It’s Easy To Express But Hard To Tell!…..

…………That line comes from Joni Mitchell and it’s about ‘Sorrow’ which she says is “easy to express but hard to tell!” Which shows two things – one the fact that I’m quoting it must mean I am sorry about something – and I am – and secondly that if I know quotes from Joni Mitchell I must be an old hippy – and again – I am!!!

Bart SorryMy sorry is about the fact that it’s been several weeks since the last update. Since I came back from leave it’s been hectic but nevertheless I’m sorry that I didn’t make the time to keep you all informed. I’m definitely starting the new term with a “Must Do Better on Communications” target for sure.

The Quad

The new Quad facility up in Green Wrythe is now finished and the ISYP staff have moved in. I’ve been up a couple of times and it’s a great space – and seems to me a real improvement on how things were before with different teams in different buildings. In case you don’t know about it, the Quad is a refurbished Youth facility that now houses all of the staff teams in Claudette’s service in the same building. As well as the work space, common areas, meeting rooms and reception areas, the facility boasts a terrific new teaching kitchen. I particularly like the option it gives us for flexible staffing arrangements with staff from all teams in ISYP mixed in together. I think it would be a good model of organisation for our Locality Teams as well.

 Locality Teams

And on the subject of Locality Teams, the first pilot team is now up and running based at the Tweeddale Children’s Centre. Suzanne Cripps from EIPS has become the new Team Manager for the pilot team. Suzanne and her staff will not only be leading the delivery of Early Intervention in that area, but will also be at the forefront of our finalising the design, processes and systems for our full borough-wide roll out of Locality Teams from September 2014. As you would with any pilot, we are using this as an opportunity to learn more about what works well and what doesn’t. And while we are very confident about the pilot set up, we also know that we will have challenges and glitches to overcome – but I guess that’s why we are piloting it in the first place!

Music Tips Part One (cos I know you wait patiently on these!)

I’ve no idea whether or not more than one or two of you ever follow up on my music suggestions and advice. But as I am into it, I’ll keep doing it anyway! This first tip isn’t actually mine – this is currently Tolis’ favourite band (or at least the one that he’s been mentioning to me most!). They are called London Grammar and were being considered as a possible for the Mercury Music Prize – alas they didn’t make the shortlist! But that doesn’t mean they are not good – they are! A bit floaty, dreamy pop in places but see if you like it – the boss does!

Education Performance and Changes

Generally the overall pattern for school attainment in Sutton continued to be really good. I will publish a specific briefing note on key headlines for everybody to the intranet pages and will let you know through the blog when it is available. It’s very likely that the performance will continue to see Sutton ranked as one of the highest performing LA’s for both primary and secondary education.

You will know by now that we were unsuccessful in our preference for a local school to sponsor Camden Juniors. It converted to an academy on 1st September with Harris as the sponsor and is now known as the Harris Junior Academy Carshalton. However we have a positive working relationship with Harris and I am sure that they will build on the excellent work done by the school, with the support of our school improvement staff last year, which saw Camden transformed from a school in an OfSTED category to one of the ten most improved schools in Sutton in only 12 months. So thanks and well done to everyone in our division who contributed to this excellent turn around.

On the same day that Camden became an academy, Carew Manor moved to become Carew Academy and Orchard Hill College are the sponsors for that school. As with the other academies in Sutton, we already have a good working relationship with the new school and the sponsors.

DMT Meetings

We have had several DMT meetings since I last sent a blog update. On 9th Septmber we reviewed our latest Performance dashboard, the Annual Report of the Corporate Parenting Forum and agreed a draft of a CYPLD QA Framework. On September 24th we looked at our budget position across CYPLD at Month 5. The savings for CYPLD have been confirmed between our division and Sharman Lawson’s division. There remain challenges in managing the social care budgets especially the constant need to scrutinise our placements budget and our staffing costs because of differentials between permanent and agency staff. The other key item on that agenda was to agree making DMT nominations for the Council’s “Rising Stars” development and training programme. We submitted 6 nomineess from CYPLD, 4 of whom are based in our division. I have written to those nominated from our division to let them know. The fact that 4 of the 6 nominees came from our division is a further indication that there are a lot of good things happening across our services and that we have many very talented officers in our various teams. There is another DMT meeting todaywhere we will consider the draft CYPLD Health and Safety report, a summary report on our statutory responsibilities forMissing Children and a disussion on the new OfSTED Inpection Framework for “children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers.”

Primary Partnership / Middle Tier

As you know, we are looking at a new model of delivery for some of our school improvement services, including one possibility of proposing to work in partnership with our primary schools. Over the summer the Heads and Governors have worked up an emerging business case and we have had a number of discussions with them on different aspects. The outline proposals were put to a meeting of all school governors representatives a couple of weeks ago. From there the Heads and Governors will refine their proposals and then publish a draft to every primary school for them to consider in principle at their Autumn Term Governing Body meetings. On the Council side of things we are currently preparing to discuss the proposal with CMT, and then, if it progresses as a possibility, with elected members and staff in due course.

Divisional Budget Advice Sessions

We held the first of our budget support sessions for budget managers at the Quad on October 4th. The materials and the programme were put together by Sarah Alderman, Jackie Bulbrook and Nia Lewis and the focus is on providing practical advice and guidance on budget monitoring. The feedback from those who came to the first sessions was good and I think they found it helpful – and that’s the point of it. There are further sessions already scheduled for 1st November and 6th December. We are aware that the first of those clashes with the school half term holiday so we are looking at adding an additional session and we will advise you on that in due course

Youth MP Elections

Ingrid Bard, who is currently leading on Youth Engagement work in the short term has started the process of advertising the forthcoming elections for the new Sutton Youth MP and Deputy Youth MP. Nominations are currently open and will close on October 25th. Voting will be from 11th to the 22nd of November. If there are young people with whom you work, who you think would be interested and effective in these key roles representing the views and perspectives of Sutton’s young people, please encourage them to put themselves forward

Early Years Literacy Family Engagement Programme

We are rolling out this important initiative through our Children’s Centres, working in  partnership with the National Literacy Trust.   The aim is to work with partner agencies in identifying families who would benefit from, but are currently not engaging with, our children’s centres.  ( We are expected to identify 10 families per Children’s Centre). Once identified and referred in, the families will receive peer support in the children’s centre engaging in literacy based activities. 

And this is where you come in! We need volunteers to support this programme – and we need the not insubstantial number of 100!!!!! At the last count we were up to 35 and the Children’s Centres are continuing to work on it. But we need your help – so please consider volunteering yourself and in addiiton if you know of a colleague or friend who lives in Sutton please encourage them to join in too. It will mean about a day for training, probably split over a couple of sessions in December followed by giving 6 hours of your time between January and March next year to provide face to face support for an hour a week to one family. You’ll be asked to support and encourage the family working through some materials from the National Literacy Trust designed to encourage families with the acquisition of early literacy skills.

And just to show that occassionally I do put my own time where my mouth is(!!), I have volunteered myself. So think of it this way – if I can do it anybody can do it! 

If you are interested in being a volunteer – and I really do hope that lots of you will be – please contact Jenny Kelly at the Family Information and Development Service on 020 8409 7454 or by email on

Music Tips Part Two (in case you were waiting patiently on another one of these)

My current favourites aren’t quite as floaty and gentle in sound as London Grammar. Turin Brakes are one of my favourite bands who’ve been around for a while. They are two guys who met at school in South London singing in the school choir! This is from their new album that I am playing almost constantly at home at the moment – if you like this, you’d like the rest of the album – it’s a bit special – honest!

And Finally………..

………………..Some of you know this story but for those who don’t………………!

In early Sept I got on the train to start my journey to work. At one point a bloke got on with a bag that was clearly very heavy. He put it on the floor. I assumed it must be tools. Suddenly and of its own volition, the bag whipped round! Everybody including me just stared first at the bag, then up at him. And then tempting fate someone asked what was in the bag. “My pet snake!” he replied nonchalantly! Around 90 seconds later the train pulled into Stratford – and I led the virtual stampede off that train (there was no chivalry in this – it was raw terror!). As it pulled out I had to pretend that getting off at Stratford to then get on the next train was the most natural thing in the world – but I need not have been embarassed for there were at least another ten or more doing exactly the same as me!!

Enjoy your day and your week!


8 thoughts on “It’s Easy To Express But Hard To Tell!…..”

  1. Personally I like these lyrics -Feeling my way through the darkness
    Guided by a beating heart
    I can’t tell where the journey will end
    But I know where to start

    They tell me I’m too young to understand
    They say I’m caught up in a dream
    Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes
    Well that’s fine by me

    So wake me up when it’s all over

    When I’m wiser and I’m older
    All this time I was finding myself
    And I didn’t know I was lost

    I tried carrying the weight of the world

    But I only have two hands
    Hope I get the chance to travel the world
    But I don’t have any plans

    Wish that I could stay forever this young
    Not afraid to close my eyes
    Life’s a game made for everyone
    And love is the prize

    So wake me up when it’s all over
    When I’m wiser and I’m older
    All this time I was finding myself
    And I didn’t know I was lost

    Didn’t know I was lost
    I didn’t know I was lost
    I didn’t know I was lost

    I didn’t know (didn’t know, didn’t know)
    As for Joni M -I prefer ‘Both Sides Now.

    1. I know the song you refer to – I probably prefer the lyrics to the song. As for Joni I’m a lover of The Hissing Of Summer Lawns album. Boy does that take me back to my hippy youth!

  2. Looking forward to seeing how the elections go, let us know if there is any way we can help even if it’s just counting votes!

    Oh, and I highly recommend We Have Band – this track (Divisive) in particular has been stuck in my head for just over a week now…

    1. I will pass on offer of help to Ingrid! As for We Have Band I like this too – I read about them a few weeks ago in NME I think ( I admit I am probably the oldest person alive still reading NME every week!)

  3. The lead singer of Turin Brakes is my friends husband, great guy and fantastic band and their new album is superb !

    1. Nadia. Without terrifying him, I think they are both wonderful so can you pass on my personal congrats and thanks – new album is wow and they’ve given me so much pleasure over the years! Turin Brakes have been one of my favourite bands since “The Optimist” album and have seen them many times. I even went from Essex to see them in a little club in Liverpool (think it was called Kazimir!) and am going to see them in Brighton later this year. So I’m a bit of a fan to say the least!!!!!! But not in a scary way – honest.

      1. His wife Rachel is my friend so I will tell her you replied and the positive comments you have made, and she will let Olly know

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