Tag Archives: Academies

My Epilogue, My Swan Song and the Bru de Grace!

For my last ever weekly update I thought I’d mix in the odd bit of information about what’s going on in Sutton with a wee homage to my home city.

As you know I’ve spent the last week and a bit up there after my Dad passed away. People have been incredibly understanding and nice to me since I came back yesterday – but my Dad would want me to cheer up and I  think if there’s one thing Glasgow can do as well as anywhere in the world…it is cheer you up! And it’s also rather timely to finish my last blog post with a homage to my home city – as you all know last weekend a Scotsman became the greatest tennis player in the world (Go on Andy my son!) and this weekend Scotland will of course batter England in the European Football qualifier at Wembley on Friday night! And of course after a week and a half at home……if you thought my accent was strong before you should hear it now!

So, without any further jingoistic ado…….


After a huge amount of work by so many people and a massive commitment from staff and schools, the new spin out company Sutton Education Services Ltd has now gone live. We’ve completed the transfer of around 200 staff from the Council to the company for the start of this week and our new life as a trading company starts here. In so many ways I’ll be sorry not to be part of this but I will watch it from across the river with great interest – and with confidence that it will be the success that the schools and the staff who work in it deserve it to be.

While William will of course provide much more detailed feedback to staff in the company I thought I’d updated all of you on where we are. The contract with the Council (all 180 pages of it!) is now completed and signed off. The first interview process for the new company was held last week and successfully made an appointment of an Operations Director. School sign ups for traded services from the company have now passed £200K in value and the school shareholders have begun the process of choosing who will represent them on the Board of Directors. On the Council side of it we are already at work advertising for a Chair for the Board and for other Non-Exec Directors. And crucially the search for the Managing Director is now well under way working through a specialist recruitment agency.

There’s still a long way to go to make sure the company is financially secure and commercially successful but this feels like a bit of a watershed moment. So even though it’s early days, it’s taken some time and a fair bit of graft from a lot of people to get to this point so I think we can at least look back with some pride at what we’ve achieved so far and look forward with some confidence to what we’ll achieve in the future.


Tolis is currently on annual leave having gone home to Greece for a week and he will be back next week. It’s been an unfortunate consequence of me having to Glasgow last week that I won’t get to see him before I go but I will be writing to schools and staff later this week to give more detail about the handover and cover arrangements as we’ve now agreed these.


One of the best compliments I’ve ever had came from Cllr Hookway when he found out I was moving on from Sutton – he kindly said the only way that CFE meetings could be more entertaining was if the Council appointed Billy Connolly!

Much as I loved it I know I’m not in the great man’s league – when I was around 16 and actually talking seriously about wanting to be a stand-up comedian when I left school, my Dad got me a summer holiday job in the shipyards for two reasons – firstly so I could stop scrounging money from him and secondly so I could learn that in Glasgow, EVERYBODY thinks they are Billy Connolly!! Here are my favourite lines from the great man

‘Never trust a man who when left alone with a tea cosy……doesn’t try it on!’

‘Marriage is a wonderful invention – but then so is a bicycle repair kit!’

‘Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares, you’re a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!’

‘There are two seasons in Scotland – June and Winter!’

‘Glaswegians are actually pale blue….it takes us at least a week of sunbathing before we start to turn white!!’

‘I’m a huge Hollywood film star you know….. but you have to hurry to the movies cos I usually play the guy who gets killed in the first 15 minutes!’

‘My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking ‘Ah yes…The Lone Ranger!!’


Jackie has now moved to her new role as one of Richard’s Heads of Service, having started in that job last week. As we’ve mentioned previously there are a number of follow on changes from that and from my decision to move on. As I guess you would expect this is continuing to evolve. So to update further, Kieran will remain as a Council officer and will effectively be the point of contact for most things linked to education and he will fulfil a number of the duties as the senior education officer in the same way as I do at the moment.

At the DMT meeting this week we had reports tabled on Commissioning from Voluntary Sector and on Crèche Service Provisions. The meeting was a fairly light agenda apart from these two items.


Officially more difficult for most of you than walking like an Egyptian, the Glasgow dialect isn’t easy to listen to – and as for speaking it –  you have no chance! When I was a teacher I used to get the kids in my classes down here to try saying a Glasgow dialect poem aloud – I pretended I was teaching them something about the rhythm of language but really it was just an excuse for me to giggle and fall about laughing as the kids tried to adapt their Essex and London voices to Glaswegian words. And if you think I’m exaggerating try and read this……………..it’s the Glasgow classic Lament For A Lost Dinner Ticket by Margaret Hamilton……..


The Council has set this board up as part of the governance structure for spin outs such as Sutton Education Services. In due course we’ll report in to this board for decisions on key issues like the appointment of a Chair of the SES Directors and provide updates on performance. But although the Board meets this week we don’t have any items on this agenda and so the focus is on the Council Housing delivery unit.

As mentioned before Orchard Hill Academy Trust were successful on a bid to government for a new Free Special School which will effectively replace the current Carew Academy. We are meeting Orchard Hill and their representatives this week to begin considering a preferred site option for the new school to be built upon. It will no doubt be some time yet before a site is confirmed but once it is work can then begin on considering design and planning issues. Notwithstanding any future considerations about a site it’s an exciting development and a chance to drastically improve the learning environment and facilities for Carew students into the future.


The strange twisted words of Glasgow not only allow us to talk to fellow Glaswegians in a code nobody else can understand, it also opens up a whole new world of possibilities for puns and plays on words. Here are a selection of Glaswegian shopkeepers with a sense of ……well the ridiculous really!






On a similar note the extension to Sherwood Park School, Sherwood Hill, is now complete up at the old Stanley Park High site. The school is another example of how we can create radically improved facilities and learning conditions for pupils with additional needs.

Following decisions by Schools Forum and the Children Family and Education Committee, we have now commenced a consultation on a proposal to merge Limes College with STARS Medical PRU. The merger proposal would see the settings have integrated leadership, governance and some support services but remain separate Education provisions on separate sites. If you are interested in the consultation I will publish a link to it through the Google Community later this week.


They might hail from Edinburgh – i.e. they are posh – but joining in with this is probably the closest you’ll get to being a Glaswegian…………….

As I’ve mentioned previously, the overall funding position for the DSG is challenging and likely to see a deficit in the future unless we implement a programme of activities to reduce costs. With that in mind we are about to consult schools on a range of DSG savings options and also begin to consult schools on revising the funding arrangements for individual pupils with Special Educational Needs. We’ll be publishing both this week and I will make the link to them available for those interested through the Google Community.

Sarah has recently provided an update to the LSCB on Early Help. Among the details in that report it confirms that work is now underway to analyse the risk factors in a sample of 100 CIN and CP cases so we can use this in the development of an Early Help data set. We know from experience that while there are lots of things we can ‘measure’ about impact and outcomes for children and young people, it’s crucial that we measure the things which make the biggest difference – and the review of cases will help steer that consideration of what does make the biggest difference.
The Early Help Multi-Agency Assessment Tool went live at the beginning of September and so we are visiting teams and schools and other settings to support its use. We’re using those visits to raise awareness of that assessment tool and other thinks like the new Early Help Directory, which is an extension and improvement on the previous Family Services Directory. Sarah has also started to provide regular updates on Early Help through a newsletter and if you’re on Twitter you can follow the work on @EarlyHelpSutton


Jokes are as much a part of Glasgow as how we say ‘Curly Wurly’, the perennial rain and asking for a ‘roll with square sausage’. These are particularly Glaswegian jokes though – so you have to think and say it as a Glaswegian would to get it – good luck – if you’ve any chance of getting these you’ll need it!

A woman goes to the dentist in Glasgow. He’s an Englishman. He invites her to sit in the chair and asks ‘Comfy there?’

‘Naw’ she replies. ‘I’m frae Govan!’

Following the members decision to set up a different kind of Targeted Youth Service, focused exclusively on children at risk of entering care and in children at risk of school exclusion, we’ve been working to set up a structure and establishment to deliver what’s needed. As part of that we’ve had to restructure our management in this area and so Laura Noulton will now head up this service. The first exclusion risk referrals into it came through at the October Vulnerable Pupil Panel and the service is now ‘live’.


A man goes into the bakers in Glasgow and says to the baker ‘Is that a donut or a meringue?’

‘Naw’ says the baker, ‘you’re right enough. It’s a donut!’

One of the key reasons for setting up the education spin out was the strength and quality of school leadership in Sutton. We already have a small number of schools who are recognised as teaching schools or as designated leaders in education. I was delighted to hear this week that Sharon Roberts, who heads up our Education Service and is the Headteacher at Stanley Park Infants has been selected as a National Leader in Education. I think those of us who’ve seen Sharon’s work as Head of Service won’t be surprised that she’s been chosen. So my congratulations to Sharon and her school on this richly deserved recognition.

We have had further changes with schools moving away from LA Maintained Status. Brookfield Primary has now become an Academy and is part of the Leo Trust led by Cheam Park Farm School.
In addition, a group of schools at Amy Johnson Primary, Beddington Infants, Culvers House Primary, Dorchester Primary,  Foresters Primary, Muschamp Primary, Nonsuch Primary, and Sherwood Park Special School have decided to set up a Foundation Trust together ased on Co-Op values. The schools are collectively consulting on the proposal between now and the 22ndof November. If it progresses after that consultation there will be a statutory notice period till December 22nd so effectively I’d expect any Trust to commence from January 2017.


Question – There are two cows standing in a field. Which one is on holiday?

Answer – The one with a wee calf!

And to continue the bovine theme to end

Question – There are ten cows in a field in Scotland. Which one is originally from the Middle East?

Answer – Coo Eight!


Lesley and the SEN service hosted a visit from Charlie Palmer from the DfE who came to review the set up and implementation of the SEND Reforms here. I know from initial feedback that the visit proved useful for us – however I also know that the timetable wasn’t followed as we’d intended so it left a number of people waiting around. So my thanks to Lesley and everyone else who did the preparatory work and hosted the visit from DfE. We don’t know what the feedback will be but when we receive it in due course we expect it to confirm that while we will still have things to change and improve, the pace of development and implementation in Sutton is broadly in line with the pace of change for SEND services everywhere else in the country.


I will of course have my last day here in Sutton this Friday.  I’ve been sent an invite to a lunch at the Quad on Friday so if you are there I hope to see you and say goodbye. But for those I don’t see I will post a short goodbye blog post on Friday


……………………………………………………… When I was in Scotland with my family last week, we did a lot of reminiscing as all families do at difficult times. As part of that we were looking through old photographs and my partner and daughter were especially thrilled to come across a photograph of me when I was in Year 7- and what they loved most was that my hairstyle then was exactly the same as it is now – 42 years later!!!!

As you can imagine I got a fair bit of abuse for that but I’m not too bothered…………………………….. I’m telling myself what it really means is that even though I’m in my 50’s,  I have been in style since 1973!!!!

………………………… I just hope that after the football on Friday night I’m not forced to add on ‘And I’ve been waiting for a win at Wembley since 1973 too!!!’

Enjoy the rest of your week


A Man Called Donato……… A Silverback Gorilla………………And The Walthamstow High Street Karaoke!


As I didn’t get a blog post out for the start of last week to look ahead I thought I’d at least update you with a look back at the week just gone as well as a look ahead to the one to come! So if you feel the need to read this all the way to the end of this blog post maybe do it in instalments!

Most mornings when I come through Victoria I meet Donato who sells The Big Issue from his pitch by WH Smith in the station. He’s now 70 years old, originally from Turin and a friendly, polite, lovely guy. I try and stop for him two or three times a week. This morning he proudly thrust the magazine into my hand because he’s featured in it. And he was doubly proud because it’s the 25th anniversary edition of the magazine. So if you can, both this week and in the weeks to follow, please spare a few quid for Donato and anybody else selling the Big Issue. Because as you can read for yourself if you buy this weeks edition, it really can make a difference to people who just need a bit of help.


We had a pretty full agenda for Forum last Monday night. With the DSG under considerable financial pressure as funding restrictions increasingly impact on schools and education, several papers related to how we try and address this problem. I won’t cover all the reports here but the key things I think you might need to know or be interested in.The Forum took one last opportunity to review the draft Service Level Agreement for Targeted Youth Service work aimed at preventing school exclusions. There are a few changes to make as a result in: clarifying the need to liaise with schools and Limes College; reporting arrangements for performance and the referral and tracking arrangements through VPP. I don’t see any of the final changes as problematic or lengthy and so I expect the final SLA to go to all schools as scheduled next week.Another key paper was a set of proposals for savings to the DSG. We’d prepared these in conjunction with the Formula Review Group of the Forum and the proposals that are agreed for consultation are options on: changing base budget to all schools; changing funding arrangements for ‘growth’ in pupil number; revising the top up provision into the PRU’s; revising the top up for Special Educational Needs; and changing capacity levels for supporting pupils with ASD, Speech and Language Needs and Education as an Additional Language. We will now draft the different options up into a consultation document that we will send to all schools and staff in due course.Connected to the above, Schools Forum also considered a detailed set of proposals for adjusting the way in which we determine the top up rates for pupils with SEN who are educated in Special Schools or in mainstream schools with Specialist Bases. Again we will be consulting schools and others on these changes.All of the consultation feedback on the things above, as well as further budget reports on the current position within the DSG, will go through Formula Review Group and then back to Schools Forum in December


Apart from being the lyric to one of David Bowie’s best tracks IMHO, it’s also rather appropriate as there’s a lot of these around at the moment! So I thought I’d just summarise what’s happening as best I can.
I’ve advised education staff at briefings that I hope to recruit three Headteachers, working together for 2.5 days a week each, to provide line management support between my departure and the new Managing Director joining the spin out company. I expect this MD appointment in January and I hope to confirm on the Headteacher support arrangements later this week.
We have long listed the 10 applicants for the Ops Director role in the spin out down to a shortlist of 5. We will be reviewing those further before interviews in the first week of November. Our plan is that William will continue until he is able to do a handover to the new OD.
Outside of the education services, Jackie will be moving to replace Jean Kelly one of Richards’ Heads of Service. Jackie will then run FSCP and the services Jackie currently leads ( Early Help, Children’s Centres, Families Matter and Family Support) will also move to report in to Richard.
Tolis is currently considering options for the senior education role within the LA and I will let you know what those arrangements are as soon as possible.
The Council has agreed to my request to leave as soon as is practical and so my last day with Sutton will be Friday November 11th – so only a few more of these blogs/War and Peace missives to endure!!!!!
The DfE released revised statutory guidance on this over the summer. It lands at a time when we have made changes to the way in which we will manage the support and oversight for Children Missing Education from here on, following staff changes last academic year. The provision to CME will now be managed through our school attendance service and so Gill Harp is working along with Peter Gasparelli from Admissions on revising the guidance for schools, briefing heads and teachers, putting interim data collection arrangements in place and working out the resource needs for meeting the revised LA duty on CME in the future.
As I mentioned in the last blog I went off to the Cheltenham Literature Festival the weekend before last with my beloved!
And as I also mentioned, my suspicions about the extent to which I was really being ‘accompanied’ to see Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks, Mary Beard etc were somewhat confirmed when the journey to Cheltenham was peppered with references to ‘having heard what a great city it was’ and ‘what a great shopping area it has’!!!!
However, very unexpectedly I was actually ‘accompanied’ to Mary Beard’s talk about the Ancient Romans in the early part of Saturday evening.  At least I was ‘accompanied’ if you define that as simply the ‘physical presence’! However if you nuance your definition of ‘accompanied’ to ‘physical presence AND awake'(!!!), then I was most definitely unaccompanied!!!!
Although afterwards I was treated to a literary critique of Mary Beard’s talk about her book ‘SPQR’ as you could apparently ‘hear every word in your sleep’!
And as if Sleeping Beauty’s critique of Mary Beard wasn’t enough, I had the unusual, nay unique experience, of being asked what I was reading by the bloke next to me on the Tube as we sat waiting to depart Walthamstow in the middle of the week.
‘It’s the new poetry collection ‘Loop of Jade’ by Sarah Howe!’ I said eagerly, adding in the hope of sparking the conversation that ….’She won the TS Eliot Prize for it this year!’.
‘Oh!’ said my new neighbour, ‘bit dull for me! I like fishing’.
At which he took out a copy of Angling Times or The Only Way is Fishing or something of that ilk. For the rest of the journey to Victoria we didn’t exchange as much as a glance, never mind a word!
But I know that you’re all DESPERATE to read Loop of Jade so here’s a snippet to entice you!!!!!!!
I watched the shadowplay
of trees
against the blinds one October – 
in the way sometimes
you stare
at a pale face across the bed
so long 
you hardly see it – 
And for those of you now thinking….’I think I’d rather read ‘The Only Way is Fishing’……shame on you!!
At the Panel meet last week, we reviewed a number of cases for possible admission to Limes and also some possible admissions to STARS. At the moment, there are still spaces in both provisions but this isn’t likely to be the case as the academic year progresses. As part of the attempts to reduce the risks for young people we have the new Targeted Youth Service starting and we used the VPP meet to identify a few young people where we will work in conjunction with Limes to try and prevent the risk of exclusion.
As well as the progress in recruiting an OD as mentioned above we had a further two staff briefings as part of the TUPE consultation last week. We are following this with a further two briefings this week and a separate meeting with Trade Union colleagues supporting those affected by the changes.
As well as discussing line management arrangements when William and I met with team managers this week, we also discussed the work being done on branding and marketing (where a small group of staff are starting to develop ideas and options, supported by an external provider, that we can share with Directors and School Shareholders in due course) and we gave an update on the draft documentation being developed such as the contract between the Council and the company and the draft shareholder agreements (which were sent to school shareholders last week)
Last week the Exec Heads from across People’s met with the various Lead Members for Children’s and Adults to talk through the savings programme and the link between the savings and the Council’s outcomes and ambitions as set out in the Council Commissioning Plan.  For our services the focus is of course on the final stages of the changes to education and youth services and the early preparation for making sure early help from both us and our partners is supporting the wider transformation programme for our social care services
This week I will be meeting with Finance to review the division’s budget position as at Month 6 and updating the year end projections. We have been able to make some in-roads into cost pressures in the last couple of months but with continued rising costs for CIN and for SEN within the DSG, I expect those pressures to continue to be challenging in the months ahead
Most mornings I drive into Walthamstow Underground station and I listen to the news on Radio 4. But on the way home I need the soothe of either XFM Radio or a CD. Last week I left the car park and got to the main lights by Walthamstow High Street. It was a warmish end to the day so I had the window down and was lustily, if tunelessly, singing along to Radiohead. As I sat at the lights track 9, House of Cards came up. I joined in from the off, belting out the first line ‘I don’t want to be your lover………I just want to be your friend’ and then realised the car next to me at the lights also had the window down. There was an older couple and the lady in the passenger seat looked at me, smiled, and said ‘Probably just as well love, as my husband’s here!’  At that they drove off turning right – I went straight on and didn’t sing another word all the way home!
And to set the scene, here’s House of Cards ( and for what it’s worth it is my absolute favourite Radiohead song – try it you might be pleasantly surprised!!)
And anyway the video is seriously clever as it was filmed without the use of cameras!!!!

Kieran and I met with our colleague from DfE, who will be the main link on academy conversions into the future.
We have seen a slow but ongoing transition to academy status in Sutton, so for example recently we saw Tweeddale Primary become part of the Greenshaw Trust and Cheam Fields Primary become part of the Leo Trust. In the months ahead we expect to see Brookfield Primary and Stanley Park High complete the process on converting from LA maintained to Academy status.
For those of you involved in school improvement and SEN/Inclusion, you’ll be well aware of Sutton’s Local Offer site which we developed in conjunction with parents and young people.  It’s currently hosted separately from the Council website but the company who host it have intimated that they now need to upgrade it. We are therefore taking the opportunity to review and consider our options for the future provision of the Local Offer site and Rosemary Brennan and I are meeting colleagues from IT this week to look at the scope for change. meantime though if you are interested in taking a look the current Local Offer site you can find it here. 
I went straight to Denmark Road on Friday, where several of education services are now based, as I had a briefing with staff first thing . As I had stuff to catch up on I went in early getting to Denmark Road just after 7:30. Alas the back door of the building was locked and I couldn’t get in. I went to the front and though I could get in to reception area the doors to the offices were locked. I guessed they were on a timer and my pass wouldn’t work till 8. Two minutes later a member of EHR staff came in and went on through as his pass worked. I followed him. My pass didn’t work. I sat back down to wait when another EHR staff member came in and went through. I followed. My pass still wouldn’t work. I began to mutter darkly about IT, EHR bias and the world in general after it happened twice more. But on the fifth go it all worked fine when I suddenly realised I’d spent the last twenty minutes trying to get into the building with my Oyster Card!!!!!
This week sees the next meeting of the Early Help Strategy Board, which provides the governance, oversight and co-ordination to the work that we and our partners do on early help. Among the papers are reports on: the Early Help Dashboard (which tracks progress in implementing the new revised Early Help Strategy); an update on the Social Care Transformation Programme and the links with Early Help; an update on Early Help Training Programme; Family Group Conference Arrangement changes; and an update on the recently launched Early Help Assessment Tool
Later this week, Tolis will chair the next meeting of the Children’s Transformation Programme Board and on the same day the Sutton Disability Partnership Board meet, which will include taking some feedback from us on SEN issues and on tracking the sufficiency of childcare for children with disabilities across the borough
At the weekend I flew out of London for a city somewhere else – but for reasons that will now become clear I don’t intend to name it to protect its anonymity and because you’ll never be able to guess where it was. So having flown to this not-to-be-named city I checked into the hotel. I got my key and headed off to my room on the second floor when at the foot of the stairs I saw the following notice – parked on a table and written in large red letters.
It was certainly the most unusual and unique welcome I’ve ever had in a hotel (if not quite the ‘friendliest’ perhaps!!!!!)
Alas you are unlikely to experience this level of hospitality for yourself as of course you have NO IDEA WHERE IT IS AND NO CHANCE OF WORKING IT OUT FOR YOURSELVES!!
As you know from Insight, the Council are embarking on the development of a new Sutton Plan which will become the key driver for both the Council and all of its partners. Through Insight I know that you’ll have been sent details of how you might get involved in those conversations.
In addition, on Wednesday of this week members and Council officers are coming together to talk more with representatives of partner agencies. The focus of the session is on exploring the future, working with partners to set out the shared ambitions and aims for the people who will live and work in Sutton now and in the future. While I’m not going to be attending the session itself I will definitely catch up with my colleagues who are going to be there and in due course I will update you where i can on the key messages and thinking from the session on Wednesday.
…………………………………………………………… And that’s a witty Liverpudlian’s witty daughter!
I’m sure you read of the Silver-back Gorilla at London Zoo last which must have been a pretty scary ordeal for those involved. And while the women in my life did have sympathy for those people it was also too good a chance to miss. They think I’m ever-so-slightly ‘alpha-male’ so just after the news broke my partner texted to say ‘Just heard about silver-back mayhem and what a relief when found out it was London Zoo and not Sutton!’ and this was soon followed by the younger half of my very own version of Morecambe and Wise who sent me the text that said ‘Stop misbehaving and get back in your cage and play nicely’.
And as if ruining the personality part of my self-esteem wasn’t enough – when I got home my entreaties that the personality comparison between me and gorillas was a bit unfair, I then met the riposte that it wasn’t all a personality comparison – the fact that I was so short my knuckles scrape on the ground too was used to add stature injury to personality insult!!

This Is Misfortune Not Carelessness – Yet!

I think what Oscar is thinking is "Remember when you had long hair too Colin?!"
I think what Oscar is thinking is “Remember when you had long hair too Colin?!”

It was Oscar Wilde who said (although I’m misquoting slightly!) “To lose one PA may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose another looks like carelessness” And I mention it, not just because Oscar is always good for a quote, but because I’m about to lose Hilary as my PA!

Up till now the Exec Head PA role in our division has included an element of time working on Elective Home Education. Nigel has now reconfigured that work and brought it together with support for pupils who are excluded, or are at risk of exclusion and/or missing education. It means the Home Ed part of the role has been extended and so Hilary will be moving across to pick up this Home Ed role full time. So i need to recruit a temporary replacement for Hilary this week – in fact I’m interviewing tomorrow and Jackie’s PA Nia is helping me out with those. Hopefully I’ll have a new temporary PA confirmed by the end of this week and in place pretty soon thereafter.

In my last authority, the departure of a long standing and highly effective PA left me needing a temp – I then went through 5 in 8 months!!!! I know it won’t happen this time – if it happened a second time I’d get the message – it’s me not misfortune!!

Academy Conversions

These are continuing as previously mentioned. This week there are TUPE consultation meetings for the staff involved at Carew Manor and there are consultation meetings at Camden Juniors for parents and other interested parties with both potential sponsors, Greenshaw High and the Harris Federation. The parents at Camden have set up a Facebook site about the academisation proposals and although they have a clear preference (it’s called Go For Greenshaw!) it nevertheless gives a flavour of some local views about the school’s next stage of development. You can find their parents campaign Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/groups/480541998681907/

Half Term Holiday

I know many of you were on leave for all or part of last week so this will be the first day back for you. I hope you enjoyed the break and at least there’s a bit of sunshine to ease you back into things. For me last week wasn’t leave but my calendar had more spaces in a day than I normally get in a week! So not leave, but a kind of half-leave for me! This week – back to normal!

Response To The Staff Survey

I’ve not forgotten about this! I have taken the feedback you all gave me when we did staff briefings in March and used those ideas, and some of my own (well, maybe not my own, but those that I personally stole from other people and places!!!) and turned these into an Action Plan. It’s currently being reviewed by Nigel, Jackie and Claudette and then we’ll get the final version published here so you can see it.

As part of the Action Plan, I’ll be looking for volunteers to give me on-going feedback about how we are doing in making changes where they are needed and in letting me know what works and what doesn’t! (That will of course be a case of “ideas that work – mine! Ideas that don’t work – someone else’s!”). I’ll send the details for this feedback group (it’ll be a staff sounding board for our division really) in due course but I thought I’d give you an early “heads up”.

As you’d expect, it won’t offer you money, but it will offer you a cup of coffee – if you’re really lucky, you might even get your coffee in a……………….Contact Point Mug!

Locality Team Visits

Some of us have been visiting other LA’s where they already have locality based teams up and running. It’s given us a number of different perspectives and ideas, some of which have been really thought provoking. Ann, Sharman, Annette and I are meeting on Friday morning to look at some of the lessons we’ve learned and plan out a forthcoming workshop with some of our managers and some managers from partner agencies to further explore how locality teams might work in Sutton and what they might look like.

And Finally…….

………..Shame on you QPR fans who chose not to send in a comment to the last blog update, thereby missing the only chance to win a cup that you’re likely to get in the next 10 years!

Related to that, I was wondering, with QPR relegated, who I’ll get to tease next year about their lack of success in the Premier League – and then up pop Crystal Palace through the playoffs!!!! Oh joy! I’d be grateful if all you Palace fans could leave me your names so I can send gloating e-mails etc during next season!!!!!!

And Finally, And Finally………..

……………..I bought my daughter a trampoline on Sunday morning. We dragged it home in the car late Sunday morning. It said on the box – this will take approximately two hours to fit together. Like any kid she wanted it put together then and there! And doting Dad that I am, I obliged, even though it was nearly lunchtime! My daughter finally got to use it around 8:00pm!!!!! There was blood on the grass, my fingers are blistered, my throat is sore from muttering under my breath and I’ve got at least 2 bolts left over!!!!! DIY is clearly not one of my talents!!!!!

It Is Now Officially Safe To Go Back In The Water…….

………OfSTED have gone!! The Unannounced Inspection isn’t actually finished, as we will have exchanges with them as the report is worded up and finalised through their moderation process, but the on-site part of it is over.

I want to say thanks to everybody – whether for your direct engagement with the inspectors or for your indirect support to me with answers to queries, providing data, or providing documents and or for just asking me how the inspection was going even when it didn’t affect your area of work. I was struck by that in the last fortnight – everybody I met or spoke to, in schools, among governors, in corporate teams and in CYPLD teams outside of Early Intervention and Social Care, had asked me how it was going. It really did create that sense that everybody here realises that keeping Sutton’s children and young people protected from the risk of harm is everybody’s business.

Henry's complaints about the OfSTED Team judgements were met with their complaints about being given the narrowest feedback table in the world!!
Henry’s complaints about the OfSTED Team judgements were met with their complaints about being given the narrowest feedback table in the world!!

Tolis, Ann, Palvinder and I attended the OfSTED judgement meet last Wednesday. It’s a new-ish addition to the methodology and allowed us to observe their meeting which is them reviewing their evidence base, formulating their judgements and then testing one another out on those judgements. We were only allowed to observe and could say nothing (you even have to sit to one side so you don’t influence them with eye contact or body language!!!). It was almost impossible for me (as I like to talk as you all know!!!). It was however both informative and interesting. The best way to describe it is that it reminded me of watching the old Henry Fonda film ‘Twelve Angry Men’ – but without the anger!!!!

We then went from that meeting straight to the feedback meeting where they presented their provisional findings to the Council (CMT, key elected members, DMT). At this stage the judgements are confidential and have still to go through OfSTED moderation, and I’ve been through enough inspections to know that the moderation process frequently changes wording and sometimes even judgements!! So my apologies, but I’m not able to share the judgements at the moment. However, I will say the feedback matches our own view of progress so far and our own assessment of what we still need to do. In addition there were a lot of very positive comments in the feedback about the parts of our services that were focused on – Sutton Family Centre, Joint Adolescent Service, Early Intervention Prevention Service, our Children’s Centres, and support for Home Education and Children Missing Education. Overall, regardless of what might change through moderation, I’m certain that what won’t change is that they agree we are in a much better place than we were 12 months ago. The report is due to be published on June 24th. Once the report is finalised I will share the detail of those positive comments that came about our services during the inspection.

The Water Is Definitely Safe – I Know – I Checked It – Literally!
As you know, on hearing that OfSTED had arrived for an Unannounced Inspection last Monday, on the back of the DfE Review only just having finished, I admitted that my first thought was the Jaws film strap line ‘Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water!!’ I should have known better than to be even slightly irreverent about OfSTED! I tried to get in to work earlier in the day and as you know I live out in the Essex countryside, so during OfSTED I walked the dog just after dawn! And on one morning the dog shot off down the bank in pursuit of a rabbit and ended up in the river! Alas the bank was too steep for him to get out of the river so I had to go down the bank and get him – and of course if it was too steep for the dog………..! In I went for an early morning paddle!!!! Serves me right for tempting fate with comments about OfSTED and water!!!

Today we’re looking in more detail at the Unannounced Inspection feedback, to consider what changes or additions we might need to make to the Improvement Plan in light of their findings. We will also be considering two reports from our division with proposals for exploring future delivery structures for both our Schools Management Information Service and our Music Service, as part of the wider Children’s Services re-design.

Both our schools in OfSTED categories are now out to consultation on sponsored academy proposals. Carew’s consultation is now moving to the TUPE consultation for the staff. Meantime the Harris Federation are starting their consultation as DfE’s preferred sponsor for Camden Juniors. However Greenshaw High are now approved sponsors, and the preferred alternative sponsor of both the LA and the school Governing Body. The Camden consultation is therefore likely to be more contentious and if you live locally you may have seen local media stories about the consultation. The LA view here isn’t that Harris would be a ‘bad’ sponsor but simply that a local sponsor, through Greenshaw, is a much better solution for all the pupils at Camden than Harris will be.

The dog's Harry Potter audition didn't go well - but he accepted the consolation prize of being Dumbledore in our family home movie version of HP and the Deathly Hallows!
When it came to casting Dumbledore for a home movie version of Harry Potter, we were desperate!

The World of Harry Potter

I took my family to Harry Potter world in Hertfordshire last week. If you’ve not been I can thoroughly recommend it. I’ve seen only the one of the films but read all the books – so I loved it. The kids did too. However even if you’re not a fan of the films or books, it’s well worth a visit as it is quite brilliantly done!

Youth Service Intranet

The Youth Service have developed a great new resource area on the Intranet for forum discussions, sharing of information, storage of key documents for staff and for providing a central point for sharing resources. It’s got great potential, not only for the Youth Service, but for across our division. I’m currently looking at how I might use it and so any thoughts or suggestions let me know through leaving a comment. In the meantime, if you want to have a look you can find it here at http://www.suttonyouth.org/staff

Strange Objects On The Underground

Continuing my series of the weird and wonderful that I see on my way to and from work, which I know you all must have loved last time I wrote about it, if the feedback at home to the same news is anything to by (i.e. Partner “If seeing a bloke with a sword is the highlight of your day, you need to get out more”and Daughter “You are a very dull man!”). So in anticipation of brightening your day further and on the back of that ringing endorsement from my family, this weeks ‘Odd On The Underground’ were a bloke at Oxford Circus pushing an upright vacuum cleaner down the platform and a man at Victoria holding a massive arrangement of peacock feathers! More fascinating insights into life underground next time – maybe!


Please take the opportunity to sign up to the blog by clicking the ‘follow’ link on your right. It means you’ll get sent the updates automatically and so won’t be reliant on a link being sent out through the heads of service.

On another point, part of the advantage of a blog is the opportunity for sharing your thoughts, opinions, questions, and suggestions with me and your colleagues. But to date most of you seem wary of leaving comments! So, when I was drafting this last night and I was wondering how to encourage you, I happened to overhear the viewers competition on Britain’s Got Talent, which my family were watching!!!! The prize was £50000 cash, holidays in Las Vegas, New York and London, with tickets to shows. It was a “eureka moment!” Well, if a massive prize works for Old Cowell and his v-neck jumpers I thought, it’ll work for me!!!!!

As staff incentives go - it was a biggie - this wasn't a challenge for any old mug! (......then again!)
As staff incentives go – it was a biggie – this wasn’t a challenge for any old mug!

So having tried to coax you all to comment with questions, pleas and requests, I thought I’d try bribing you all with a prize you can’t resist instead. So, for the chance to win the fabulous prize on offer the question is even simpler than those on TV. Here it is!!!!!! Just by leaving a comment that says “Choose Me! Choose Me! Choose me! you could win – a beautful “Contact Point” mug (eBay re-sale value estimated, by me, at £50K plus!!!!!), photos of Glasgow AND Greenock and MP3 samples of me singing songs from Sound of Music and Les Mis!!!!!!! Now if that doesn’t make all of you use the comments for the first time, then I give up!!!!

Up Coming……….

……….As part of the proposals to improve communications, the Chief Exec is hosting a series of 13 Roadshow events for staff between 24th June and the 25th July at various locations across Sutton. I’d like to encourage everyone to try and attend one of the sessions, which will also be attended by members of CMT and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council

Sooner than that, this Thursday, Tolis is hosting the next “Staff Sounding Board” session, on Thursday 30 May from 12.15-1.45pm in Meeting room 4 at the Civic Offices, so book now to avoid disappointment. Contact insight@sutton.gov.uk to reserve a space.

And Finally………

…………..Some of you have been kinder than kind in commenting favourably on the heinous act committed on my head last week in the name of hairdressing in Essex!!!! I remain unconvinced and in a state of shock! Consequently I am still sheltering beneath the Senior Management balaclava.

Charlie Brown - a philosopher to turn to in a crisis
Charlie Brown – a philosopher to turn to in a crisis

However my experience reminded me of a Charlie Brown cartoon where Charlie goes off to camp, and to avoid being teased about a rash on his head, he wears a paper bag! Bizarrely this truns him into a hero and he even gets elected camp president, known to all the kids as “Mr Sack!” Eventually Charlie Brown is persuaded by the other kids to remove the sack as they are desperate to know who the great guy under the paper bag is – with predictable and hilarious (though very sad) results. So learning from Charlie Brown’s experienece, the Senior Management balaclava is staying put till it grows back a bit more!