Find Your Voice……..

………………………ON NATIONAL TAKEOVER DAY

Our Youth Engagement work is continually being developed and as part of it we took part in National Takeover Day this year. This programme, run through the Office for the Children’s Commissioner, allows  young people the chance to work with adults for the day and be involved in decision-making. We had six young people join us this year, all candidates for the forthcoming Youth MP elections for 2015. The students were Oliwia Geisler and Rose Baker from Greenshaw, Granthick Barua from Wallington Boys, Erin Horsley  from Wallington Girls, Ethan Smith from Stanley Park and Farida Augustine from Sutton High. As part of the day they got the opportunity to shadow managers in our division working with Claudette, Sharon and Paul at the Quad, as well as managers in other parts of the Council, working with Andreas who heads up corporate communications and Victoria who is the Head of the Chief Executive office. They also got to meet a group of elected members chaired by the Leader, Cllr Dombey and what was undoubtedly the highlight of the day for them – 4 of them had a short meeting with me! Mind you as much of my meeting focused on the travails of being a touch OCD, attention seeking and how it never leaves you, and a discussion on the merits of Batman, I have to admit that meeting with me might not have been at the forefront of their minds as a……………learning experience?!

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Is it a trick of the light or are all the young people taller than me?!

 

I was delighted that we had so many young people wanting to take part and I’m grateful to those  staff who gave their time to support the event. Above all, my thanks to Lee for the work he put in to setting this up, and to everyone who helped him with the organisation of the day. The young people made this video to set out their ambitions and commitments for the forthcoming Youth MP elections  (no reference to being inspired by meeting with me surprisingly!)

CHILDREN’S CENTRES

We have a lot of attention focused on the role of our Children’s Centres at the moment and if anything, this is likely to increase quite a bit further in the next few months. Jackie and I have visited a number of the Centres to discuss how the providers will mitigate the impact of the recent Council decision to revise their funding by 14% in 2015-2016. In almost every case so far the Centres have found ways to avoid any direct impact on families in the short term by either making adjustments to their costs or by using their projected balances for the end of this year. The report to members on Children’s Centres Options for the future, making proposals about the role of our centres from 2016 onwards is in the final stage of drafting and will be considered byk members at the Children Family and Education Committee meeting on December 18th as planned. We’ve used the meetings with Centre providers to keep them informed of about the development of that Options Report, and it’s likely focus, as we have drafted it. A small group of elected members are now also involved in a series of visits and meetings about Children’s Centres for a Task and Finish Group review and they will use that experience and the perspective they have gained when members subsequently consider the Options Report.

SALES OF THE ORENDA by JOSEPH BOYDEN!

Well I’ve not heard of any sudden upsurge in sales of The Orenda, the novel about the Iroquois which I recommended to you all in recent briefings! So I am clear that in my campaign to prove the Booker Prize committee wrong I will get precious little in the way of back up from all of you!

So be it!

I’m not disheartened because I’m used to my recommendations being ignored – I’ve certainly had a lot of practice being ignored at home!!

As ‘The Orenda’ isn’t your cup of tea (though it really, really, really, really, really, SHOULD BE!!!!!),  I have decided to recommend a film instead! I urge you to go see ‘The Imitation Game’, about the World War Two Enigma Code breaker Alan Turing. It’s a really great film and a terrific, though ultimately tragic story – and Benedict Cumberbatch really is as good as everyone says he is – don’t get me wrong I know he’s not the Adonis my family seem to think he is leading to mass sighing and ridiculous suggestions at home that he’s somehow better looking than me ( I’m not seeing it myself…..) but even I can admit……he can act!

ENGAGING WITH TEAM MEETINGS

I’ve started a further round of joining in with Team Meetings. Last week I was fascinated to sit in on the Virtual Schools Team Meeting. I couldn’t help but be struck by how much the approach has been refined and targeted and I can see that we are now much better placed to track and influence LAC pupil attainment and progress. Later this week I’m looking forward to meeting the Family Information and Development Service, the Speech and Language Service and I’ve also got visits coming up to the provisions at Sutton Out Of School and the play service based at Lindbergh Play Centre.

STRANGE THINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND – PART 6 and 1/4

My travels are a perennial source of ennui and chaos usually – but occasionally they have a lighter side. This week I saw a bloke walking across a crowded Victoria-rush-hour concourse carrying………….a floor lamp! God knows where he was going or why!

Taking the instruction to "Let There Be Light" one level beyond the walking floor lamp!
Taking the instruction to “Let There Be Light” one level beyond the walking floor lamp!

I also saw a couple of famous (ish) footballers on the Tube! In the middle of last week I got on the Victoria Line and there was Steve Sidwell who currently plays for Fulham! The following day I was on the Central Lime and who got on but Graeme Souness!………Well it might have been Graeme Souness …………………….though he was in painting overalls and carrying an extendible paint roller over one shoulder…….but I’m CONVINCED it was him! And I’m even more convinced it was definitely THE Steve Sidwell! (Or as my daughter called him when I told her ‘Who’s Steve Sidwell?!’!!!!!!)

DMT MEETING
At DMT last Monday we focused largely on reviewing the most recent improvement work against the documentation list and against the revised criteria in the updated OfSTED Safeguarding Inspection Framework. We’ve been working on a range of plans, policies and other documents that are needed as part of Annexe A (eg Early Help Strategy, LSCB Business’s Plan, Annual Report on LAC Attainment and Progress). Broadly everything we need is in place so we are now focusing on more detailed aspects within some of the Annexe A documents we will need to have available. Following on from this Richard gave us an overview from the recent series of case file audits. As anticipated they suggest practice and recording continues to improve overall but it’s not yet consistently as good as we want it to be. So we are focusing on what needs to be done to secure practice that is consistently good in all areas. The other main area of discussion at DMT was on budget. We reviewed Month 6 and for our division we are on track to deliver all of the required savings and an additional small underspend by the end of this financial year. We also reviewed the options for future budget savings. Members have asked for reports on Children’s Centres and Spinning Out Services to Schools for their December meeting and have decided that other potential saving options will be put forward to the March 2015 CFE Meeting.

COUNCIL RESTRUCTURE CONSULTATION AND SERVICES TO SCHOOLS FEASIBILITY STUDY
On Thursday last week the Chief Executive and myself were both meeting with school governors and Headteachers. Niall was discussing and responding to questions about the Council restructure proposals for children’s and adult services, and I was updating governors about the Services for Schools Spin Out Feasibility Study we’ve just gone out to tender on. Governors and Heads had a lot of questions as you’d expect on both items. At this stage I expect the initial high-level feasibility report back about the beginning of February next year. I’ve committed to sharing the initial report with schools and I will also share it with the relevant staff in CYPLD too. I anticipate reporting any recommendations for the next stage of consideration to members in March 2015.

CAMHS SERVICES

These are currently being recommissioned. At this stage the specifications are complete and have gone out to the market. Currently we are awaiting tender submissions and from there, staff from CYPLD will be working with partners from the Clinical Commissioning Group to complete the process . Once the decisions are taken and the contract is awarded I will let you know the outcome .

FAMILIES MATTER LOCALITY NEEDS ANALYSIS

To maintain the early help focus on the right priorities, we have had the Families Matter locality area needs analysis updated and we will be reviewing this imminently. We don’t anticipate any major changes in the needs profile for any of the areas, nor do we anticipate any shift in the balance of needs between the locality areas, but we will check these and will continue to do this on a regular basis. We will also be using this revised data to redraft the Council’s Early Help / Early Intervention Strategy. Once we have finalised the redraft I will make it available to you but will also provide a summary of the key points .

BOROUGH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STRATEGY

This has been redrafted by staff in the Safer Sutton Partnership. Jenny Rowley, Jackie and I are part of the Steering Group on DV  and we are currently working through the draft before we feed our comments back to the wider Strategy Steering Group members. This is a crucial document for us given both the prevalence and impact of DV in the lives of a number of the children and families we are supporting. Again once the strategy is finalised and agreed I will update you and let you know the key points.

AND FINALLY………..

…………………………………….I’m currently finishing the draft of this blog post on the early morning training out from Victoria. I have to share  with you that the guy in front of me fell asleep about 2 nano-seconds after he got on at Clapham Junction (a talent reserved exclusively for men of a certain vintage according to my family!!!!!!!) Since then he’s been snoring all the way but better than that is he is…………………….well………………………………………….let’s just say he’s rather noisily expelling wind……………………………………….and with an astonishing frequency!!!!!

I’m typing with a pencil between my teeth to stop me giggling out loud!!!!!!!! ( NOTE TO SELF – Should spend less time giggling and typing and more time looking at surroundings – just looked up to see train pull out of Carshalton Station and have missed my stop – AGAIN!! Aaaaaaaagh!)

AND FINALLY, FINALLY…………DON’T BOTHER FINDING YOUR VOICE ON THIS ONE!!!!!

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( This space was initially left blank to allow me to add a comment on last weeks Scotland v England football – but for some reason I find I’ve sort of……………………………………………….nothing to say!!!!!!! – For once don’t feel you need to leave any comment whatsoever! It’s bad enough at home!)

 

 

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Let’s Hear It For………..

…… I’d mentioned at the time of the staff briefings that I wanted to improve how I recognise the work you do and I said I planned to introduce some sort of ‘Staff Appreciation Awards’ (for  want of a better title). It’s just a way for Jackie, Claudette, Nigel, and I to celebrate what you do, let everyone else know what you do, and say thank you really.

The first staff nominations were made in the last two weeks and so we have invited those staff to the first appreciation event which will be afternoon tea at Whitehall House in CHEAM on December 8th. So without further ado……my congratulations and my thanks to the following staff who were nominated……………………..

Sylvie Bennett….who stepped into the gap in managing our CPD programme for schools and essentially ensured it kept to the same high standards it has always set – without Sylvie it would have been a very different story

Jackie Bulbrook……who provides consistently high quality and wonderfully flexible support and guidance to the management of the pretty complex budgets in our education services

Suzanne Cripps……who has given over 25 years service to Sutton and who was instrumental in the leadership of the first Multi-Agency Locality Team Pilot

Jenny Lambert….who is the Fleet and Finance Officer for the Integrated Services for Young People, based at the Quad in the main. Jenny also has over 25 years service and still manages to be as flexible and helpful as ever….and does it all with a smile!

Rob Murly…..who manages the Joint Adolescent Service and who is another staff member with over 25 years of unwavering commitment to supporting young people in Sutton.

Rebecca Pearse…. who hasn’t been with us as long but has made a positive impact since she joined us as a teacher in our ASD service.

Sara Thomas……who has had a consistent and positive impact on many families in Sutton through her work as a family therapist.

Natalie Tole…..who somehow not only manages our NEET tracker of countless young people up to date but who has also been part of the overall success of our NEET performance in recent years

Nadine Wyatt…. who was instrumental in designing and establishing what I think is a really really good performance management system for Families Matter and early help

I know you are all good at celebrating one anothers’ achievements and consistently good at supporting one another, so I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating and thanking all of the staff who’ve been nominated for this first round of Staff Appreciation Awards. Mind you, if you want to contact them directly yourself, or leave your specific congrats and well dones more publicly, in the form of a comment here, feel free to do so, using the little box at the top of the post.

I was going to finish this post with a video clip of Cliff Richard singing ‘Congratulations’ – but to be honest it’s so excruciatingly awful I couldn’t bear to listen to it! So instead here’s just a few succinct but absolutely perfect words from a man who I admire, John F Kennedy …………………………………and he was probably a better singer than Cliff too!!!!!!!!!!

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Says it all really! Thank you Sylvie…..Jackie…..Suzanne…..Jenny….. Rob…..Rebecca…..Sara…..Natalie…..and Nadine.

 

 

 

 

A Dijkstra’s Algorithm Moment……….!

……..Albert Einstein once said “Information is not knowledge” and so on that basis I’ll work on the premise that my blog should do more than inform……..hence Dijkstra’s Algorithm.

Because just as my last blog broke the record for the longest between blog posts – this week I’m setting a new record for the shortest! Now I could have introduced that with info about one of the shortest records ever made ( the classic “Spider Pig!” from the Simpsons movie at only 62 seconds long), or given you info on the shortest time between a movie and its sequel ( because The Matrix was then “Reloaded” only 174 days later as the sequel) or I could even have stated the truly obvious by reminding you that in 1830, Louis-Antoine became the King of France for……well……..20 minutes before he abdicated – making him the shortest reigning monarch ever! But you knew all those already I guess!

So instead I thought I’d enlighten you with information about Dijkstra’s Algorithm – which is the algebraic formula for calculating the shortest route between any vertex and any other vertex!!! Now you might not think this is useful – but think again! Imagine tonight you decide to go on a detour home – via Glasgow and via York AND via Bristol say? Well you can use Djikstra’s algorithm to work out the shortest route of doing that! Great eh?……Of course you could always go straight home but where’s the fun in that!?! And, to continue that learning theme, please study carefully this video outlining the philosophy of the Spider Pig!

GETTING TO GOOD PLAN

Following on from the OfSTED and DfE visits during the last year and OfSTED’s Thematic Inspection of Leadership and Management, we are using their findings and the current safeguarding inspection framework to plan the next phase of the Improvement Plan. The focus now is on areas for change which will secure provision as good. As part of the work, Richard Nash is leading a review of aspects of practice across a number of our front-line teams. It will include our work at the Joint Adolescent Service and at Sutton Family Centre.

FAMILIES MATTER

The new integrated locality focused early help service is now in place. It’s based at Tweeddale and combines what was previously MALT, the Early Intervention and Prevention Service and Families Matter. We’ve retained the Families Matter name for the new service. It’s been a complex and difficult change for the staff in all three teams but already the initial signs of the approach are good. We’ve got a new outcome-focused performance system in place and it’s shown that in just three months the work of our early help service at Tweeddale has had a positive impact on families, especially in improving the effectiveness of parenting.  It also tells that in most cases, our support has the positive effect we are looking for fairly swiftly because of the 125 cases closed to date, the average time the case had been open was only 1.6 months.

POPULARITY ON BUSES!

Quite often I take the bus from the Essex village where I live into Epping to get the Tube. It’s your archetypal route through a succession of villages stopping what feels like every twenty yards! But here’s the thing – no matter how busy it gets nobody ever sits next to me!! In fact some mornings people STAND rather than sit next to me!!!! Should I be worried about this?????!!!!!!!

MIND THE GAP!

As I mentioned above my journey to and from work is a pretty long commute – but being shunned by Essex bus passengers aside, it can be entertaining at times. Earlier this week I caught a Northern line train to Morden but which was them halted early at Kennington. So they got the passengers off the train onto the platform and two Underground staff made their way down the platform looking at each carriage to ensure it was empty. Just as they reached me, near the front of the train, one of the staff signalled to the driver it was good to go – just at the moment when her colleague decided for some reason to get onto the train! The doors shut and off the train went with this poor guy helplessly stuck in the carriage! Now while she was a bit distressed and worried my fellow commuters did what I did, we giggled. But the giggling for me turned to hysteria when she spoke into her radio and said “Hello control? Er….there’s been a little…… problem with the train on platform 2……………ask Charlie?…………….well that’s the little problem actually!”

I was still giggling when I got to Morden! And I never did find out what happened to Charlie!!!

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It’s really never been easy to avoid accidents if you’re called Charlie!

STAFF BRIEFINGS

My thanks to those of you who came to the staff briefings over the last two weeks. I hope the info was of some use and it gave you a little more detail on the priorities and the issues we will have to tackle in the months ahead. I will get the dates for the next round of briefings arranged through Business Support and get these out to you as soon as they are finalised. I’m grateful for the helpful feedback and advice I got from some of you about the challenge of hearing the info, and perhaps seeing it too, when we ran the final session in the Sports Hall. So we won’t do it that way in future.

Once the final briefing is done next week I will get Claire to type up my notes and we will make a copy of the presentation slides available for anyone who didn’t get the chance to attend.

CHILDRENS CENTRES TASK AND FINISH GROUP

As you know we are currently preparing proposals for the future use of Children’s Centres and members will consider those proposals and decide which they intend to consult on when the Children Family and Education Committee meets on December 18th. As part of the preparation for considering those options a small group of members have been asked to conduct a short but in-depth look at what our Children’s Centres deliver and how families access and use this support. As part of the work we expect members will include: visits to a sample of centres, discussions with service users and discussions with staff in centres. The Task and Finish Group report will then be considered by the full Children Family and Education Committee in December.

I THINK MY DOG IS TERRIFIED OF OFSTED!!!

When Sutton was inspected last year the Keep in Touch meetings with inspectors every morning meant I needed to leave home a bit earlier. Now I always walk the dog before I start so if you’re mad enough, you can meet us most mornings about 5:00 am in the fields around Ongar! But during the inspection I decided to take him earlier and to a different place closer to home to save time! Our dog is a Golden Retriever and he LOVES water. I’d not expected it to be an issue in this shorter walk as the riverbank is too steep – or so I thought! Anyway just after 5,  and down the bank he goes and into the river – except he can’t get out again. So I go down the steep bank to pull him out – but with the gradient, and the mud, and the weight of the dog,……..well you can guess the rest! In I went and had to wade downstream to where the bank wasn’t as steep – not pleasant at anytime but in the middle of the night – madness!

OfSTED's new Inspector recruitment programme had attracted a more diverse set of candidates than ever before!
OfSTED’s new Inspector recruitment programme had attracted a more diverse set of candidates than ever before!

And he’s not done it since – till last week! My partner is the Director of Adult and Children’s Services in another London Borough – last week they had OfSTED arrive Tuesday morning! We discussed the first day had gone on the Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning I took the dog for his usual walk at 5:00am – in he goes……and gets stuck! I have to wade in again and get him out – second ! Now at first I thought nothing of it – but as I tramped soaked and shivering through the early morning streets I realised that OfSTED connection, two early morning ‘swims’ and two OfSTED Inspections – I was going to complain that they are frightening the dog but then decided to keep it quiet just in case  OfSTED decide to introduce a special mid-inspection judgement about how effectively Children’s Services leaders manage the risk of going river-wading with a Golden Retriever in the hours before dawn!!

MEETING PRIMARY HEADTEACHERS

I had the opportunity to meet again with Sutton’s Primary Heads this week to share a little bit more information with them about what the Council will be doing in the next few weeks on a feasibility study for possibly spinning out some more Council services to schools. Jackie and I have also begun a series of visits to schools which manage Children’s Centres on our behalf to discuss how they will manage the Council’s recent decision to reduce funding to centres for 15-16 and the jalso to give them more detail on the timetable for the report which we will finalise at the beginning of December on the future use of Children’s Centres.

NEW / ADDITIONAL BUSINESS SUPPORT

Claire and Clemmi have a new admin support officer to support my fellow Exec Heads and I in CYPLD. Rachael Qureshi is now working for us, based at the Grove and as Rachael will focus more on managing my diary, tasks and documentation I thought it would be good to share her contact details with all of you. So you can get Rachael directly on eemail at rachael.qureshi@sutton.gov.uk and by phone at 020 8770 5827

CHILDREN’S SERVICES REDESIGN

We’ve just appointed a new Programme Manager for this, following interviews last week. Alexandra Cossley is joining us from Brent Council in early January and she will lead the project management of the next phase of the Children’s Redesign. I will also distribute a Children’s Redesign Newsletter tomorrow to the rest of CYPLD as a “Word” document, but for ease of access for staff in my division, I will also “publish it’ on the blog tomorrow

AND FINALLY……………..

…………………………………. time is precious – as last week’s tick follows tock follows tick follows tock film highlighted. So I’m always trying to save time and multi-task – even though I know all the gender stereotypes about how we males find that a little……challenging! Well this week it proved not only challenging but dangerous! I came back to Grove from a meeting and walked through the park while writing and reading e-mails – and just outside the nursery I walked straight into the open gate! I nearly knocked what little brain I have left clean out of my head…but worse all the mums waiting to collect their kids from pre-school came to my aid, asking if I was OK!! Acutely, excruciatingly embarrassing……..although it was nice to get the attention I suppose…..but I don’t plan to repeat the trick anytime soon as I doubt I have much grey matter left!

AND FINALLY, AND FINALLY……………

……………As I have mentioned before the quickest way to get these to you is if you subscribe to the blog – if you click the link and leave your email it will be sent to you directly. And if you want to leave a comment, please, please do it…….there’s a little link at the top of each post – and if you leave a comment I will get back to you.

AND DEFINITELY FINALLY…………

I think you all forgot to ask me the detail of the book I recommended at the briefings…cos I know you’ll all buy it, read it, and help me prove the Booker Prize Committee wrong for 2014 – so you can find out more about Joseph Boyden’s utterly wonderous ‘The Orenda’  here at my book blog ‘The Only Way Is Reading’ – but above all – try it….please try it! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Tick Follows Tock Follows Tick Follows Tock…….

 

…….What do Toy Story 3, Pink Floyd’s album The Division Bell and an Irish two-year child called Katie Elliot all have in common?……………..No idea…………………………………..Well hopefully the Guinness Ad ‘The Surfer’ (surely the best ad of all time!!!!?!) will give you a massive clue!!

For Toy Story 3, Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell and Katie Elliot were all delayed by as much, and sometimes by even more time, than this blog post has been delayed!!!!!!!!!!! Its been a really really really long time between blogs – Jackie, Claudette and others have given me hints and nudges with varying degrees of subtlety but it made no difference. And then Claudette gave me another nudge recently. So I decided to get on with it.

If you are wondering about those delays……well Toy Story 3 was an incredible 11 YEARS after Toy Story 2, Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell was released 7 years after A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, the album which had preceded it, and perhaps most amazing of all Katie Elliot holds the world record at the moment for the longest gap between her birth and that of her twin – for her sister Amy had been born a barely believable 87 days earlier!

For all the hype at the time apparently less anticipated than one of my blog posts!
For all the hype at the time apparently Toy Story 3 was a lot less anticipated than one of my blog posts!

I am really sorry to have been so awful at communicating and I will try and make sure you don’t wait anywhere near as long in future – and I will try not to follow Pink Floyd’s example in particular – for having delayed the release of Division Bell by 7 years, it’s now been TWENTY YEARS since it…..and nothing! So my aim is to try and get another blog out to you before the end of November – otherwise I’ll see you in 2034!

CONSULTATION ON COUNCIL RESTRUCTURE

You may well have seen that the Chief Executive has published proposals to members for a restructure of Council Directorates. For CYPLD specifically, the key proposal the paper sets out is the merger of Children’s and Adults Services into one Directorate. It’s an approach which has been followed in some other Councils.  I’ve got some personal experience of it as my partner is the joint Director of Children’s and Adults in another London Borough and some professional experience of it as I worked under this arrangement in a previous role. At this stage Sutton are consulting on it and that consultation is in the first instance with all those directly affected – in other words the Directors and Executive Heads in the Council. From that there will obviously be a report back to members and of course all staff will have access to that. In addition, as with any consultation within the Council there will be an opportunity to express a view. I’ll give you further information on it, and discuss the implications of it during our divisional briefings which are coming up in early November

SPEAKING OF WHICH………

The invites for those divisional briefings have been drafted and there will be 4 sessions for you to choose from this autumn. I’ll do each of the briefings at the Quad and I hope you will make it to at least one of those sessions. If you don’t receive the invite through Claire Cremins in Business Support, drop Claire an e-mail and she will pass on the relevant info about the dates and times of each session. By having four sessions I want to give you as much chance as possible of being able to attend. The downside though is that this is too many to ask the Heads of Service to attend for each session so I’ve simply asked Jackie, Nigel and Claudette to attend one of the four sessions. My apologies if that means you don’t get an answer to a question you raise at a session – however I will take a note of any questions i can’t answer and the relevant HoS will get back to you in due course

SMARTER COUNCIL SAVINGS WITHIN OUR DIVISION

Members made a recent decision at the Children Family and Education Committee to implement a further raft of saving proposals. Among these was a proposal to reduce the funding to Children’s Centres for April 2015. Jackie and I are currently visiting all the Children’s Centres to meet with the leadership teams to discuss the implications and how we might mitigate any impact on service users and for staff.

We’ve also discussed some further options with both members and the Corporate Management Team in recent weeks and we are finalising a further set of proposals for the next CFE committee in December. I will also include an outline of the savings target and options we are looking at as part of the staff briefings over the next few weeks.

TEAM MEETINGS

I’ve begun a series of visits to your team meetings and I know that several are already in my diary – and in fact I’ve already been at team meetings with both the Families Matter service and with Sutton Family Centre. If you’d like me to come along to one of your team meetings let me know through Claire Cremins in Business Support

STAFF CHANGES

There have been several changes across our division. I will try and update on some of the key ones and my apologies for any which I miss. In Advisory and Inspection, our previous Primary Lead Chris Jacobs has moved on. Chris played a key role along with his colleagues in the primary team, the primary inspectors and the schools themselves in raising standards in Sutton to where they are now with Sutton’s Primary Schools the highest performing in the country this year. Chris is replaced by Kate Evans as the new primary lead and we have adjusted a number of roles and responsibilities within the advisory service as a result.

We are now recruiting to the management roles within the restructured Families Matter Service and recently Celia Allotey has started as a new assistant team manager overseeing the work of the Blue Locality within the service. Over the coming weeks we will be recruiting to other posts within the service.

Our Business Support in CYPLD has changed quite a bit in recent months, especially as Vanessa moved on from her previous post as my PA and of course Janice Hamilton and Joan Martin both retired from roles as PA’s in CYPLD. In the main my Business Support is currently provided by Claire Cremins, who was previously a PA for Richard. Claire is currently supporting the three Exec Heads along with Clemmi Bartholomew who is Tolis’ new PA. We are waiting on another member of staff to join Business Support at The Grove and I will let you now when that is finalised. In the interim though, if you need to contact me for anything then Claire is the best route to get to me. Lastly Debbie Whitton has moved on from her role as the project manager for our Children’s Service Redesign and we are interviewing for a replacement later this week.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES (Hairdressers!)

Several months back I had a haircut at the little hairdressers in the Essex village where I live. Alas even though I asked for it to be ‘just tidied up a bit’ I came across the most enthusiastic hairdresser in the UK.  Hours later I was virtually shaven-headed – now I know some of you will be thinking why didn’t I say something sooner but we men don’t do that – we just sit passively. At the end when she showed me and asked if it was okay all I could utter was a sound like “hmmwa” – somewhere between a whimper and a slow moan! Then a few weeks ago, now that it’s grown back I tried again this time in Carshalton. I asked for a tidy up and came across the most reluctant hairdresser in the UK – I think she cut about four hairs individually – even I couldn’t tell the difference! And to make it worse, while my daughter was at home watching Anchorman she commented “That guy has the same hairstyle as you Col!” As you can see this is neither fair nor accurate – is it?! (Mind you I’m not participating in Movember this year just in case!)

I don't see any similarity between my mullet and any of these guys really.......
I don’t see any similarity between my mullet and any of these guys really…….

IT TRANSFORMATION

As part of the digital changes the Council is implementing I’ve recently made the transition from Outlook to Google for diary, tasks, email etc. I like it and am finding it good to work with although I know that others have found it more problematic. I think much of what we are experiencing at present are minor issues and once everyone has transferred things will get easier. In the short term though I know it causes some minor problems if you are trying to arrange for me to attend meetings etc. However pretty much everyone will be transferring to Google in the near future if you have not done so already

A further part of the IT programme is upgrades to both the CYPLD intranet and internet. There are a number of managers across our division currently updating the context for their ‘part’ of the new site and when these are ready, IT will begin the process of converting these and uploading them to the new site which will have a changed look and feel. Once it’s complete I will send you the relevant link to check it for yourself.

DIET HARD 4 – BUT NO BRUCE WILLIS!

My family’s concerns about my weight haven’t gone away so I’m on yet another diet – I’ve lost track of what it’s called – all I know is I’m hungry (and I don’t seem to be any less overweight either!!) And to make matters worse I seem to be surrounded by references to food –  yesterday I was just emerging from a morning doze on the Central Line and got on the train at Victoria – the guy opposite sat down with a breakfast from Burger King and then two seconds later a woman with a tray of fantastically decorated cupcakes sat next to me. I don’t now what the world endurance record is for salivating but I kept it up all the way from Victoria to Sutton yesterday!

These are the burgers I see when Im hungry!
These are the burgers I see when Im hungry!

 

And finally………..

……………A couple of weeks back I had the rarest of experiences – a Friday night at home with the house all to myself. My daughter was on a sleepover and my partner was at a staff night out. So I could watch what I wanted. I settled down to of course sport, and spent the first few hours watching cricket from Pakistan. Then I discovered a series of music documentaries on BBC 3 all about a guilty pleasure of mine – ABBA! I was engrossed in it, and I admit signing along when I heard sniggering behind me – it was later than I thought and my secret Abba adoration is now out! I’ve been mercilessly ribbed ever since! Who would have thought that loving the tune of Mamma Mia could be the cause of so much pain?! But as my love of Abba is now an open secret, here is a wee taste of one of my favourite Abba covers. This is James Walsh of Starsailor covering Dancing Queen – and I am in the audience – and yes I certainly am singing along!