Jennifer Robson moved from crime to early years

The programme manager at the National Children's Bureau made the leap into the sector from a career in the civil service

Jennifer Robson
Jennifer Robson

From a young age I was fascinated by the way early experiences with family and environment shape children

When I was 14, the case of Jamie Bulger, the toddler who was murdered by two 10-year-old boys, was in the news. I got really interested in studying how people's childhoods affect how, when and if they enter the criminal justice system.

I did a psychology and criminology degree - it was just as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and that sort of thing was coming to the fore, and I guess everyone thought we were going to get jobs like that.

But when I graduated in 2001, I got a job in the civil service in Middlesbrough, working for the Department for Work and Pensions in an administrative role. In 2003, I moved to the Department for Education in Westminster. At first, it was a bit overwhelming, but it was an amazing opportunity: after the back-office stuff, I was working on big initiatives like Every Child Matters.

After 10 years, I moved on to the National Children's Bureau and worked on the bid for Big Lottery funding to run the Leap project in Lambeth, south London, before applying to be project manager at the charity.

The programme is a partnership that gets parents, the local community, healthcare services and charities involved in making sure children have a chance of a really good start. It might not be what I thought I'd go into after my degree, but once you've worked in early education and seen what a difference it can make, there's no way back.

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