Sarah is a former Head of Strategy and Commissioning for 0-5 year olds, who has a passion for improving outcomes for children. She has 30 years’ experience of working within the NHS, Local Government and the Third Sector, the majority at a senior leadership level in a range of commissioning and provider roles.
Sarah was one of the first ‘trailblazer Sure Start Programme Managers, responsible for setting up from scratch and implementing the service. Unique features of the programme included the Parent Infant Mental Health Service and volunteer Community Parents Programme, as well as an action research approach to inform ongoing developments. She went on to set up a social enterprise to be the successor body for the local Sure Start programme.
Following on from her success in setting up the Sure Start programme she became the lead for the development of the three phases of the Children’s Centres programme working for a large County Council from 2004 to 2015. As Head of Strategy and Commissioning Sarah went on to lead the commissioning of the Council’s 53 Children’s Centres, which included consultation with stakeholders and staff engagement, getting all the centres ‘tender ready and disentangling them from years of building on existing resources, writing the service specification and being the business lead for the procurement process. This was the largest and most complex commissioning and procurement exercise the Council had undertaken at the time, involved the transfer of over 100 staff to new providers and saved the Council £2.6 million over the course of the contract.
After the contracts were awarded Sarah was responsible for the transfer of all centres to the new contractual arrangements, including the performance management and set up the Children's Centres Network. The aims of the network were to help the new providers shift from a culture of 'competition to collaboration', transform centre delivery, improve quality and Ofsted outcomes. This resulted in a significant increase in parental engagement and greater consistency of approach across the children's centres estate. During this time Sarah was also the commissioning lead for the roll out of the disadvantaged 2 year old early learning childcare places scheme and the redesign of the Early Years’ service.
As an experienced clinician and senior operational manager in the NHS, Sarah has an extensive understanding of the Healthy Child Programme and children’s mental health issues and has worked across the system in terms of transforming children’s services. She recognises the importance of co-production and of involving service users and engaging with staff and stakeholders to achieve transformational change.
Sarah is a qualified Nurse, Midwife and Health Visitor, holds a BSc in Health Care, a Diploma in Health and Social Services Management and an MA in Integrated Provision for Children and Families (Early Years). She has participated in the Commissioning Academy Programme run by the Cabinet Office.