, managing looked after, leaving care & fostering teams.
These are critical positions for the local authority and each head of service will supervise two to three operational group managers, who themselves manage multiple teams. All three heads of service will report into Lucie Heyes, London Borough of Lewisham’s director of children’s social care.
Commenting on the appointments, Lucie told me: “Giving Lewisham’s children the best start in life is a top priority for the council. As our recent Ofsted inspection confirmed, we have a lot of work to do before we can say with confidence that we are delivering consistently good services to children, young people and their families. We are at the early stages of an extensive improvement programme which is already making an impact and we need a senior leadership team that is not only capable but is also courageous and compassionate. Sean, Rebecca and Michele demonstrated the right skills, knowledge and experience but equally as important, their philosophy of practice matched our vision and values. Together, with the rest of our team we will be in a strong position to continue improving the prospects for children, young people and families. Things in Lewisham are changing fast and our new leadership appointments are another important milestone on our improvement journey.”
Sean, Rebecca and Michele are rising stars of the children’s social care space. Not only are they high-calibre leaders but they displayed a shared belief in social work that was aligned to the values in Lewisham’s children’s social care improvement plan. Importantly, Lewisham’s vision for the future – which is being driven by Lucie – pulls no punches when it comes to the challenges in improving children’s social care and all three candidates demonstrated a tenacity and determination to make this vision a reality.
Lewisham is a diverse and vibrant borough home to 68,000 children, 60% of which are from minority ethnic groups. At any one time children’s social care in Lewisham is working with approximately 2,300 children and young people, including children with complex needs.
Commenting on Odgers Interim’s recruitment process, Lucie said: “The Government Practice at Odgers Interim provided a tailored service, they paid attention to the kind of leaders I was looking for and put forward candidates they knew would be a good fit, providing us with a strong and representative field. The shortlisted candidates were a diverse group of professionals mirroring the demographic of our community and workforce”.