Announcement: New Chief Executive Appointment

After just over three years at the helm of The Staff College, it’s with great sadness that we share the news that our Principal, Jo Davidson, plans to step down from her role in the summer.

Jo has overseen an incredible transformation in her time at The Staff College, which has seen the team, associates, and most importantly, the impact the college has had on public services, grow & develop.

While Jo is stepping down, in her own words, she’s actively avoiding using the ‘R’ (retirement!) word, and looks forward to continuing her work at The Staff College as an associate.

Of course, this means that we’re set to welcome a new leader of The Staff College, and we’re incredibly excited to share that we have made an appointment:

Introducing Jane Parfrement, new Chief Executive of The Staff College.

Jane is the current Executive Director of Children’s Services for Derbyshire County Council and will be joining The Staff College in the early Autumn, following the important job of handing the reins over at Derbyshire. Jane has almost 30 years of experience in the children’s services sector and has been a senior leader across a range of local authorities. She has been the Executive Director in Derbyshire for 5 years and is the regional DCS chair in the East Midlands.

We’re looking forward to welcoming Jane and supporting her as she steers us into a new phase of creating and supporting Children’s Services and other public services leaders of the future.

Jo gave us a glimpse into what’s next for her, and welcomed Jane into her new role as Chief Executive:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the past three years and am proud of the way in which the College has developed and flourished.  

This has been possible through the amazing staff team, the associate leads and increasing network of creative associates and partners, who have helped to build on the strong foundations of the College and VSC Plus.  

As well as continuing some associate work with the College, I’m also going to be involved in some local community shop and community hub and will continue as a Trustee for Rural Media.

I’m incredibly pleased that Jane will be taking up the role of Chief Executive. She’ll be an incredible force in taking The Staff College to its next phase, and I look forward to watching the organisation continue to make a difference not only in Children’s Services leadership but also leaders in other aspects of public services.”

Current Chair of The Staff College’s Board of Director’s, Lucy Butler (Executive Director of Children, Young People & Learning for West Sussex) is looking forward to welcoming Jane to the team:

“The last three years have been a period of growth for the College and I am grateful to Jo for her vision and leadership throughout this time. We will miss her greatly but we wish her well for the future. 

I am absolutely delighted to welcome Jane to the post of Chief Executive, she comes with a wealth of experience, real passion and energy  and I am really looking forward to working with her, the team and our Board on the next chapter of the Staff College.”

And finally, we asked our new Chief Executive, Jane, to share her thoughts following her appointment:

“I am delighted to have been appointed to the role of Chief Executive and want to pay tribute to Jo for all she has done in taking The Staff College forward under her leadership . I also want to thank my current colleagues in Derbyshire and the East Midlands for their support over the years. It has been a privilege to work with some extraordinarily talented and committed colleagues both in the council and across our partner organisations.

I look forward to bringing the skills and experience I have gained throughout my years in children’s services to The Staff College and to playing this role in developing the leaders of the future.”

It’s with great excitement that we look ahead to Jane joining the team, also once again thanking Jo for her continued support in the months ahead.

Related Articles


Just Home: Leading in Colour

We are proud to announce the release of our latest publication, “Just Home”. This briefing is powerfully centred around global majority children in care, their lives, their traumas, their needs, and their life-chances. The stark realities are alarming: black children are over-represented in the care system, wait longer for adoption than white children, and are least likely to achieve the lifetime stability and permanency of a loving family through adoption. “Just Home” serves to challenge these bleak statistics and seeks to inspire enduring policy and practice changes for children. Through our partnership with Adoption East Midlands and its partner local authorities, we have been able to challenge these sobering facts and seek solutions. “Just Home” is our shared story –…


A study of place-based school partnerships At The Staff College, we have been committed to championing excellence through equity in education since our inception in 1999. We believe that addressing the needs of those who find learning and socialisation most difficult benefits the entire school community. This belief, combined with our fundamental belief that children and young people learn best when they feel valued, respected and included, has guided our school improvement work. However, recent policy changes in England towards market forces and school autonomy have the potential to further disadvantage learners from economically poorer backgrounds and other vulnerable, isolated and marginalised groups. To address this challenge, we commissioned a study by researchers at the University of Manchester. The resulting…

Podcast Rosemary Campbell-Stephens on Decolonising Narratives around Race in Educational Leadership

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Leading for Longer: New report issues call to action on high turnover of leadership roles in children’s services

A call for action has been issued by The Staff College after a number of concerns have been raised about the high turnover of leadership roles within children’s services.  With tenures of DCSs averaging around three years, it is feared this is having a direct impact on the ability to improve children’s services. At present, the DCS role remains one of the hardest chief officer roles to fill and retain, yet is a critical leadership role responsible for supporting and protecting vulnerable children across the United Kingdom.  Some of the key reasons cited for the high level of position churn include increased workloads, along with a lack of a coherent policy focus on children. In addition, an ‘overload’ of external…

Systems Leadership – Exceptional Leadership for Exceptional Times

Download the Story of BALI

Three people designed the Black and Asian Leadership Initiative (BALI): Patrick Scott who worked for the predecessor organisation that is now The Staff College; Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE who is now a freelance international consultant and coach on leadership, following her role as Principal for the National College for Educational Leadership in the Ministry of Education, Jamaica and me (Meera). Rosemary was an associate with the National College for School Leadership in the UK and I had, due to long term health issues, retired from my role as Director of Children’s Services. I have over 35 years experience in local government and was an HMI in the London region.