Monday, February 26

Tower Hamlets appoints new Corporate Director for Children and Culture


Tower Hamlets Council has appointed James Thomas to take over as Corporate Director for Children and Culture in July.

James is a highly experienced Director of Children’s Services who brings a track record of leading local education systems as well as delivering social care and early help.

He is currently interim Chief Executive at Children First Northamptonshire. His previous roles include interim Director of Children’s Services at Richmond Council and Tameside Council; Director of Children’s Services and Community Neighbourhoods at Newham Council; and Director of Family Services at Westminster City Council and the tri-borough partnership there.

In that time, he has led Children’s Social Care to achieve Outstanding Ofsted judgements as well as out of intervention. James is also the lead for the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) on Safeguarding Reform and sits on the national Safeguarding Reform Delivery Board. He is a qualified Social Worker and has maintained his Social Work registration.

James said: “I am really excited to be joining the team at Tower Hamlets. There is already a clear momentum of improvement across the council, and for the children and families of the borough. I can’t wait to hit the ground running and to start meeting with children, young people and families, front-line staff, head teachers, partners and the leadership teams for children and culture and the council.”

James will take over from Debbie Jones who has overseen the rebuilding of Children’s Services in recent years including fulfilling the bold pledge of moving children’s social care from an inadequate Ofsted rating to a good rating in just over two years.

Debbie has also led one of the country’s best cultural offers which included securing the All Points East and free community focused In the Neighbourhood festivals in Victoria Park, and our award-winning Summer Events programme which last year provided thousands of free activities and free meals to young people.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I look forward to working with James as we continue to deliver high quality services for our young people, parents and carers and our strong relationship with schools. Our Children’s Services department being rated good by Ofsted was a huge achievement and a credit to Debbie Jones and her staff. We will continue to build on this progress and the delivery of a wide range of cultural activities that reflect our place as a vibrant and exciting borough.”

Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, said: “James’s appointment is a measure of how Tower Hamlets’ success in recent years is attracting high calibre talent who want to be part of our journey to excellence.

“He has a tough act to follow. Debbie has made a lasting difference to the lives of people in Tower Hamlets. Her tireless work and dedication to ensure the council provides the best service it can for children and families in our borough is remarkable. We will be able to see her legacy, not just in the service, but in the lives of many of the young people that the council has supported.”

Cllr Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People, said: “As a council we are working hard to ensure our young people have the best start in life possible to realise their potential. James will bring a wealth of experience to Tower Hamlets as we work hard to ensure that we build on the improvements we have made and deliver Every Chance for Every Child in the borough.”

James will be working closely with Debbie over the coming months to ensure as smooth a transition as possible in the current circumstances.

  • Press release