Governing Board Member Vacancy- Nuffield Family Justice Observatory - 6th Jan 2021

About the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory is an organisation which seeks to improve the lives of children and families by putting data and evidence at the heart of the family justice system. 

An exciting new start-up established and being incubated by the Nuffield Foundation, the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory began work in 2019 following a scoping and development phase. The Nuffield Foundation has committed a fund of £5.5m to support the development phase and four-year pilot (until 2023). 

The work of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has already attracted attention and praise. Its reports during the pandemic on the impact of hearings being conducted by phone and video have been described as “a stunning piece of work”, “a must-read" and “[proof], if that were needed, it will put the presence of the FJO on the Family Law map in indelible ink” by the President of the Family Division. The NFJO’s profile on mainstream, specialist and social media has increased exponentially in the last year and its reports, events and regular bulletin are being accessed by hundreds of judges, lawyers and social workers. An overview of the Nuffield FJO’s work in 2019-20 is outlined in the Annual Report (PDF).

An ambitious workplan for 2021 and beyond seeks to use research evidence and data to open up conversations to find better ways to support children and families, to close the gap between what we know from research and happens in practice and to put a spotlight on the experience of children and families who experience the family justice system. The work is being driven by a small, dynamic team, working collaboratively with a wide range of organisations and individuals. We are looking to extend our reach, deepen our impact and build a successful and sustainable organisation. 

Recruitment to the Governing Board
The work of the Nuffield FJO is led by a small team and overseen by a Governing Board. The Board draws together different perspectives to help set the strategy for the Nuffield FJO, support its development and achieve long-term sustainability. 

We are currently looking to recruit one or more additional members to the Governing Board to help us achieve our goals.

We are open to applications from a variety of backgrounds. While we do not expect candidates to have experience in all these areas, we are particularly keen to receive applications from individuals:

  • who have a strategic organisational mindset and understanding of good governance
  • who have some experience of supporting the development and sustainability of small or start-up social impact organisations, with some knowledge of business development or fundraising
  • who have some recent experience of private law cases, ideally working as a solicitor or barrister
  • who have knowledge of the family justice system in Wales as well as England.  

The Governing Board is strongly committed to ensuring that the experiences of children and families are better understood and more visible within the family justice system. The Board has a commitment to equality and diversity underpinning all its work, recognising that different forms of inequalities combine to affect children and families in the family justice system and that Nuffield FJO’s work needs to illuminate and address these inequalities. We will expect all applicants to be committed to this approach.

Candidates will need to demonstrate enthusiasm and energy for the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory and its mission, with an appetite for creating positive social impact. Board members will be expected to act collegiately and contribute to the wider board and strategy of the organisation, beyond their own expertise. We are looking for individuals who are adept at understanding a range of views which are sometimes sharply at odds with each other and being able to steer the FJO through these so that it is seen as truly representative and independent.

Governing Board members are expected to commit approximately 10 days per year, to include four to five meetings per year and preparation time. There is an honorarium of £2,000 per annum. Board members are appointed initially for three years, with the possibility of a further extension of one to two years.

Role Description 

Board members will be expected to work closely with the Chair to:

  • adhere to good governance principles,
  • set the strategy to fulfil the mission and remit of the FJO, ensuring that the FJO aims are delivered effectively and sustainably,
  • agree the work programme and budget and ensure they are in line with the purpose of the FJO,
  • monitor performance against strategic aims, including actively managing risk and financial operations,
  • review the sustainability of income and operating model in the short, medium and long term,
  • act as ambassadors for the FJO, including attending or leading NFJO events if required.

Board members must have:

  • a commitment and in-depth understanding of the aims and vision of the organisation
  • a willingness to devote the necessary time and effort
  • strategic vision
  • integrity, good and independent judgement
  • an ability to think creatively
  • a willingness to speak their mind
  • an ability to work effectively as a member of a team
  • tact and diplomacy
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • impartiality, fairness and the ability to respect confidences.

The Terms of Reference for the Governing Board can be downloaded here.

 Application and further information

For further information or to apply, please email the Nuffield Foundation at with a CV and a covering letter summarising your reasons for applying and your relevant experience.

All applications will be treated and followed up in strict confidence. The closing date for applications is 12pm midday on Monday 25 January 2021, with interviews likely to take place via video the week of 8th February 2021.

We value diversity and support inclusion. We are trying to increase the diversity of those who work with us and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

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