………I don’t know about your family, but in my family we have these, sort of, “catchphrases”, that come mainly from movies that we’ve enjoyed! For example you’ll frequently hear either my daughter, my partner or I announcing “Parfait must be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!” any time we find something we like! The headline for my blog this week is another of our well-worn family phrases – usually when something difficult happens that makes you think “Oh NO!” – one use in our house is it prefaces bedtime for my daughter! It was, as you can see, the strap line for the movie JAWS 2. In this blog post though it refers to the fact, that we have been informed that OfSTED are in to do their inspection of Child Protection and Early Help arrangements, having arrived yesterday. Now I’m certainly not comparing OfSTED to either a big fish with sharp teeth or to a terrible 1970’s film (and it really was a terrible movie!!!) I simply meant that when I got the news yesterday morning that was what went through my head – we’ve just finished the DfE Review of the implementation of the Improvement Plan a couple of weeks ago and we’re in the middle of preparing for the Peer Review of Safeuarding, due to take place in June. I’d not expected another inspection/review to come in between. However it’s good that it’s here for it is an opportunity for us to show what we’ve implemeneted from the Improvement Plan to date, demonstrate the real differences we’ve made and also to learn from OfSTED’s feedback about ways in which we might adapt or reinforce that improvement in the future. At this stage we’ve had the set up meet yesterday and it starts in practice today and will go through to next Wednesday. I’ll send a further update later this week on their areas of focus and on some of the practical details of the inspection. I’ve briefed Jackie, Claudette and Nigel and they’ll make sure those teams who might be directly involved will be up to speed as soon as possible.
I’ve been able to have a couple of meetings with groups of governors representing a number of schools in the last couple of weeks. Most of our engagement with governors usually comes with a particular Governing Body and so it’s usually about a specific school. It was good to have the chance to raise wider issues. I had the chance to update a number of Chairs of Governors at their termly briefing (every time I type that my auto-spell changes it to ‘trembly’!!!! My iPad must have had a bad experience with a Governing Body in a past life!) The CoG meeting gave me the opportunity to update them on developments with converting Carew Manor and Camden Junior schools to academies and update them on the Inclusion Review proposals that we recently wrote to all schools about. Just after the Bank Holiday I then got the chance to do an input to the Association of Sutton Governors on ‘Effectively Challenging Schools’. I linked my presentation to ‘Being Julie Andrews’ – and that makes me remember I started my blog posts with Sound of Music – am beginning to think I might have a bit of an emerging obsession with her!!!!!
We are progressing the conversions to sponsored academies of both the schools I mentioned above. The proposal to have Carew sponsored by Orchard Hill College is well advanced and formal consultation has begun. The proposals for Camden Juniors are a little less clear cut. DfE’s preferred sponsor remains ‘Harris’. The Governing Body and Local Authority preference is for a local school as sponsor. We are finalising the detail for that proposed alternative and hopefully we’ll be putting that alternative sponsor option to parents, staff and the community when Harris begin their consultation on their sponsorship proposal in the next couple of weeks. I’ll keep you updated on how that progresses.
School and Children’s Centre Visits……
I’ve had three recent visits – to All Saints Carshalton Primary, accompanied by the Chief Executive, to Shanklin Children’s Centre and to Victor Seymour Children’s Centre. School and CC visits are usually one of the best bits of the job and these were no exception. Some of the children we spoke to at All Saints were great characters – in one lesson I saw, where the children were writing riddles, a child read out her “clues” to me! First clue – “It’s got great eyesight and it can see a cow in a field from miles away!” – I said “Eagle” – wrong. Second clue “This is easy. It lives in a cave!” – I was stumped. Third clue ” This will be so so so easy! – It drinks blood!!!!” – Again I’d no idea. “I give up” I confessed! “It’s a Vampire Bat!” she announced, as if this was the most logical thing in the world. It was a good start to my day – even if it did leave me wondering if Vampire Bats feed on cows!
During my visit to Shanklin, I was fortunate to be able to talk to some of the parents who use the Centre and it was obvious how much they value and benefit from the support. It’s a common message I pick up in Children’s Centres. Victor Seymour Children’s Centre was an example of just how clever and resourceful people can be working within the limitations of the facilities they have. It also allowed me to visit The Grange CC, in Beddington Park, which is run through Victor Seymour – what a great resource that is.
My commute in and out on the Tube exposes me to some truly unusual sights! I’ve seen a bloke carrying his shirt on a hanger to stop it from getting creased on a train so crowded your shirt gets creased even when you’ve got the thing on!! I’ve seen a kid with an ironing board under his arm!! I’ve seen two blokes with a large head bust of Lenin and then yesterday a bloke carrying an epee sword with a fencing mask under his arm! It’s great entertainment if nothing else! Anybody seen anything as unusual as a bloke in fencing regalia on the way to work?!?!
Children’s Centre OfSTED Framework Changes……
We met with a number of the Heads of Centre last Thursday to review some of the emerging areas for improvement from the various inspections of Children’s Centres in Sutton to date. On Friday we had an internal meeting to review the new OfSTED framework for inspections of Children’s Centres. This will make a number of changes and will in a sense change the descriptors of what “outstanding” and “good” will look like going forward. We’ll take the emerging issues from both these sources and weave them into a draft Children’s Centre strategy that we’ll then go out to consultion on in the near future.
…………As a diehard Man Utd fan (which is exactly the same as Nigel being a diehard QPR fan – but with winning most football matches rather than losing most of them!) I can’t let this update go without mentioning the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson! Those of you who were at the Children’s Centre meeting last Thursday morning know that at that point I was a man in mourning after he announced his retirement!! By today however a modicum of sweetness and light has returned, because he’s been replaced by yet another great Glaswegian – is there any other kind of Glaswegian I hear you ask?! You did ask that didn’t you? And of course I’m too modest to give you an answer!
And Finally, And Finally……..
On the subject of family catchphrases – here are some others that we use – can you spot which film/TV programmes/books they come from – let me know through the blog comments section!! 1. “Parfait must be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!” 2. “Wake up and work out that flab that’s hanging over the bed!” (One of the less pleasant ‘time to wake up’ greetings in our house!) 3. “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” 4. “I love you to the moon – and back again!” (This is my line – one member of the household is delighted when I use it, one member of our household makes ‘I’m going to be sick’ gestures and one ignores it and looks for a place to bury a bone! You work out which is which!!) 5. “We will have one more schnapps together and then I will escort you to your quarters!” and finally (from the same movie as number 5) is number 6. “Broadsword calling Danny Boy”. I hope you’ll have a go and respond – if only to give me a little light relief in the midst of the inspection.