……….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.
“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!
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!!!!!!
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 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
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.
……………………. 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!!!!