Spotlight on … the role of our Board Chair

Posted on 09th Feb 2024
Two girls with welly boots on jumping into a big puddle

After six years in the role, Michelle Miller is stepping down as Chair of SCRA’s Board. We talk to Michelle about the role and her time with SCRA…

Can you tell us what attracted you to the role?
A long career in local authority social work services in Scotland meant that I was already familiar with the work of Reporters – and SCRA more widely. I am a strong believer in the Children’s Hearings System and I saw this role with SCRA as a fantastic opportunity to continue to play a part in children’s services with an organisation that I respect and admire greatly.

Can you explain a little about the role of Board Chair?
Chairing, or indeed being a member of the Board, is very different from being an officer in SCRA. There is no direct responsibility for service delivery or management, but rather for setting the strategic direction of the organisation and ensuring that its aims and objectives are met. We do this by holding the Chief Executive Officer and the senior leadership team to account for service quality, performance and financial stability. I chair Board meetings, support Board members and officers where needed, liaise with Scottish Government colleagues and partner agencies, but best of all – and something which I’m not always able to do as much of as I would like – visit locality teams across the country to hear directly from frontline staff about the work they are doing.

Can you tell us about some of the work you have been involved in with the Board?
In the course of my six years with SCRA, there have been so many different achievements – all down to the incredibly committed and professional staff across the whole organisation – that it would be impossible to list them all here.

Could you talk about some of these highlights?
There are three important areas that have characterised my time with the Board, each of which has required a huge amount of work, commitment and resilience from the whole organisation and which have demonstrated to me how lucky I am to be associated with SCRA and how lucky the system as a whole is to have SCRA as a key partner.

The first is how the organisation responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. The flexibility and creativity with which staff took on the challenge of ensuring children remained as safe as possible under unprecedented and almost impossible conditions was humbling. The second was the introduction of a new computer record system, which required the management of an incredibly complex and large-scale programme – all done during lockdown with its added challenges. And the third is the contribution and response of SCRA to major policy and legislative developments, notably UNCRC, the Children’s Care and Justice Bill and The Promise – and in particular the review by The Promise programme of the Children’s Hearings System.

What you will take away from the Board?
I will always have very fond memories of my time with SCRA. I am very proud to have been a part of it for the past six years and hugely grateful to all the staff for their kindness, professionalism, commitment and resilience. I know there are challenging times ahead, but I am confident that SCRA will continue to help shape the critical landscape for children in as positive a way as possible.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about applying for the role?
I would encourage anyone who has an interest in making Scotland a better place for our most vulnerable children and young people to apply. SCRA is at the heart of children’s services and the quality of both its staff and leadership team provides a real opportunity to shape the system for the future – and for the better. You will be chairing a Board of highly motivated, experienced and committed members who will support you in this mot exciting of roles.

If you are interested in applying for the role of SCRA Board Chair, more information is available on the Public Appointments website.

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