My ‘Marie Celeste Workload’ Theory – And Why It Doesn’t Work!……….

Now I See Where My Own Use Of To Do Post Its Has Being Wrong!
Now I See Where My Own Use Of To Do Post Its Has Been Going Wrong!

……….You’ll probably know that it is the schools half-term holiday this week. Because of the need to be around in ‘term time’ it is therefore a week when not only the schools are away, but also a week when a considerable proportion of the School Improvement / Advisory and Inspection staff take leave. And that’s where the ‘Marie Celeste’ theory comes in. With essentially a third of my ‘responsibilities’ away at the same time, that side of my work should be minimal and a bit deserted. That therefore should reduce my workload by about a third. The theory is simple, logical and perfectly rational – but it never works! This week my diary is as crammed as ever, my to do list is as long as ever and the proportion of my ‘tasks for today’ which are ACTUALLY finished at the end of said day is the same as ever! I don’t know about all of you but I think for me the crux of the problem is I ALWAYS overestimate how quickly I can catch up! My brain works something like this……”Letter to so and so – 20 mins tops” ( it then takes an hour)……..” Briefing note to draft for Tolis on Y – 30 mins tops” ( it then takes an hour)…….. ” Review OfSTED consultation on Z – be realistic that needs 45 mins..maybe even an hour tops” ( and does it take an hour? Try two!).

So I’ve got a few days of catching up this week. On Monday I started with 32 things on my catch up list – this is Wednesday and I go on leave tomorrow so this is my last day. I’ve done 8 things on my list so I have 24 to do in one day! Even I don’t overestimate to that extent – even if one third of my responsibilities are on holiday!


DMT meeting on Monday included feedback on corporate review of support functions. A number of you may well have contributed to this as staff with “support ” type functions in your jobs or as managers. At this stage at DMT we were simply reviewing overall feedback from meetings with support staff and managers. The key issue for CYPLD will be aligning the timing of any change with the broader redesign programme. I will update you when I know more details and especially when the clarity around what might change, how, and by when, starts to emerge.

From our division we had a couple of reports on the agenda. The two Early Intervention services had done a combined risk assessment on a number of our early intervention provisions. As a result, I will now meet with Sharman Lawson to address some of the specific points in that report. In addition we had a paper proposing that we ask schools to work with us on reviewing a number of aspects of educational provision, that could be best described as being focused on how we can most effectively support and include the most vulnerable and at risk pupils in Sutton.  The proposal was welcomed and I will now be approaching the schools representatives to consider next steps.

Lastly we reviewed and agreed a draft multi-agency Looked After Children Strategy. Once finalised and adopted by the Council I will share key points from the strategy, and what I think the implications of it are for different services within our division, in either a briefing meeting or in a blog update.


The Leaving Care service held their annual event to celebrate the successes of our young people in care on Monday. I wasn’t able to attend myself, but Tolis reported back to DMT that the event went well and was a great opportunity to showcase and mark some of the fantastic achievements of our young peoplein care


Sutton’s population is continuing to grow – and within that growth there is a significant increase in the number of children in Sutton. The knock on effect of this is that we have needed to make additional places available in our schools to ensure we have enough educational provision to meet demand. And of course, as is always with the case of these shifts in pupil numbers, they affect some parts of the borough more than others. We are already extending the number of places on a number of sites – this meeting of Primary and Secondary HT’s along with relevant Council officers, was focused on the projections for the future and the implications for meeting this rising demand. The three key messages at this stage are that the recent additions and the already agreed extensions at primary should address most of the pupil place demands in that phase for a few years. At secondary, the schools themselves were clear that their preferred option would be to add to existing schools before considering an additional secondary and we agreed that we need to manage the addition of numbs in such a way that it does not have any knock on effect on other schools in the vicinity. It was a really effective session and sets us up well for the more detailed discussions to come.


I’m off on leave at the end of today as I said earlier. I’m off from tomorrow until next Wednesday. In the interim if there are any issues, the Heads of Service will refer to Palvinder Kudhail if necessary although I’ll still be checking e-mails and my work phone periodically – although I have to do it secretly as I’m supposed to be on a family holiday in Stratford-upon-Avon!!!!


As well as the formal, I did say I might use these updates for the non-official and the not so formal. So I want to share with you my ‘band of the moment’ – as I mentioned before I am into ‘indie’, music but within that I think I’ve got pretty varied tastes. Anyway, my favourite new album of the moment is by a band called ‘Night Beds’. Now before you laugh I’ll admit it’s a dreadful name for a band – and as a man who bought albums by Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, by Get Cape Wear Cape Fly,  and by Toad And The Wet Sprocket ( I jest not – these aren’t made up – well they are of course made up – just not made up by me!) I know a naff band name when I see one! However I’d urge you to get past the name and give them a try ( when I say them I guess in mean him – Night Bees is essentially Winston Yellens,  a singer-songwriter from Nashville I think). I think the music is beautiful and gorgeous and I’m going to see them/him at the Borderline later this month – if you like the music come along!!!!!! And if you try the music leave a comment and let me know what you think of it! (for Louise in Youth Service my apologies in advance – not likely to hear this at “Bloodstock Festival” I guess!!!!!)

And Finally…….

Please leave a comment on any of the above ( not just Night Beds). It’s easy. There is no need to be on Word Press or Twitter or anything – you can do it by just leaving your name and email – I will respond (eventually!). In addition if you are on Twitter a perennial reminder that I am on @EdnEarl and lastly if you haven’t signed up for the blog posts yet please follow the link on the right – again its easy and means you can be sure you’ll get the info direct in future ( and with that statement I’m glossing over the possibility that you might not WANT to get this stuff!!!)

And Finally, And Finally……..

Recently I was in the car with my ten year old daughter. An item came on the news about the Booker Prize so she asked me about it. I rambled on and on about everything I knew about Booker, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Hilary Mantel, etc etc etc. she just sat there. When I finished she turned to me, took a breath and then said ” Col. When you worked in schools, we’re you a really boring teacher?”!!!!!!!!!!

Firmly put in my place I said nothing and drove on – but inside I was weeping! So, for the comments, ever had any feedback from your kids that put you in your place?!!!!!!………

Have a good week and good weekend when Friday comes.


6 thoughts on “My ‘Marie Celeste Workload’ Theory – And Why It Doesn’t Work!……….”

  1. Really enjoying the blog. Great way to keep up to date with what is going on!
    I know what you mean about work – ”to do” – I was hoping to have half term as a great catch up week with the team while schools are quiet – but…there is one on anual leave, one off sick, one at college and the other only part time, so am on my own doing everything! sigh. (still..amazing what you can get done on your own although its a bit creepy in empty office)
    Keep the blogs going and I promise to listen to Night Beds (?)

    1. Tracy. Thanks for feedback. Good to know am not alone in finding a difference between what I expect a half term holiday to be like and what it’s actually like! I’ve had much of today at my desk – lonely but productive. That list went down from 24 to 17 ( although on checking e-mails in station have already added 5 things onto the list!). Still next week is another beginning. Hope you enjoy Night Beds!

    1. I like it! Have done a ‘done list!’. First thing I wrote on ‘done’ list was ‘Have done a done list!’ And in having written that I realise I’ve also invented a new tongue twister! Which I can now add as number two on my ‘done’ list!!!!!!

  2. tried to listen to the Night Beds, but can’t get sound on my work computer 😦 will find them at home. Have you tried Mumford and Sons? Apparently they have been around ages, but I only just discovered them, as I know of the Mumford parents and was curious!

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