As Julie Once Said – Let’s Start At The Very Beginning!

If This Blog Becomes A Musical, It will Look Like This!
If This Blog Becomes A Musical, It will Look Like This!

……….The place that’s the “very good place to start” is sorry – my apologies that it’s taken me so long to deliver the communications that you are entitled to – hopefully the post below this will explain to you why I’m now using a blog to do this from here on. I hope you’ll not only get something from the news updates and other posts that I’ll put on here but I hope you’ll interact with me too through the comments facility – if you have never used it before it’s really easy to do and I will respond (eventually!) And at this point I will reassure you that that is the one and only time you’ll see a quote from Julie Andrews in the Sound Of Music in this blog!

Anyway -here is the update for January 30th 2013


The Interviews for the Exec Head Role were demanding - but at least not like this!
The Interviews for the Exec Head Role were demanding – but at least not like this!

I was delighted to secure the permanent post with Sutton. The process was quite long– these things tend to have a number of rounds – a bit like Strictly Come Dancing but without the public votes each week!
I’d never intended staying when I first came – but I’ve been made to feel really welcome by everyone and I’ve been really impressed with a great deal of what’s done here – it’s also of course a place on the verge of change, and while it will have it’s challenges I also think it will present real opportunities – so I’m looking forward enormously to being part of that and to working with all of you


For the purpose of communicating with you, I wanted to share some basic terminology – so you know what I’m on about! I’ll refer to CYPLD (led by Tolis) as a “Directorate”, to Education and Early Intervention (led by me) as a “Division” and to the three areas led by Nigel, Claudette, and Jackie as “Services”. In addition  I’m likely to refer to the services led by Nigel as “school improvement”, the services led by Jackie as “early intervention” and the services led by Claudette  as “young people interventions”. I know all too well that these don’t reflect in detail the range or focus of the service areas but for the purposes of communicating through updates like this, I hope you’ll accept that I’m using them for ease of reference

CH….CH….CH…..CH……CHANGES! (Turn And Face The Strain! – Added purely for those who want to sing along if you recognise the lyric!)

You probably know that the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is up and running, based at Sutton Police Station. Lynne Rigg, who was oreviously the Education Safeguarding Advisor, reduced her hours significantly from January and as a result we’ve restructured how we deliver this provision to ensure we can have a permanent representative for Education within the MASH. After interviews, we’re delighted to confirm we are appointing Jenny Wood to the post within MASH and Jenny will take up her new role at the beginning of March 2013.

Our new inspector for SEN, Karen Shaw, started in her new role at the beginning of this term. Karen works as part of our Inclusion services, under Maria Marsh, working out of Chaucer. Welcome to Karen!

Some of you will already be aware that Pat Butler has just retired from her role as Head of Service for our “Intervention For Young People” services. Her last day was officially at the end of December.

Pat had signalled her desire to retire some time ago and in the interim most of the focus has been on agreeing when that retirement would take place. Losing someone of Pat’s experience was always going to be a challenge and there would never have been a good time to lose that vast knowledge and enthusiasm, which those of you who have worked with her with know only too well, but we reached a date which met Pat’s individual preferences and allowed the Directorate to consider how to manage in her absence. She will of course be greatly missed.

However I’m delighted to tell you that our YOT Manager, Claudette Brown, will step up from her role as Pat’s designated deputy to take on the Head of Service duties with immediate effect. In order to ensure there is capacity in YOT as a result of Claudette’s move, she will be working with HR in the weeks ahead to offer the opportunity to relevant staff to express an interest in the interim YOT manager role, and beyond that we’ll add in the relevant capacity wherever we think it might be needed. I will update you further as the spring term progresses.

I know there are posts we have been either holding vacant or with rolling temporary contracts in various teams. It’s not a situation I am comfortable with, and it is unsettling for the staff concerned. Just before Christmas I asked Jackie and Pat for a summary of all the vacant and temporary contracts posts and I believe we have now resolved most of these and where relevant. Renewals are confirmed

The last change was on the transfer of the Intensive Family Support from the Joint Adolescent Service with us to the emerging new Families Matter service, sitting win the Chief Executive’s Department. There have been a number of shifts and changes of policy and decision around the development of this service, but just before Christmas it was resolved to transfer all of IFS now rather than in phases as had been originally considered. as a result Rory Campbell, Tanuja Cook and Mandy Dennelly have all transferred to new posts in the new service and I wish them and their colleagues in the new Families Matter provision every success.


Directorate Management Team – We have these every week. They involve the DCS, Tolis and the Exec Heads, including myself – Ann Goldsmith, Palvinder Kudhail, Annette Madden and Sharman Lawson. The focus of the agendas is flexible, though at least once a month there’s a focus on performance monitoring including outcomes, HR, Finance, QA feedback etc. Generally, this is where much of the decision making takes place on policy, strategy and significant operational issues.  At the meeting at the start of December we looked at a Risk Assessment Profile which school improvement had compiled on how each of our schools might be judged at their next OfSTED inspection. On the whole, most of our schools are likely to continue to be judged good or better. However there are a small number where there is a risk of them being judged as “requiring improvement” and so these will inevitably be a priority for us to support and challenge in the future. We also considered a set of high level options for delivering on CYPLD’s savings targets for 2013 and beyond. Some of these will be within our division and I’ll initially work with Claudette and Jackie on developing more detailed proposals and a thorough analysis of the risks and implications inherent within them. Then, at the most recent meeting, we reviewed the overall budget position at Month 9, an emerging Communications Plan for the Council and the current corporate project to review support functions across the Council. There was considerable debate and discussion about the last item as it will be important to balance an approach which maximises efficiency with ensuring commissioning directorates like ours have the specialisms and support flexibility we will need to deliver the highest of standards. In principle, I think the review of support functions is entirely right. My feedback focused on process, management implications at team level, engagement of managers in the review at the right stage, and some of the criteria we will need to apply when deciding whether or not not to make changes to a role, such as considering whether to centralise.

One key message that I would want to emphasise for all of you who are budget holders is the importance of getting your budget set-up correct for 13-14 as we seem to have more control over that than in the previous year and also stress the importance of short summary budget narratives being provided back to your Heads of Service and to Finance, which clarify any queries or comments that might otherwise arise when budgets are reviewed.


………. As many of you know I go back and forward between Sutton and Essex on a daily basis. I come in by Tube and train, and on the whole the journey is fine and I can get a lot done, which is important when the journey takes about 2 hours each way! However travelling by Tube and aim is a rather solitary experience – and my fellow commuters look….well….miserable. And I wonder if I look like they do and they are thinking that about me!!!!! So a plea- if I arrive for a meeting, especially first thing in the morning, looking a bit miserable – challenge me! My family do at the other end of the day – and they won’t be as pleasant about it as you will be!


……..I’ve got several ridiculous phrases and quotes culled from songs, books and films that I use frequently – my family hate it and I guess you all might too – so this is an apology in advance for quotes from Shrek, Squeeze, Sylvester The Cat etc etc etc! One of them is to wait for a pause after someone says “So….” and get in with “a needle pulling thread??????” – which tells you two things. Firstly it is irritating! Secondly when I said that at the beginning of this blog post that it would be the only time I would ever quote from The Sound Of Music, I didn’t mean it!


Like Waiting For Christmas But Hopefully Coming Round More Frequently!……….

The news that the Exec Head has finally communicated with staff is met with exaggerated enthusiasm!

…When I first came to Sutton I wrote to all of you and promised to try and find ways to update you – I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get started. This is the first of what I intend to be a regular update to you – in them I’ll try and bring you up to speed on things happening across CYPLD, or indeed the Council, that I think are either important for you or that might be of interest. I’d originally tried to do it by drafting newsletters in Word templates – however the Council software is a bit behind the stuff that I’ve got at home – so I had constant niggles trying to go between one and the other.

Instead I’ve decided to blog and try to communicate with you all through that route – you’ll be able to “sign up” to the blogs, so that you’ll then get an e-mail every time I post info to here. There’s a link on the toolbar on your right that you can click and then follow it to sign up to future posts! (Though even if you don’t want to sign up, I’ll let you know when new info is posted to the blog site through e-mails sent out through the Heads of Service).

In addition I’ve set up a connected Twitter account and I’ll post tweets on that which will appear here for those of you who don’t use Twitter – for those of you who do I’ll “publish” these updates to Twitter so it will also let you know whenever I post any new info on here. This isn’t necessarily the ideal solution but it’s the best I can come up with as the likelihood will be I’ll drafting most of my comms with you at home (or on the journey in and out of Sutton) – and as I have the apps I need to use this blogging tool, it will actually make it easier for me to communicate regularly – that’s the theory anyway! (I’ve already got a personal blog that I update fairly often – mainly about books and music – so I’m used to using the software – at least, yet again, that’s the theory!!!!)

There are three things I want to be up front and caution you about from the start. Firstly that word “regular” that I just used – I guess I’m being a little vague on frequency –  just don’t want to promise something I can’t deliver – so in this case ‘regular’ just means as often as I can! Secondly sometimes I’ll get it wrong and will include things you are either not interested in or that aren’t relevant to you – my apologies in advance for that. Finally, where relevant and within limitations, I’ll include my view or perception on something  – therefore if I give a judgement be prepared for the fact that something might not pan out as I think it will!! I just think if I don’t put something of myself into the updates I write they become impersonal and could have been written by anybody with access to my diary! And that leads me to the last point – I’ll tend to personalise updates a little – it’s not because  I am under any illusions about my life being hugely entertaining – it’s just the way I tend to write! So apologies in advance if some it is a little dull and apologies in advance if some of it is EXCEPTIONALLY dull !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!