ON THE HORIZON SEPT 26TH TO SEPT 30TH
NEW CHILD MISSING EDUCATION GUIDANCE
We had new statutory guidance out from DfE on this over the summer. Peter from Admissions and Gill from Attendance have prepared an initial review, self assessment and briefing notes on the changes. We’ll meet this week to go through those and from there we’ll be deciding what our priorities are in the weeks and months ahead.
IF MUSIC LITERALLY BE THE FOOD OF LOVE….
The women in my life, and even the dog, seem to be consumed already with that irritating nonsense called X Factor. I can never quite tell whether this programme is really about talent spotting, Cowell making money or just finding a way to absolutely irritate the sweet life out of me! I can’t help but chunter and moan and grumble about it every time I pass through the room when they are watching it! But this weekend they got their own back – I was in another room singing and playing my guitar delivering what I thought was a romantic and uplifting version of a Bon Iver song. I was interrupted with a long and abusive critique of my performance which concluded by suggesting that my guitar playing sounded like it was being done by a man wearing oven gloves!!!! There’s a cruelty in our house that makes me realise that if X Factor judging needs really vicious comments and someone to play the role of a ‘nasty’ judge, they should forget Cowell and the others and just hold the auditions in our lounge!
CHILDREN’S TRUST BOARD
This remains a critical part of the governance and leadership arrangements in the borough especially on partnership wide priorities like Early Help. The Board meets today and among the papers, we have submitted reports from: Chris on Post-14 work; from Jackie on both Early Help and Young Carers; from Terry on the Commissioning Review of Advocacy Services; from Paul on Youth Services Directory; and from Sandie on Traveller Education. I will be attending to cover for Tolis.
POST 14 EMPLOYABILITY BOARD
Chris Jones and I will be among the officers attending this joint meeting of Council, employers, training providers, schools and colleges. The papers include an update report on Education Service Spin Out, an update on NEET and a report on the post-16 offer in Sutton.
STRANGE THINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND PART FIFTEEN AND A HALF
Last week I was on my way to a meeting at Bank. As I was on my way up the escalator to leave the station three blokes were on the adjacent escalator on the way down – or to be more exact two blokes were on the way down carrying a life size cardboard cut out of Sam Allardyce the new England manager between them!! Now it’s tempting to add some barbed jokes and jibes at the England team as a result but I will resist – you’ve got enough problems without me adding to your woes!
The spin out preparations continue. We held TUPE consultation meetings last week and this week William and I meet with the schools who have decided to become shareholders in the new Joint Venture. That meeting will focus on the shareholder agreements between the schools and the company and will also seek to confirm how the schools will select their representatives for the new company Board of Directors. The Education Service Management Team meet tomorrow and William, Sharon and I will be attending. As you would expect the spin out preparations are likely to be the main item of focus especially now that school ‘orders’ for newly available traded services are starting to come in, with the first of these received last week. In addition as part of the TUPE consultations I will be meeting some staff one to one this week.
DILBERT ON…. MAKING MONEY
As ou know we have to turn the education services more towards trading and increasing revenue to meet costs. I saw this and print it only as I think it’s funny – it’s not meant to be a sign of things to come!!!!!!!
HEALTH AND SAFETY
A combination of restructure arrangements and staff changes has left us with a need to both update risk assessments and training on Health and Safety. Nadine from the commissioning team has been working with Christine from corporate Health and Safety on this and we will meet to review progress and next steps later this week.
IF NOT THE ORENDA, THEN TRY THIS!
I have pretty much given up on my efforts to encourage all of you to buy, read and marvel at the wonderful tale of The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. So instead I’d like to recommend Eimear MacBride’s fabulous book ‘The Lesser Bohemians’ which has just been released. I can understand that you might not want to cart around a hardback but when this comes out in paperback next month I can thoroughly recommend it. It is very different and has a unique writing style ( if you read her last book ‘A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing’ you will know exactly what I mean – if you didn’t read it….well you should have done!)
BUDGET MONTH 5
I have reviewed our budget position at month 5 with Heads of Service and Finance and will meet to finalise this on Tuesday. The underlying position is that we are likely to report a drop in our projected overspend by the end of the year. We still have cost pressures in meeting the demand for Child In Need in SFC and JAS, supporting Families with No Recourse to Public Funds and the costs of some SEN Transport. However some in-year changes by Heads of Service in other areas has helped to offset part of this pressure. In the middle of the week we will be back at the Corporate Finance Monitoring challenge meet which is used to scrutinise expenditure across the People Directorate.
CHILDREN FAMILIES AND EDUCATION COMMITTEE
The first members meeting of the Autumn takes place on Thursday. Interestingly it’s the first members meeting for a couple of years where we don’t have any reports in for key decisions. The reports which are on the agenda are Pupil Place Planning and Capital Programme report from Kieran and a report from Corporate Performance on the performance indicators for children’s services that will be reported to CFE. The majority of these will be children’s safeguarding indicators ( and some of you contribute to these) but those which relate directly to us at this stage are indicators on proportions of good and outstanding schools, youth offending, school exclusions and the proportion of cases transferring from Early Help to statutory services
DSG SAVINGS PROGRAMME
As well as reporting on our overall budget position at Month 5, we will also be reporting on the current position in the education and schools budget, the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). This is projecting a large overspend by year end with cost pressures in SEN and Alternative Provision. As a result we need to develop an options appraisal for schools to be consulted on in due course which will begin a savings programme within the DSG. On Thursday Sue Holmes in Finance will be working with me all day on the Options Report that we will present initially to the School Forum Formula Review Group next Tuesday evening. At this stage we don’t know any details but the review will include considering the scope to reduce school budgets in the Schools Block of the DSG, reduce the costs of SEN and school exclusions in the High Needs Block of the DSG, and the scope to reduce expenditure in almost all parts of the Central Block of the DSG. Once we’ve met with the Formula Review Group next week I will update you on the details in the Options Appraisal.
Following DfE announcements, I can confirm that the Harris Federation have been approved to run a new Secondary Free School in Sutton and Orchard Hill College Academy Trust have been approved to open a new Special School which will effectively extend the numbers of pupils at Carew Academy and move the whole school to a new building.
…………………………………………………………..As I mentioned last week my partner and I went up to see Macbeth at The Globe ( which turned out to be a bit weird really – an extra witch and suddenly Macbeth and Lady M have a child!!!! What’s that about????). Anyway we stayed in a hotel near StPaul’s and while checking in I noticed someone I knew really well. I was about to bellow ‘Matthew! How are you?” across the lobby when I realised just in time that it wasn’t someone I knew from Glasgow but Matthew Pinsent the Olympic rower. Now I’ve made a very similar faux pas before – I was in a London pub when I saw a bloke I knew from Glasgow – I went up, said hello and clapped him on the back with a hale and hearty “How are you mate? I haven’t seen you in years!”. To which Timothy Spall the actor kindly replied “I’m well. How are you?!!!!!!!”
So I said nothing to Matthew, having learned from bitter experience that in public places like hotel lobbies and pubs, there’s never anywhere to hide when you are dying of embarrassment!