Most of us will be moving across in the next few weeks to the modern desktop arrangement as part of the next stage in the delivery of the Council’s IT Strategy. Some parts of the Council have gone ‘live’ on the new system recently and now the preparations are underway for the transfer of all of the People Directorate. We will be moving to Modern Desktop in phases and we will be going ‘live’ across June and July.

The modern desktop is a key part of the infrastructure we need to have in place for the flexible working programme, which will essentially see us able to log onto ‘our’ screen from any workstation in the Council. FlintstonesAlthough the flexible working arrangement will focus largely on the staff who are either in the Civic Offices, or scheduled to relocate to the Civic Offices, it’s still important that all of you do what you need to so that you are prepared for the transition to modern desktop, whether you are based at Tweeddale, the Grove, the Quad, Bandon Hill, Chaucer, Sutton West or one of our Children’s Centres (or anywhere else for that matter – the range of places we are all located always means there’s a risk I miss one or two when am listing them!)

You will need to do the work to clean up your folders and files in readiness for the change. The instructions on what you need to do are listed in Insights which have come out but if you have any concerns or queries, feel free to email me – I won’t have a clue what the answer will be but I will be able to pass you on to someone who can answer your questions!


Some of the SEN staff in the office behind the one I live in at the Grove (when I’m not on a bus or a Tube!) have this great whiteboard where they post a quote of the week – it’s a really good idea and I’m now in the habit of looking out for it! I thought I’d share their most recent offering even though there’s part of me realising that this is only partly funny for me as there is also a part of me that actually BELIEVES this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



I’ve been looking for a way to have both a more frequent way of updating you all and a more interactive platform – so that it isn’t just mean blathering on and you struggling to get to the end of these blogs! We decided to look at what others are doing so Alex Cossey and I spent some time with Marcus Rees-Harris in Housing. We got Marcus to talk us through the way his service was using Google Communities and it was one of those light bulb moments (at my age I don’t get them very often!) – the more Marcus showed us the more I felt this was a pretty good solution to the challenge of communicating with all of you little and often and in a way that allows it to be interactive.


I’ve set up our EdnEarl community (and you can find it by following that green link!). All you need to do is ask to join – I will say yes and then you will get updates regularly. But it’s for more than just getting info – the community will allow you to post info yourself, ask questions, make comments and generally be as engaged as you want to be. I want all of you to sign up so that we are no longer reliant on e-mail distribution to get info to you.

And in addition to our own EdnEarl Community, I also recommend the ICT Community Exchange (ICE), which is run by the shared ICT Service. I find it a source of information, tips and problem solving without the need to go through the IT Helpdesk!


Having given all of you great tips on books to read (yes I’m still banging on about The Orenda) and great music guaranteed to make any of you trendy no matter how old you are (yes I’m still banging on about Local Natives), a brief check at the sales for the aforementioned book and songs suggest that you pretty much ignore my exhortations! Which is your choice/loss (depending on whether you see that from your perspective or mine!) – but I am not giving up!

This week I want to promote both a book AND a film! I went to the cinema to see Child 44, starring Tom Hardy (who reminds me of…………………well…………… really!) and is based on the Child 44book by Tom Rob Smith. The film is great – it’s such an engaging story and the setting (Moscow at the height of the Stalin purges) is simply wonderfully portrayed. But one of my stock in trade phrases at home is ‘the book is always better’ – and this is no exception! So by all means go see the film but if you like a thriller and crime novel rolled into one – try Child 44 – brilliant! And to whet your appetite (and to show you just how much I DO REMIND YOU of Tom Hardy even though you perhaps didn’t think I did remind you of him at first!!!) here’s the trailer!


We have had two meetings of the Directorate Management Team since we merged with Adult Services to form the People Directorate. On 20th April much of the meeting focused on the end of year financial position and the managers across the service have been finishing their reports on any budget variations and where relevant submitting bids for carry forwards. The key decision made on 20th was agreeing a Staff Engagement Plan that Alex Cossey had drafted. We will be sharing the details of that and then implementing it imminently. At the second DMT meeting this week we had an update from Annette Madden on the development of the next stage of the Business Support Service, this time focused on safeguarding and SEN in the main. We also had two reports in, both on projects connected to the Redesign of Children’s Key Services (ROCKS – I’m a sucker for an acronym!) – the first was on the Education Service Spin Out and the independent Feasibility Study we had done and the second was the report from the extensive Children’s Centre Consultation, led by Jackie McCarthy and Sarah Duggan. Both reports progressed to CMT in the middle of this week and once I’ve made some adjustments, we will share the details and the key points from both reports.


Ah the sights (and this week the sounds) of London Underground have come up trumps again! On my travels this week I saw a guy carrying not one double bass but two! He had one on his back and one in his hand! It just left me thinking he’d heard of a one man-band but hadn’t quite grasped the idea of it!

The next step up in the 'Two Double Base' Challenge seems to be how to carry them when they aren't in cases!
The next step up in the ‘Two Double Base’ Challenge seems to be how to carry them when they aren’t in cases!

Second up was a bloke on the Circle Line. If you know it you’ll know they have the new style carriages – and that they are a bit of a sound chamber. The train pulls into Aldgate on the way round to Liverpool Street when he announces, louder than I think he intended – “Did you know that Aldgate Tube Station is built on top of a pile of corpses who were buried in a pit after they died during the Bubonic Plague!” – Cue was of those awkward eerie silences. But I swear there was a guy who was just about to get off the train at Aldgate who changed his mind just in case! (and I checked it after – it’s true! Very boring it has to be said, but true) But as this blog seeks to educate as well as inform and entertain ( I always think it’s good to state that it entertains just in case you’d missed that!) I have researched the Plague Pits of London and can tell you that around 1665 a great plague pit was dug on StBotolph’s Church in Aldgate!

Under this street in Aldgate is the Tube and Aldgate Station! And underneath that...............I'd rather not think about it!
Under this street in Aldgate is the Tube and Aldgate Station! And underneath that……………I’d rather not think about it!

Likely LadsLast up I was rushing down into the Tube at Victoria late one night when I met a guy at the top of the stairs looking around, clearly lost and searching for something. I then realised it was James Bolam the actor! And immediately my brain had a ridiculous thought and I had to consciously stop myself going up to him, as he looked all confused and perplexed,and ask “Are you wondering what happened to the Likely Lads by any chance!?!”The thought of it left me giggling all the way to Oxford Circus – I’m very good at amusing myself! (Most of you will be too young to know what I’m talking about – next time you see Nigel ask him for it’s probably only he and I who are old enough to remember it!)


Nigel and I attended a recent meeting of the Inclusion Review Steering Group to plan how out we might take forward the proposed review of options for the future delivery of Alternative Provision in the borough for young people who cannot access mainstream education because of exclusion or because of medical needs. Over the coming weeks we will be meeting regularly with the three Heads on the steering group as well as with representatives from the alternative education provisions at Limes and STARS. We are also completing the analysis of the consultation with schools about the future provision of support for Inclusion. The findings will be collated into a narrative which we will share with all relevant staff as well as with all schools. Lastly, Colin Pates and Ceris Edwards are finalising a check on a number of procedural reviews around the provision of support for pupils with SEN. These will be collated into a draft Handbook which will then again be shared with all schools, as well as with services and parents where relevant.


On Wednesday morning I will be visiting Sutton’s Ways to Work Programme with Charlotte Owens in our Education Business Partnership. The programme is part of a range of initiatives led by the EBP, focused on ensuring our young people have all the skills and understanding they need to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them when they leave school. So I’m looking forward to the visit to Carshalton College and will try and share the visit through Twitter whenever I can.


One of the reasons for setting up that Google Community I mentioned earlier is that I think we need ways of communicating which are more than just me sending out information. I’m acutely aware how busy you all are and I don’t want to add unnecessarily to anyone’s workload, but equally I want to give you the opportunity to communicate back to me and also communicate to your colleagues. These things are of course optional, but for those of you who want to ‘join in’ I plan to set up a couple of new things for the blog pages.

Firstly, as we are becoming a bigger and more varied division, with SEN and Admissions joining recently and the revised Commissioning service joining imminently, I think it’s important that I give the opportunity to some of you to let your colleagues know what you do. So we’ll be setting up a blog called “So What Is It You Do Around Here Anyway?” – it will be a chance for you to talk about what your main activities are, who you work with, what you are trying to impact on, the successes and the challenges. It will be set up as a QandA – I’ll provide the Q – all you have to do is provide the A! This is as with all these things entirely voluntary but I know how good our services are, so I hope lots of you will want to showcase your bit of it to the rest of the division. If you want to take part, just send me an email and let me know you’re interested.

Secondly, as well as getting to know what you do in work, I’m also keen to find a way to share things about you as a person and what makes you tick. I promise this won’t be intrusive or embarrassing, and again it’ll be entirely voluntary anyway. I will simply send you a list of 10 random questions and all you have to do is provide your answers that we will then publish through the blog! So again if you are interested in doing it send me an e-mail and let me know!

Lastly there are other ways you can stay informed and involved. The quickest way to get the blog updates is to sign up – it’s easy and all you have to do is follow the link on your left (at least it should be on your left!) – There are already over 200 of you following the blog this way which is great – but the aim is to get all of you signed up. Other than the blog, I’d encourage you to sign up for our new Google Community that I mentioned earlier and lastly, you can join Twitter (it’s not as bad as you may have heard and it’s a very quick way of communicating short pieces of info). It’s free and once you set up an account (all free) you can find me @EdnEarl and ‘follow’ me. You can get Twitter apps for your phones and iPads. I believe there is also a way to follow my Twitter feed WITHOUT having a Twitter account of your own – you get the Tweets as text messages! However unless you have unlimited texts as part of your phone package, that might cost you money – and while I want you to have me words of wisdom, EVEN I KNOW THEY’RE NOT WORTH PAYING FOR!

And finally……………………………………….

………………………………………………………………My families efforts to make me healthier, smarter, trendier, slimmer etc are by now familiar to you – as are their repeated failures! This time my partner has decided what I need is to open my horizons to new experiences for my inner well being! So a couple of weeks ago she announced she had a surprise for me – we were going to the opera later that day to see Madame Butterfly! I was aghast – I am as you know a trendy old bloke Madame B 1following indie rock bands – so I immediately frowned, moaned, claimed I was ill etc etc! But I was forced into it. So I went to the Royal Opera House for my first taste of the dreaded opera. It started and all my fears………………….DIDNT come true. From the first note I was utterly mesmerised. By the interval I was a wreck – my eyes were swollen from crying and Madame Butterfly was still at least 90 minutes from the ending at this point!!!!!

Madame-Butterfly 2

I literally cried and held my breath all the way through the Second Act. I have never seen anything even remotely like it in my life – it was simply fantastic! So if you have never tried the opera I urge you to go and try it! And if you are already an opera fan, I can’t believe you’ve let me go all these years and not told me what I was missing!

…………………………..Have a good week!



Staff Celebration Nominees

…………………..We’ve got the third Education and Early Intervention Staff Celebration Event coming up on the 20th May  – and the staff who have been nominated are listed below.

So firstly my thanks and well done’s to all those nominated on this occasion and secondly I thought that if one of your colleagues is on the list they’d probably be too reserved to tell you – so I thought I should!

For this third event, the nominations include a couple of staff nominated last time but who were unable to attend. So, this time around, the staff nominated were

Julia Cohen in School Attendance

Tracy Bell in Sutton’s Education Business Partnership

bravo and wow

Brian Duffus in Youth Offending Team

Lisa Luff in Families Matter

Lesley Smith in School Exclusions


Catherine Atkinson in SEN

Sharon Godwin in Integrated Services Young Children

Jasmine Swallow in Joint Adolescent Service


Cathy Hoyle in Sutton Family Centre

Tracey McKibbin in Sutton Youth Service

Judith Almeida in School Admissions Service

applause 1