Education chief heads to Australia

Dr Sonia Sharp, Sheffield's new director of children's services
Dr Sonia Sharp, Sheffield's new director of children's services

THE woman who has led children’s services in Sheffield for the last four years is to take up a senior post in Australia.

Dr Sonia Sharp, 49, will stand down as the city council’s Executive Director of Children, Young People and Families in the summer after being head hunted for a senior government role in Melbourne.

After working on an integrated approach to early years care in Sheffield, she has been offered the job of Deputy Secretary of Early Childhood Development. No announcement has yet been made regarding a replacement.

Dr Sharp previously held senior positions in Rotherham, Leeds and Birmingham.

Her background is in educational psychology and she is national lead on the subject for the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. She also advises the Government on early years, vulnerable children and children’s health.

In Sheffield, she has led an ambitious strategy to transform standards in education across the city – with mixed results.

City primary schools were at their lowest ranking in the league tables when she arrived, at 147th out of 150. Since then they have risen, but dropped from 116 to 130th place last summer.

Dr Sharp said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Sheffield and I feel we have achieved a huge amount to ensure the city’s children and young people achieve their potential and get the best possible start in life.

“I am now determined to get to grips with similar big challenges in Australia, but I will definitely miss Sheffield and its people.”