82708 - Deputy Private Secretary to the President of the Family Division

£45,824 - £50,039
12 Months
London CTS Royal Courts of Justice, WC2A 2LL
Full Time
Administration / Corporate Support, Operational Delivery, Other, Policy, Secretarial

Deputy Private Secretary to the President of the Family Division


A unique opportunity to work at the heart of family justice providing high quality advice and support directly to the senior judiciary. This role is a key part of a busy and high performing Policy and Private Office team at the centre of Family justice.

As a critical part of a private office team, the postholder will directly support the President of the Family Division (PFD), and Head of the Family Justice System, Sir Andrew McFarlane.

Family justice provides certainty for people who are often at an extremely vulnerable moment in their lives. Our work improves how justice is done in disputes over children, property, or money associated with divorce; during adoption, wardship and other matters involving children; or how decisions are taken for those unable to choose for themselves, such as persistent vegetative state victims. We also have responsibilities for wills and probate especially the Probate Registry of the Family Division in London, and the 11 probate registries in England and Wales.

This role will have direct impact on these vitally important areas. The post holder will become a recognised and visible figure working alongside judges at the heart of the family justice system, and the role will have real impact.

The Role

Within the private office this role will have a number of portfolio areas, projects and subject matter areas.  The postholder will also support the Private Secretary in leading the wider private office in its provision of high-quality policy advice and support to the PFD, deputising for the Private Secretary where necessary.

Other responsibilities and tasks will be varied but will include: producing policy papers and briefing; representing the PFD at meetings; and helping shape the strategic direction of family justice. You will be directly responsible for a number of critical governance boards and executive committees at the most senior level.

To deliver effectively you will be expected to build and maintain a close working relationship with the PFD, helping him to develop his strategy and becoming able to articulate his views to an external audience.

You will become a visible and respected presence within family justice and will maintain strong relationships with peers and senior stakeholders across the Justice system, including within His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Department for Education (DfE). You will offer guidance, support, and appropriate challenge.

As a trusted source of advice, you will be expected to maintain an overview of developments in Family Justice.

The postholder will also work closely with colleagues within Judicial Office and will be expected to ensure that the perspective of family justice is fully taken into account in work that supports the development of the judiciary.

Development is a critical part of this role. It is an ideal jumping off point into wider management and leadership. The combination of private office functions with wider policy work provides significant levels of exposure and a number of opportunities to expand your leadership skills and demonstrate effective delivery.

Main responsibilities

The main responsibilities of the post include, but are not limited, to:

  • Underpin the PFD’s leadership of the family judiciary through effective policy advice and administrative and secretariat support. To include:
  1. Supporting the PFD's participation in meetings and court visits (e.g. Family Division Liaison Judge meetings, the Family Justice Board and others).
  2. Supporting the PFD in managing relations with Government departments, agencies, Parliament, stakeholders and other external bodies.
  3. Supporting the PFD's statutory and constitutional functions delegated from the Lord Chief Justice for judicial appointments, discipline and pastoral care.
  • Responding to requests for advice and briefing from Press Office on media enquiries and from other parts of the Judicial Office e.g., the Lord Chief Justice’s Private Office.
  • Supporting the PFD with judicial appearances before Parliamentary committees.
  • Supporting the PFD’s priorities by:
  1. engaging with the DfE and MoJ officials to take forward the PFD’s priorities on securing action to drive down the number of public and Private law cases being issued in the Family Court;
  2. securing reform to private law cases;
  3. supporting judiciary through the Reform Programme;
  4. increasing the supply of experts willing to give evidence in the Family Court; and
  5. supporting the work of the Transparency Implementation Group.
  • Managing secretariat support to judicially led working groups, taking forward work as required.

Skills and Qualifications:

The successful candidate will be organised, strategic and be able to prioritise and handle multiple issues concurrently. They will have excellent and concise communication skills. The post holder must be able to perform independently at a high level.

Part of the enjoyment and challenge of working in a private office is that work is occasionally fast paced and unpredictable. It will be important that the job holder is willing and able to be flexible in the tasks they take on.

The strongest applicants are likely to have proven experience of drafting, committee work, IT skills, communication and influencing skills. Prior experience of working with the judiciary and knowledge of the Family Justice System is desirable but not essential.

Broader team

The Private Office of the PFD is a multi-disciplinary, multi-grade Team of 9 FTE.

The postholder will be expected to have line management responsibilities within the team.

The Judicial Office

The Judicial Office is an Arm’s Length Body of the Ministry of Justice. We are a unique branch of the Civil Service, independent from Government, and dedicated to supporting judges, promoting judicial independence, strengthening the rule of law and improving the administration of justice by supporting the leadership and governance of the judiciary.

As a small organisation we offer distinctive opportunities, we prioritise well-being and development.


Person specification

The successful candidate must:

  • Be able to influence and manage upwards and speak with authority when dealing with senior officials or judiciary.
  • Have excellent communication and leadership skills.
  • Have strong organisational skills.

Experience of working with the judiciary would be an advantage but is not essential.

To apply please submit a CV, and a statement of suitability showing how you meet the essential criteria in no more than 500 words. We will also be assessing you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Communicating and influencing
  • Working together
  • Delivering at pace
  • Seeing the big picture

Working hours

One of the opportunities but also a challenge of working in private office is that you will be working directly with senior figures who have extensive demands on their time. You will need on occasion to be flexible in your hours of work to support events and meetings which take outside of core hours. We operate a flexible working time policy and are supportive of each other in making sure that this is achievable.


The role offers the chance for domestic travel around England and Wales in support of the PFD and other judges. This may involve staying away from home for occasional nights.

You will have access to a dedicated office space within the historic Royal Courts of Justice, with access to its libraries, café, and discounted staff gym. This reflects that face to face contact is likely to be a regular and necessary part of the role particularly during the working terms of the legal year. Our flexible working policy means that there are also opportunities to work from home.

For more information about the feasibility of any particular working pattern, please speak to the vacancy manager.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/success-profiles, and the sift will assess the behaviours outlined above.

At interview we will be assessing experience, behaviours and strengths.

Working Arrangements & Further Information

The MoJ offers Hybrid Working arrangements where business need allows. This is an informal, non-contractual form of flexible working that blends working from your base location, different MoJ sites and / or from home (please be aware that this role can only be worked in the UK and not overseas). Some roles will not be suitable for Hybrid Working. Similarly, Hybrid Working will not suit everyone’s circumstances. Arrangements will be discussed and agreed with the successful candidate(s) and subject to regular review.

For nationally advertised roles, the successful candidate(s) will be appointed to a MoJ office location, which may include their nearest Justice Collaboration Centre or Justice Satellite Office. This will be discussed and agreed on the completion of pre-employment checks.

Some of MoJ’s terms and conditions of service are changing as part of Civil Service reform. The changes will apply to staff joining MoJ who are new to the Civil Service. Staff joining MoJ from other civil service employers will transfer onto the new MoJ terms if they are already on 'modernised' terms in their current post or onto 'unmodernised' MoJ terms if they are on 'unmodernised' terms at their current post. Details will be available if an offer is made.

MoJ candidates who are on a specialist grade, will be able to retain their grade on lateral transfer.

All candidates who are currently in receipt of Mark Time / Pay Protection should ensure they are familiar with the new policy on permanent and temporary promotion which can be found on the employee intranet.

Flexible working hours

The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices.


The MoJ offers a range of benefits:

Annual Leave

Annual leave is 25 days on appointment and will increase to 30 days after five years’ service.

There is also a scheme to allow qualifying staff to buy or sell up to three days leave each year. Additional paid time off for public holidays and 1 privilege day. Leave for part-time and job share posts will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.


The Civil Service offers a choice of pension schemes, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best.


The Ministry of Justice is committed to staff development and offers an extensive range of training and development opportunities.


The opportunity to join employee-run networks that have been established to provide advice and support and to enable the views of employees from minority groups to be expressed direct to senior management. There are currently networks for employees of minority ethnic origin, employees with disabilities, employees with caring responsibilities, women employees, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.


  • A range of ‘Family Friendly’ policies such as opportunities to work reduced hours or job share.
  • Access to flexible benefits such as voluntary benefits, retail vouchers and discounts on a range of goods and services.
  • For moves to or from another employer or moves across the Civil Service this can have implications on your eligibility to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for alternative government childcare support schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. More information can be found on GOV.UK or Childcare Choices. You can determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.
  • Paid paternity, adoption and maternity leave.
  • Free annual sight tests for employees who use computer screens.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles. Should you feel that the recruitment process has breached the recruitment principles you are able to raise a formal complaint in the following order

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As a Disability Confident employer, MoJ are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. MoJ are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns.

You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team.

We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.

Interviews expected w/c 5th February.

22/01/2024, 23:55 hours.

If you require any assistance please call 0345 241 5359 (Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm) or e mail Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com 

Please quote the job reference - 82708.

Counter-Terrorism Check (CTC)

To apply for roles in MOJ you will need to confirm your employment history for at least 3 years prior to the date of application so that pre-employment checks (BPSS) can be undertaken. If you have spent significant time abroad (a total of 6 months in the past 3 years) you would be required to give a reasonable account of the reasons why. 

For some roles you will be required to successfully complete National Security Vetting at Counter Terrorism (CTC), Security Clearance (SC) or Developed Vetting (DV) level as a condition of appointment. To meet CTC/SC/DV requirements you will normally need to have been resident in the UK for at least 3/5/10 years prior to the date of application (The level of checks that are required are stated in the advert).

If you do not meet the above requirements, you may still be considered if, for example:

  • You've been serving overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of HM Government
  • You were studying abroad
  • You were living overseas with parents

In such cases you will need to be able to provide referee cover for the period(s) of residence overseas. The duration of overseas residence and the country of abode will also be taken into account.

Success Profiles will enable a fairer and more inclusive method of recruitment by enabling us to assess the range of experiences, abilities, strengths, behaviours and technical/professional skills required for different roles. This flexible approach to recruitment focuses more on finding the right candidate for the specific role. To find out more about Success Profiles to support your application please click here for further guidance.

if you feel that your application has not been treated in line with the Civil Service Recruitment Principles, please contact SSCL (Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com) in the first instance

We have provided detail of the assessment stages and areas being assessed to help you prepare for completing your application form, and to advise of what will be assessed following this, if you successfully pass the application stage.

Application form stage assessments

Communicating and Influencing - 250 word limit
Working Together - 250 word limit
Delivering at Pace - 250 word limit
Seeing the Big Picture - 250 word limit
Statement of Suitability - 500 word limit
A sift based on the lead behaviour, Communicating and Influencing, may be held if a large number of applications are received. If a large number of applications remain after the initial sift, your application will be progressed to a full sift, where all behaviours will then be considered.

Interview stage assessments

There is 1 interview stage for this vacancy.
Communicating and Influencing
Working Together
Delivering at Pace
Seeing the Big Picture
Strengths may also be assessed at interview but these are not shared in advance.

A Great Place to Work for Veterans

The "Making the Civil Service a Great Place to work for veterans" initiative includes a guaranteed interview scheme to those who meet the minimum criteria to provide eligible former members of the Armed Forces with opportunities to secure rewarding jobs. Allowing veterans to continue to serve their country, and to bring highly skilled individuals with a broad range of experience into the Civil Service in an environment, which recognises and values your previous service in the Armed Forces.
For further details about the initiative and eligibility requirements visit : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/making-the-civil-service-a-great-place-to-work-for-veterans

Redeployment Interview Scheme

Civil Service departments are expected to explore redeployment opportunities before making an individual redundant. The MoJ are committed, as part of the Redeployment Interview Scheme, to providing opportunities to those who are 'at risk of redundancy'.

MoJ are able to offer an interview to eligible candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns. Candidate's will not be eligible for the Redeployment Interview Scheme if they are applying on promotion.

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

· UK nationals

· nationals of the Republic of Ireland

· nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

· individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020

· Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nationality-rules

This Vacancy is closed to applications.