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Judith Pettersen took a wealth of experience to her new role as a director of children's services and lifelong lear...
Judith Pettersen took a wealth of experience to her new role as a director of children's services and lifelong learning as seen in LGC, says Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

Judith Pettersen,Director of children's services and lifelong learning, Hounslow LBC

Advertised June 2006

Started work November 2006

Reports to Chief executive


Qualified Ofsted inspector

Masters in educational psychology

Biggest challenge

'Managing the range and complexity of services with a restricted budget.'

Experience includes

Interim consultant, Camden LBC

Corporate head of children and young people's services, Wokingham DC

Deputy director of education and cultural services, Wokingham DC

Head of children and young people's services, Wokingham DC

Best part of the role

'It's rewarding working towards integration knowing it can have a positive impact on children's lives.'

What is your new job?

I am director of children's services and lifelong learning at Hounslow LBC.

Describe your main responsibilities

I am responsible for the children's services agenda in Hounslow. This

includes the leadership of a large and complicated council department, the leadership of the broader partnership of all the agencies across the voluntary, community and other sectors, and all of the services that are provided for children, young people and their families including lifelong learning provision. Hounslow has 53,000 children and young people. There are 5,000 staff under my management and I line manage four assistant directors. My gross budget is£242m.

What attracted you to the role?

I believe absolutely that the integration of children's services is the right way to go and I'm committed to making sense of service provision for children and families in a way that historically hasn't happened.

Why do you think you got the job?

I had some experience of the integration agenda and a vision for the service. And I am very passionate about the integration of children's services.

What is a typical day?

Part of the endless fascination of my role is that no day is typical. But it's fair to say I spend a lot of my time in meetings and visits - so I can move from a large corporate or strategic discussion to a complicated individual

case discussion. Visits are important to me, I try and make sure that I go out and meet people at a lot of our centres and facilities so I understand what is happening on the ground. I am also trying to take up opportunities to talk to young

people, to understand their needs and champion services for them.

What's best about the job and what are the biggest challenges?

It's really rewarding working towards integration knowing the changes that happen can have a really positive impact on children's lives. Most challenging is managing the range and complexity of services that I have with a restricted budget.

How is it going?

We have re-established our partnership and broadened it slightly, so there is a greater level of engagement with the children's agenda. We have also completely rewritten our strategic plan for the partnership.

What one thing would help you to do your job better?

More resources would make a big difference.

What advice might you have for others looking for a similar role?

This is the sort of job that is in the back of your mind 24 hours every day - which I don't mind because I find it fulfilling and deeply fascinating. But if you're the sort of person that can't tolerate this, then the job would be very difficult. It isn't the sort of job that can be put down at the end of the day. There isn't anything of the overall environment that you experience that doesn't leave you making connections with the job.

How do you think your type of role might develop in the future?

While the job of integrating children's services has been given to local

authorities, one of the unresolved issues is what happens to health services for children. The view of central government is that we ought to be bringing this provision under our management but the legal and financial framework for this is

very complicated.

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