The Long Awaited, Much Heralded, Oft Referenced, Highly Anticipated, Greatly Desired, Nervously-With-Baited-Breath-Awaited, Arrival Of……

……….Hopefully that’s enough of a big – build – up!!!!!!

Read on and try not to feel like this!
Read on and try not to feel like this!

Now for the let down bit! All the big-build-up was leading to was an update that  I’ve finally got around to getting some sections of our Integrated Services for Young People intranet set up for all of you to access info and other stuff from me!!

Louise in the Youth Service has got every thing set up for an intranet forum where you can access documents, plans and other stuff I will post there – and again it’s intended to be interactive.

To access it for the first time you’ll have to go to  When you first go in you’ll need to register using the button at the top right of the screen. You’ll need to provide a username and a password. The sytem will let Louise know you’ve registered and she’ll then approve your registration and the system will send you a confirmation e-mail. Once you’ve got that you’re good to go. The home screen looks like this


Once you’ve gone into the intranet site, you’ll find the “Board Index” page. It’s divided into sections and Louise has set me up to post info to some of those sections – you’ll find them under the headings “The Boss’s News”, “The Boss’s Stuff”, “The Boss’s Chat” and “The Boss’s Links”

CaptureI know these things take time to get used to – and indeed that some of you might not really like this sort of thing – it’s not compulsory of course! But I hope you’ll use it as I think it’ll be a quick and effective way of not only getting you further info but also a way of providing easy access to documents, presentations and the like that you might be interested in looking at from time to time!

Support Functions Review

I’ve got a Support Function Project Board meeting later today. I will send an updatefrom that in due course. In the interim though, as I have mentioned in recent briefings, please respond to the consultation about the posts in scope as and where it is relevant, and if you think it is necessary, feel free to copy me in on any issues or points you think I need to be aweare of.

A Dad’s Army Moment……..

Dads Army……Just wanted to share this! On my journey in this morning a young man phoned in to what I assume was his boss – here is the essence of what he said

“Hi! It’s X. You’ll never guess what I’ve done – I was so nervous about today being my first day in charge of the store that I’ve come in and left the keys for opening up at home! Can you believe that?! What an idiot! I’m not panicking though! I was going to go home and get them – it’s just that I …..well….I live out in Epsom and I wondered if anybody else has a set? She does – great! No, it’s not a problem for me to go pick them up from her – where does she live – Battersea? Hang on I’ll check……”

Young man to me: “Does this train go to Battersea?”

Me: “No!”

Young man to phone: “Oh this is a disaster! Looks like I’m on the wrong train for Battersea but I’ll get off and go get the correct train and get the keys from her! Sorry about this!”

Young man stands up and moves to doors of train. Doors however close and train moves away before he gets off!!!

Panic stricken he gets back on his phone “Hello? You’ll never guess what’s happened now? You’ll probably think this is so funny but the train left Victoria before I could get off! (At this point it’s clear from the expression on his face that the person at the other end of the phone isn’t finding this in the least funny!). I don’t know what to do! What time do the rest of the staff arrive for work? As early as that?! I’m not sure what to do……” At this point he looks at me……..

Me: “You’ll have to get off at Clapham and take a train back to Battersea”

Young Man to phone: “I’ll get off at Clapham then go back to Battersea, get the shop keys and then get back to Victoria. When do I have to be there? 8:30? At the latest? (this was 7:45!) Oh I’ll make that easily. No don’t worry I’ll make it. I know it’s importnat. I’ll make it! Bye”

From then on he stood by the doors waiting desperately for Clapham to arrive! I’ve never seen anybody so keen to get to Clapham Junction. Last I saw of him he went charging off down the stairs at Clapham.

He wasn’t dressed like Corporal Jones, he wasn’t the age of Corporal Jones and he didn’t look like like Corporal Jones – but he definitely sounded like Corporal Jones!


Briefings…… buses! – The “3 come along at once” thing!

This is in recognition of this being a breakfast briefing - not connected to fact I'm on a diet!
This is in recognition of this being a breakfast briefing – not connected to fact I’m on a diet!

Monday was the first briefing of the week for all CYPLD staff from DMT – I wasn’t there and Tolis is currently on leave of course but the other Exec Heads were there. Today, at 10:00, it’s the second of those CYPLD briefings at Strawberry Lodge – and I will be there this time so if you are attending I hope to see you there.Yesterday and again on Friday we have service briefings – it was Jackie’s services yesterday and it’s Claudette’s staff on Friday. I’ve got Vanessa typing up the notes from my briefing presentation and when they are ready I’ll get them made available if you want to take a look.

DMT Key Points

Summary of the key things from this week

Legal Service – We got an initial briefing on the shape of the shared

legal service that the Council is setting up with 3 other boroughs. It is hoped to go live on Oct 1st. Between now and then there will be further info for staff and managers

........Although I'm a tad hungry!
……..Although I’m a tad hungry!

CMT Feedback – CMT had been considering the varied approaches to setting “localities” within the borough. Further work will be needed to get greater consistency but we think it is likely to reflect the underlying approach we are taking in CYPLD of aligning localities to a group of Area Committees

Resident Survey – Council will be conducting a short resident survey imminently before the larger MORI poll of resident satisfaction levels with services which will take place in Oct/Nov.

Commissioning Performance Management – In addition to the changes we’ll be bringing in on managing contracts (as mentioned in blog already) we will also be developing a process for recording and reporting on the use of spot purchase arrangements. Not likely to affect most of you but thought you should be aware

........Actually starving is more accurate!
……..Actually starving is more accurate!

Carew Manor – We hope the proposed sponsorship will progress in Sept as planned but have agreed contingency arrangments for governance and leadership just in case there is any delay

Emergency Plan – The Council has a revised “Emergency Response Plan”. The HoS will be checking details in the weeks ahead and we’ll be reviewing it at one of our HoS meetings

All Things Leadership and Management

In recognition of the DMT decisions about Performance Frameworks in Commissioning contracts, here is Performance Management –  according to Dilbert……..!

Any similarity to managers here, especially called Col, is a coincidence!
Any similarity to managers here, especially called Col, is a coincidence!

Cycling Proficiency Can Cause Life Long Emotional Scars!………

……….Over recent weeks I’ve had a number of invites to events celebrating the achievements of children and young people  I always enjoy these – there is always something uplifting and inspiring about listening to stories of young people and their successes. They are also an obvious reminder about how important it is to celebrate achievements and progress. That’s why I’m starting this blog update with a thank you to all of you for the significant improvement we secured in the OfSTED report for our Child Protection and Early Intervention which was published recently. Regardless of whether you were involved directly or not, these outcomes reflect on all of us and young people aren’t alone in needing to have their achievements recognised – as adults we need the recognition at times too! I am currently thinking about how to do that on a division wide basis so if you have any suggestions let me know through comments or send me an email directly.

Oh how I envy the holder of this coveted piece of paper!
Oh how I envy the holder of this coveted piece of paper!

“What’s all that got to do with cycling proficiency?” I hear you ask! Well, at age 10, the first thing I did on my cycling proficiency test was push off from the kerb – straight into a car! Anywhere else on the planet they’d have wanted to reassure you and encourage you to get your confidence back – but not in Glasgow. Instead they gave me a form with ‘FAILED’ written across it!!! To this day I’ve never quite got over it and I think it’s a key reason why I’m such a shy and quiet soul. I tried to make up for it by constantly trying to get a Blue Peter badge but didn’t manage that either! I’ve never met anyone else who failed the cycling proficiency but being the only person in history to fail the test doesn’t actually make me feel better-I mention it only in the hope there is a fellow sufferer out there. If you did fail it- put me out of my misery of thinking I’m the only cycling test failure in history!

 DMT Update

We had the first collective meeting of DMT with all the Heads of Service a couple of weeks ago. The focus of these meetings is broadly performance. We reviewed the final budget position for last year and looked at issues emerging at this stage of the financial year, especially for our placement costs. These are difficult to control because the demand is determined by individual needs. The performance meeting also looked at other reports including a Review of DfE Data Matrix highlighted most of school/wider education rankings are very good. Where they are less positive we looked at the reasons and what we are doing to address these. When we get an internal Forum set up, I will add documents such as this so that you can have a look at them if you are interested.  

After that joint meet with Heads of Service, at the next DMT meet we reviewed progress on redesign and some provisional next steps. We then agreed a paper about how we will support Council wide approach to supporting people suffering from dementia and also agreed a draft Memorandum of Understanding for the performance data service we’ll get from the new corporate Research and Intelligence hub. At DMT this week we reviewed the progress with sponsorship for Carew Manor and agreed a final version of the Participation Strategy which we will present to the Improvement Board in due course. We have also agreed to implement a revised approach to using outcome measures within services we commission and agreed to fund an interim management role for the pilot locality team we will be setting up at Tweeddale as part of the Children’s Redesign.

67 and Inspiring!

A couple of weeks ago I went over to the Isle of Wight Festival. It’s a great festival with a mix of new and old bands. I had a bit of a nostalgia weekend really – firstly on the Friday night I went to watch the Stone Roses – wonderful. Then on the Sunday to close the festival I went off to the tent to watch Blondie – I wasn’t expecting much to be honest but they were fantastic. And then someone told me Debbie Harry is 67! Made me realise I need to stop grumbling about getting older and take a leaf out of her book!


Vanessa Ashawe has started as my new PA. As I mentioned previously, Vanessa has replaced Hilary who has moved across to work full time within Home Education. Vanessa joined me last week and hopefully she’s getting used to things. Vanessa is also based in a different part of the building. Consequently she’s got a different number to the one previously used for my PA. She’s now on ext 6516.

Things You See Underground!!!!!!

Artist impression of how I'd have looked if Gold Lame Jackets had been around in the 80's - lucky escape I'd say!!!
Artist impression of how I’d have looked if Gold Lame Jackets had been around in the 80’s – lucky escape I’d say!!!

I felt my age pretty badly yesterday when I came through Oxford Circus, heading home in a boring suit and found myself sharing a carriage with a young man heading out for the evening, wearing broad black and white striped jeans and a gold lame jacket!!!!!! Ah the confidence of youth!!!! It reminded me of a suit I had in the early eighties made of six-inch square navy and sky blue check! It was my pride and joy then – if I wore it today alas I think I’d just look like a small, fat guy wrapped in an oversized dish towel!!!

 Camden School Campaign

The Keep Camden Local Campaign is gathering support and signatures from the local community
The Keep Camden Local Campaign is gathering support and signatures from the local community

The community campaign to choose Greenshaw High as the sponsor for Camden Juniors has gathered considerable pace over the last few weeks. We know many parents submitted a response to the consultation and the meetings with both of the possible sponsors were well attended. I was at the second of the Harris Federations meetings with parents. I thought the community was thoughtful and clearly focused on securing the best option for the school. The DfE were also represented at the Harris meetings and it was at them that most of the parental frustration and challenges were targeted. Having been in similar situations myself I know it’s not easy handling a meeting with a community who disagree with an action or decision you’ve taken. Nevertheless the parents handled the situation with impressive control and dignity. The consensus among parents I spoke to afterwards was that the DfE were less than impressive – perhaps if they learn from it they’ll think more carefully in future about how they present to meetings like the Camden parents sessions. We won’t know the outcome of the consultation for at least another week – before then we’ll be writing to DfE making our views as an LA clear on the fact that we wholeheartedly support the local sponsor option and that we think the Federation currently running Camden Juniors has made significant progress and that the school is now much improved. The parents campaign runs a blog with updates and if you’re interested you can find it here

 Sign Ups

If you’ve not already done so you can sign up to this blog automatically using the links on your right. It will mean you’ll be sent the updates automatically and you won’t need to wait for it to be cascaded out through your Heads of Service. Eventually I hope everyone will be signed up so we won’t need to rely on cascade in future.

In addition I do try to Tweet about what’s happening most days as a more immediate way of keeping in touch. If you want to follow me on Twitter I’m on @EdnEarl. If you are not on Twitter it’s free, easy to sign up and you can do it on your smartphone or tablets. I’d really recommend it – you might find you surprise yourself and get to like it – I know I have!

Starting Each Day The Grove Way!

 I’ve never worked anywhere as picturesque and beautiful as The Grove. It’s a lovely environment all year round but on a lovely sunny morning like today, it makes it a pleasure to arrive at work! – well almost! Today as I walked in, my start to a beautiful morning was completed by listening to Sigur Ros on my iPod. There are two advantages to this – firstly the music is uplifting and joyous and secondly as they sing in Icelandic I can’t join in which gives the squirrels a break! (That’s not strictly true – I do sort of try to sing what I THINK they’re saying but not quite the same volume just in case anybody who does speak Icelandic overhears my warbling!) Anyway this is Sigur Ros’ ‘Hoppipolla’ – give it a try! ( And if you think you’ve never heard Sigur Ros you’re probably wrong – this track is well used background music on TV in things like wildlife programmes!)


We are progressing the set up of the first Locality pilot team at Tweeddale. We’ve worked with managers and with partners on what the team might look like and we’ll be finalising that in the coming weeks. A number of officers have made visits to other LA’s which have locality teams in place and we’re using what we’ve learned from that to shape our redesign and some of the processes we will need to have in place. You’ll get further detail on the redesign progress at the two CYPLD Staff Briefings which are being held this week.

 And Finally…….

……………………. I had a few days off over the weekend. I went to another music festival – this time the Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire. I’m a lover of music festivals but am now trying to go to those I’ve never been to before so it was my first time at Cornbury – and the best way to describe it is that it is more ‘Posh-bury’ than ‘Glastonbury’!!! It was definitely the most civilised and the poshest festival I’ve ever been at!!!! (Like handwash in the loos and stalls selling tea and home-made cakes!!!!) But it was great! If you’ve never been to a festival before I’d recommend it as an introduction – you’ll love it!!! And to encourage you in case you are slightly tempted, here’s a little of Keane’s headline from the Saturday – they were magnificent!!!!