Tag Archives: DMT Meetings

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


Many Hands Make Light Work……….Apparently!

………………….. If you are linked in to our Education and Early Intervention Google Community then you will already know that the staff in the Quality Assurance and Category Management Service, where Jonathan Williams is the Head of Service, have now moved across to our division. So first up I’d like to welcome them and reiterate that I’m looking forward to working with them as we move through the year.

I was reading the HR Report for the People Directorate at the start of this week and one of the things I noticed was the actual number of staff in our division. There are quite a lot of you and with the addition of the staff who work with Jonathan it will bring us up to just under 450 people. It  makes us (in terms of numbers of people) the largest part of the Directorate and though I’ve not checked, it probably makes us the largest part of the Council too.

Now that number of staff isn’t that large in some ways as there are lots of organisations much bigger than us but nevertheless in Sutton Council terms, well it’s pretty big! And of course that brings its challenges – not least communicating with all of you. I do try and blog when I can but it’s not always possible to fit it in.  So, in line with an email I sent out recently I wanted to ask you all again if you could use your Google email to sign up to our Google community. It’s private to just those in our division and a much easier method for me to communicate with you because I can do it when I am out and about through my iPhone and iPad. But crucially communication is two-way and it’s not just a flow between me and all of you – it’s also a way for you to communicate with me and with each other.  And you can do that easily within the community. Anything you post, picture, text, link, video etc gets published immediately to everybody in our community can see it and it doesn’t sit waiting on me or someone else approving it.

So when you get the chance follow the link below and ask to join – we’ll confirm that almost immediately and from there its easy to use, to read and you yourself can access it on your own phone, tablet etc (you can get into it through an app or just use the internet).

Sign Up To Our Education and Early Intervention Google Community

Of course there are also benefits in having lots of people in our division. It simply increases the number of incredibly talented, hard working and clever people who work with us and that always make my day and my job much easier and more rewarding. It also means that we can do things that might be more difficult to do if there was only a handful of people – for example it makes it possible for us to run our own staff celebration events every 8 weeks and we can run our own staff briefings when we need them. But last night I was watching Modern Family ( my own family love Modern Family – and if you have seen it then we are a bit of a hybrid – my partner clearly models herself on Gloria – all gestures and fiery temper – and my daughter models herself on Haley with bits of Alex – and me……….well alas I’m essentially my families ‘Phil Dunphy’!!!!!! If you’ve not seen the programme then of course you have no idea what I am talking about – if you have you should by now feel very very very sorry for me!). Anyway, while watching Modern Family it was the episode where Mitchell joins a ‘flash mob’ to impress Cam – hilarious! And it got me thinking………………..could we use all those people in our division to do our own flash mob??????? Let me know what you think…………..and if you don’t know what a flash mob is here’s one of the best, done at Liverpool Street Station!!!!

A Good Blog Should…….

Well I know that of course the point of it is to inform – but as I’ve said before  a good blog should also amuse, entertain and educate (that’s a euphemism for ‘try to get you to like things I like!’) And of course, as you all know it also gives me a chance to pontificate about things I love or want to wax lyrical about……. the sort of stuff where if I do it at home everyone leaves the room?………………… sometimes apparently SO dull that even the dog leaves the room?! So for those of you who might be new to the blogs, some of what will follow might leave you wondering ‘what on earth is he on about?’ – if you do get that feel then just scroll down a bit!

And having said that it should educate/entertain/amuse, one of my loves is music and I frequently use ‘Shazam’ to capture bits of music I like but don’t recognise and then I go buy it and compile a playlist. So from my downloads for June, I’ve added five songs you really want in your life for you to check out! All wondrously fantastic – honest!


NUMBER 1 – This is a song called ‘Elation’ by the Isbells – you may not have heard of them but they are MASSIVE ………………….in Belgium (maybe because they are Belgian!) Anyway the song is uplifting and beautiful and I loved it…. if you like Bon Iver you’ll love it ……………and if you are thinking who on earth is Bon Iver……… well you should try him too!


We had DMT last Monday and the key points from the meeting were that performance in adults remains strong and the indicators are all largely positive. In Children’s the data shows that our numbers of LAC and Child in Need are stable and we’ve sen steady drops in the numbers subject to a plan – the current level is the lowest in over 14 months.

The HR report highlighted that the sickness and absence rate in our division is improving but it’s still on the high side compared to the rest of the Council so at the next Heads of Service meeting we will be looking at how we might improve it further. That report also showed that vacancy rates in Adults are low though they have gone up a bit recently while in Children’s the vacancy rate has gone up a little recently but there are a number of new appointments pending which should see that drop back again!


We have been continuing to review inclusion provision with schools and in recent weeks we have focused on the provision of education for children who can’t access mainstream education because they have either been excluded or because of their health needs. We’ve published a report to all schools with some thoughts and proposals for the future and through the managers I will also distribute that to staff who work in areas like SEN, School Improvement and Inclusion, so you know what the current proposals are. We’ll now take the views of the wider group of schools and from their feedback the Inclusion Review Steering Group will need to consider what the next steps might be.


Thank you to all of you who worked to ensure appraisals were in place when they were needed. About 90% are now complete where staff were due to have an appraisal review and to have new objectives set.  The remainder will be finished in the next few weeks, or in the case of staff in the Advisory and Inspection Service they will be done in September and October (as their appraisal cycle links to the academic year)

And to say thanks for getting things as they should be and for the aggregated performance here is your reward – this is Dilbert on Appraisal and no…………… before you ask……………… I categorically deny any suggestion of a similar plot between me and the Heads of Service!

Dilbert Performance Appraisal


NUMBER 2 – I try really hard to be an Indie Rock aficionado but I’m also a sucker for what is simply a pop song. This is Vance Joy’s ‘Dream Your Life Away’ – he’s an Australian who is currently supporting Taylor Swift on tour! Now this isn’t the kind of thing I’d tell my mates for fear of unbridled ridicule, but I figured you’d overlook the Taylor Swift thing! ( If you listen… be warned – video is really TERRIBLE!!!)


The Heads of Service and Team Managers in JAS, Sutton Family Centre and Families Matter, have been working on ways to improve the provision of services to children, young people and families. We’ve already identified some changes to make to the case closure processes and supervision recording as well as starting to look at how we make our assessments as analytical and focused as we can get them. The underlying principle we’ve taken is to see what we can do to make things quicker, less bureaucratic, iron out any blockages in our systems and processes, and scaffold support to the staff doing this work. The Heads of Service and the Team Managers will share the details with staff as we go along and as we refine things.


If you are new to the blog – quick upshot is that I travel in and out of Sutton from Essex every day – my journey is long, often complicated by Network Rail or London Underground, and frequently fascinating!

This week I did that classic thing of meeting somebody you know, starting to say hello and then realising you don’t know them after all!!!! At Bank Station I arrived and bumped into someone I knew well. I started to say hello and to raise my hand in greeting. Mind announcement and mid-gesture I realised I didn’t know the person at

Glenys - not a friend of mine after all alas!
Glenys – not a friend of mine after all alas!

all but it was Glenys Kinnock, wife of the former Labour Leader Neil Kinnock. So I smoothly turned the ‘hello’ into distorted  yawn and the wave gesture into running my hands exaggeratedly through my hair! My utter embarrassment weighed so heavily on me I virtually limped away down the platform!

But it was topped yesterday as there was a guy opposite me on the Central Line who like others had come prepared for the hot, sticky, humidity of the Tube at the moment. But where others had worn short leaves, brought fans and drunk water, his preparation was…….a bag of frozen peas!!!…………………………………….. which he placed on the back of his neck!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was dying to ask him if he was then going to have peas for lunch as it would have been the best example of thinking ahead ever!! Alas I had to get off at Oxford Circus and left him to the soothing properties of Captain Birds Eye!


NUMBER 3 – Well if you are still with me you are doing well to get this far – you must be new to my blogs – the staff who are used to them would normally have given up by now! But your perseverance is rewarded with a gem – this is James Struthers singing ‘Baby Blues!’ – and here is a little known fact about this song – it is very popular in Essex with people who walk their dog at five in the morning and have been known to sing this to the birds at the top of their voice…………………………….. you should try it sometime!


At the meeting of elected members on the committee in June they agreed a new Framework for SEN Transport. This is used mainly for SEN pupils to transport them to specialist schools and placements, though there’s also some use of it for children who we are safeguarding and for some adults. Members also agreed that we need to review the proposals for the future delivery of services from Children’s Centres again, to take account of the feedback from residents and service users to the first consultation we ran in the spring of this year. And lastly the committee agreed that we should move to develop outline business cases for a possible spin-out of services to schools and education. There are three options and members wanted us to explore all of them in detail and then report back.


Have I mentioned our Google Community before? I have? Well just in case don’t forget to sign up!

In addition the best way to get the blog is to sign up for it too – there’s a link to follow on the left hand side of the screen. And you can also leave comments – in fact PLEASE DO – I will respond – if you want to leave a comment – even if only to tell me my taste in music is rotten, or to get a haircut, or anything! –  then there’s a little speech bubble and a comment label just under the title of this post – try it……………………………….. go on……………………….. ………………………………………………I dare you to!


I met with our voluntary sector colleagues on the Children’s Forum last week. I gave them an update on the Children’s Centre Redesign and they have agreed to develop some proposals for how they might contribute to the wider offer of services for children and families through Children’s Centres in the future.


NUMBER 4 – If you made it this far then you either have the determination  of 7 ordinary humans or you are very bored! Anyway for your efforts here is the indie that I’m supposed to like instead of those guilty pleasure pop songs! So this is the fabulous Kid Wave and their song ‘Honey’ – it’s PERFECT for a mosh pit and a pogo……………………………… now you might think I’m too old for a mosh pit and a pogo………….. you’d be wrong! ( I accept that this is a confession too far and now you really DO feel sorry for me – but you can’t NOT jump up and down to the chorus of this!)


When we met as a group we agreed that we would look further at three specific issues: how to make appraisal more relevant and focused on each individual member of staff; streamlining our systems for completing and responding to complaints, enquiries and Freedom of Info requests; and the need for a new planning framework that will show how each team links to the Council’s priorities and to those of the Children’s Trust and LSCB.


NUMBER 5 – This is “I’ll Keep You Safe” by Sleeping At Last, a song about parenthood (at least that’s what I THINK it’s about) – it’s from a TV ad for a bank I think. I think it’s beautiful and reminds me that even though my daughter is sometimes horrible to me (see below!!!), she’s the best thing on planet earth and I LOVE being her Dad!

AND FINALLY……………………….

……………………………………………………………….When I was drafting this last night my daughter came up and looked over my shoulder. She read out loud the bit from above ‘as I’ve said before  a good blog should also amuse, entertain and educate’………….. she then paused and said “You’ve spelt that wrong”………………………………………………………

I walked into it –  “Spelt what wrong?” I asked.

“Entertain” she said, “for your blog you spell it…….. P – U – T – Y – O – U – T – O – S – L – E – E – P” and then left the room. There are two things that struck me – firstly why do girls turn into carbon copies of their mums???? – and secondly when you get to the end of these blogs I guess I should really thank you for having seen it through to the end…..so thanks for persevering……………. and staying awake!



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

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

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

The Quad

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

 Locality Teams

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

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

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

Education Performance and Changes

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

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

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

DMT Meetings

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

Primary Partnership / Middle Tier

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

Divisional Budget Advice Sessions

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

Youth MP Elections

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

Early Years Literacy Family Engagement Programme

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Finally………..

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

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

Enjoy your day and your week!