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From Derby to IMPOWER – my transition

Pauline Melvin-Anderson OBE

Until recently, I was Director of Learning, Inclusion and Skills at Derby City Council, leading its High Needs Transformation Programme with IMPOWER. Today, I’m working with IMPOWER as an independent associate.

How did this happen?

Last year, I made some life changes and moved away from Derbyshire to be closer to my elderly parents. At the same time, I was looking for a new way of working that kept me involved in the High Needs system and made the most of my experience and skills.

Four years ago, I took on a lead role in Derby as the Director of Inclusion – a first for me. With an education background in teaching and headship, I had largely focused on school improvement in various local areas, but the poor 2019 local area special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) inspection required a change of leadership and direction.

Together with the inclusion teams, partners, parent carer forum and schools, we reset the narrative and ambition to put children and young people first, and worked in genuine partnership. Two years later, in summer 2021, we recognised the need to bring even greater change across the whole High Needs system and had neither the capacity nor the expertise to grasp this – and that’s where IMPOWER came in.

The passion and commitment from the IMPOWER colleagues we worked with was palpable. People really do care deeply and go the extra mile to make a difference for families. IMPOWER’s values are aligned to the public sector values I have held dear throughout my career and life, so an associate role was a natural next step for me.

I’m looking forward to working across the country on a number of projects and having a positive influence through partnerships, networks and policy work, including the High Needs Delivery Advisory Board. I want to make the biggest contribution I can to the sector and IMPOWER’s approach to delivering change at scale gives me an amazing opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of thousands of children and young people.

I have learnt a lot so far and look forward to deepening that learning as I become part of the various projects and developments over the coming months. I’m getting stuck into things at next week’s National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC) in Bournemouth, where I’ll be speaking in a plenary session about Derby’s work with IMPOWER. If you’re at the conference, please come along to the session – there will be some excellent lived experience perspectives, as well as the impact Derby and another local authority have achieved in their projects so far.

Written by

Pauline Melvin-Anderson OBE

Independent Associate



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