FOR three days last month, Poole's John Nash became a household name.

The face of the director of children's services at the Borough of Poole was beamed into millions of homes on TV news, his words heard on national radio and read in daily newspapers.

He was at the centre of a media storm after the Daily Echo revealed the council was using laws aimed at fighting terrorism to snoop on families suspected of abusing school places.

Jenny Paton, partner Tim Joyce and their three children were put under surveillance for almost three weeks to check if they lived in the catchment area of Lilliput First School, where they had applied for a place for their three-year-old.

Now the squall has passed and the media circus moved on, there is time to reflect for the man who in August will leave the borough after five years to become director of children's services at Dorset County Council.

"I regret the fuss around the whole business of the use of the RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act)," he said.

"I really regret the media interest in it and that we found ourselves in the eye of the storm and the impact that probably had on the reputation of the council. It's a good council," he said.

"I regret the school found themselves in the eye of the spotlight, I regret the parents found themselves in that spotlight," he said. "Having said that, I did my best to represent our side of the story."

That involved endless rounds of TV, radio and newspaper interviews. "It was a scary experience. It flowed. It went. And by Saturday lunchtime it had gone. It took three days out of my working life which I am still trying to get back."

He added: "Waking up to Frederick Forsyth on Saturday morning taking the mick on the Today programme, was not the best way to wake up."

The whole policy of using the RIPA in such a way is due to be scrutinised by councillors in June - and the furore came after he had applied for his new job.

"My leaving has nothing to do with that at all. It is a new opportunity to lead a bigger service," said the 57-year-old grandfather.

He has enjoyed his time at Poole and the former history teacher, deputy head, school inspector, chief adviser and director of education has chalked up a number of successes.

Schools for the Future is a massive undertaking to regularise the age of transfer, which will not be complete until 2013, Ofsted's joint area revue of children's services gave a "good" rating and Poole is the only local authority in the south west with no schools with a budget deficit.

Mr Nash arrived in Poole in 2003 as director of education and in 2005 became director of children's services, which he says is potentially the most important and valuable change in his 35-year career.

"The idea that you get all the agencies working together to support children who have difficulties and focusing on the child together, should enable us to raise standards in schools.

"The thing about schools is that's most people's main shot at a decent standard of living, and a fulfilling life comes through this thing called school.

"If it doesn't work it's hard to make up the lost ground," said Mr Nash, who is committed to ensuring that it does work.