Jenny Coles announced as new Chair of Trustees

09 June 2021

What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) is pleased to announce that Jenny Coles, who is retiring as Hertfordshire’s Director of Children’s Services, will replace Sir Alan Wood as the charity’s Chair of Trustees.

Jenny Coles will formally become Chair of Trustees at the WWCSC Trustee’s Meeting on Wednesday 9 June. Coles brings a wealth of experience to the role, having qualified as a social worker in Luton in 1986 and worked to improve children’s service in Hertfordshire for more than a decade as Director of Children’s Services. She has worked extensively in children’s safeguarding, looked after children and quality assurance, and has also managed integrated youth and youth justice services and Special Educational Needs and Disability. Coles recently completed her term as President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, having led the organisation through the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. She will retire from her role as Director of Children’s Services at Hertfordshire County Council in August 2021. Coles replaces the Founding Chair, Sir Alan Wood, who is standing down after his three year term.

Coles is joined by four new trustees – Beverley Barnett-Jones, Lucy Butler, Lauren McCann and Steve Walker – expanding the WWCSC Board of Trustees to 12.

Beverley Barnett-Jones is the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory’s Associate Director for System and Impact. Barnett-Jones is a registered social worker and has worked on the frontline of children’s social care for 30 years, undertaking a variety of social work practice and management roles in local authority and family court settings. Always committed to making research count, she has spent the last few years bringing research and evidence into the design and development of new services to improve the help and support offered to children and families.

Lucy Butler is an experienced Director of Children’s Services. Currently the Executive Director of Children, Young People and Learning at West Sussex County Council, she has over 25 years’ experience working in the adult and children’s services sector. Prior to joining West Sussex in April 2020, Butler spent nine years at Oxfordshire County Council, most recently as the Director of Children’s Services. She is passionate about leadership and helped to found Oxfordshire Women’s Leadership, a women’s leadership group, and is chair of the Staff College, an organisation promoting strong leadership in the sector. Butler is also the co-chair of the South-East Region of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.

Lauren McCann is General Counsel and Monitoring Officer for the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames. She qualified as a solicitor in 2009 and has spent much of her career in local government organisations with social care responsibilities. McCann has significant expertise in the law relating to child protection, with particular focus on Child Sexual Exploitation, cases involving international issues, and the law relating to Asylum Seeking Children. She is passionate about working with organisations that can make a tangible difference to communities, and particularly for securing good outcomes for children, young people and their families

Steve Walker is the Director of the Leeds Relational Practice Centre, which delivers Leeds’ sector-led improvement support, including Partners in Practice and Family Valued Programmes. Walker joined Leeds in 2011 as the Deputy Director for safeguarding, specialist and targeted services, and became Director in October 2016 before moving to his current role in 2020. He started his career as a social worker in Glasgow in 1984. In addition to his experience as a practitioner, manager and senior leader, Walker was a Research Fellow at Royal Holloway College, University of London, where he developed a range of materials to support social work practice.

Dr Michael Sanders, Chief Executive, What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:

“We’ve unbelievably lucky to be joined by our new trustees who bring a wealth of experience from across the sector and a huge diversity of points of view to the board. I’m excited to be working with Jenny Coles, whose experience both at Hertfordshire and at ADCS will add hugely to the quality of our thinking and engagement with the sector. ”

Jenny Coles, Chair of Trustees, What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:
“I am really pleased to be following Sir Alan Wood as Chair of WWWSC. To work alongside Michael Sanders, the WWCSC team and trustees, building on all the positive progress the Centre has made, is a great opportunity.“

Sir Alan Wood, out-going Chair of Trustees, What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:
“I am delighted that Jenny Coles has been appointed to succeed me as Chair of the WWCSC. She has been a national leader promoting the case for excellence in social work practice, and an ambassador for better evidence of the impact social workers have on children and families. She will guide the WWCSC to provide the evidence which is so important in informing the outcome of the current independent review of children’s social care the outcome of which is of great importance to so many children and families in England. “