Tag Archives: Early Help

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



…………….As you know I was away for a short weekend break last weekend and so sent weekly updates for both last week and this week. Once we’d worked out as a family what the name of the city ACTUALLY was and the country it was ACTUALLY in, we got there and really enjoyed it.

On the Monday night flight back though we had a slightly hairy flight back into Gatwick thanks to storm Ingrid. However our huge sighs of relief at getting on terra firma in one piece sounded hollow when we got caught in the traffic chaos caused by the closure of Dartford Bridge. Easyjet managed to get us from Copenhagen to London through the storm in 2 hours. Alas it the Highways Agency then needed 5 and a half hours to get us the 40-odd miles left from Gatwick to Essex!
So my apologies to those of you who had to suffer me even more bleary-eyed than usual on Tuesday morning!!
William and I have now started the first series of three briefings for staff who are affected by the proposed Education Spin Out. We had one on Tuesday at Grove and another at Chaucer on Thursday and a number of staff have sent me queries as additional follow ups.
It’s been good to get feedback on the early details we’re giving and on the overall feel for individuals. We know that whatever part of the division you work in right now things are difficult and there’s still inevitable uncertainty about the future. We will try to manage that as well as we can and in part William will be providing weekly updates in the Google community for our division so as I said to those at briefings if you’ve not yet signed up I’d encourage you to do so. We have also briefed union representatives this week so that they have the same initial heads up on the proposal should you want to raise any aspects of it with them.
As part of wider briefings on the emerging proposals William also briefed the Forum of Sutton Governors last week.
At the most recent Forum meeting they reviewed the DSG budget position, especially the current over spends on SEN and alternative provision within the High Needs part of the budget where demand and costs have risen. They also agreed to proposed consultations in three areas – we will be consulting on: a proposal to reduce the number of places we commission for pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties  in Primary School bases; a proposal to reduce the number of places we commission for secondary age pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder at Glenthorne High; and a proposal to discontinue DSG funding to our Learning Support Service within our Inclusion Support Services. The meeting also agreed to continue DSG funding to our other Inclusion Support Services, and to introduce a de-delegated funding arrangement for the work Mick Bradshaw does on educational visit risk oversight.
I change trains most morning at Oxford Circus. Couple of weeks back I got off Central Line and started to walk for connecting passageway to the Victoria Line. A young woman crossed in front of me to get on the train I’d just got off. She’d a bag on her back with an umbrella in it. As we crossed the strap of umbrella got caught in the button of my coat which pulled the umbrella off her back! What are the chances?!!!! I quickly unhooked it from my button and got on the train to give it back to her and the doors shut behind me. She was so apologetic that I didn’t mind the slight detour and reassured her that it would take me 5 mins to get off at Pimlico and go back to Oxford Circus.
Five minutes later I got off at Pimlico – to hear that in that 5 mins there had been a signal fault at Victoria and there were no trains back!!!!!! I had to go to Stockwell, then to Morden and then get a bus back to Sutton. It took forever! Next time I’ll just keep the umbrella!!!!!
Our Education Business Partnership ran this in conjunction with colleagues and businesses last week. I happened to catch up with the staff involved the following day and it was clear the event had been a real success with positive feedback from those involved. 95% of all the young people attending said that the event had really helped them think about next steps when they leave school and from the employers perspective 98% of them said they would definitely support the event in future years with comments like “a good space to meet local people and businesses” and “good to see big interest in apprenticeships”
We have been finalising details on several reports which will be published to elected members next week. We’ve been through them with the Lead Member this week and have redrafted where it was needed. The reports from us will be on Education Spin Out, Youth and Adolescent Services Redesign, Children’s Centres, School Attainment and a Proposal to Merge Alternative Provisions at Limes College and Sutton Tuition and Reintegration Service.
I’ve been working with colleagues in corporate performance service to review and revise our divisions key metrics for performance reporting to CMT and members. I’ve tried to ensure we address priorities, focus where possible on quality and impact rather than volume or demand, and try to get some breadth in to our PIs which covers at least some of the range of services in our division. The final version of the indicators for our division will be sent to you all for info once they are adopted and agreed.
Following on from our exchange of love poetry preferences in our Google Community page for EdnEarl, I thought I would try to advise/indoctrinate you further by sharing my favourite indie love song – I do this in part as I want to know what you think and in part because I can’t wait to hear what Louise in the Adolescent Service tells us is the ‘go to’ love song among her fellow followers of what I call ‘goth heavy metal!’ This is Mac DeMarco’s ‘Still Together’
I was asked to go talk to Sutton’s School Business Managers last week about changes within Council to services and funding arrangements. The pictures on both Council funding and DSG funding are pretty challenging at the moment so by the time I’d concluded they were clearly delighted to see me leave the room and they then welcomed June and her colleagues from Governor Services who followed me with a sense of relief that was so evident it seemed you could reach out and touch it!!!
We are working with an external public sector specialist group, iMPower, to look at both recruitment and retention and at transformation of safeguarding service provision. They completed much of the initial information gathering through interviews with people like Tolis, Chief Exec, members and so on. We had first workshop involving Exec Heads and Heads of Service in our division and in Safeguarding to look at next steps in a landscape of considering structural options, challenges and objectives. They will now do some further information gathering before a second workshop with us in March.
We had the LSCB Board meeting this week. Among the reports was our update on Early Help where we advised the board of steps to fund and recruit a new Early Help co-ordinator, the revisions to assessment documents for Early Help, the development of an Early Help self-assessment and an Outcomes Framework, and the work done in Families Matter to develop a comprehensive database of the Early Help Offer in Sutton. The other key reports to the Board included updates on the work on Child Sexual Exploitation and an input on the emerging approach to the ‘Prevent’ Strategy in Sutton. For those who may not be familiar with ‘Prevent’ or who may be interested in knowing more about it, we will put a short summary note about it on the Google Community.
I’ve seen two well known leaders on my Tube and train adventures. Week before last am scuttling down into bowels of Victoria when I nod to a bloke I know though he doesn’t nod back and as I think on it after I’ve passed him I realise that I knew him because he’s Jeremy Corbyn and that he didn’t know me because HE’S Jeremy Corbyn!
Last night I was changing trains at Stockwell when I bumped into Genghis Khan!!! I kid you not. There was a bloke on the underground in the full ‘Mongolian horde’ outfit just standing on platform in fur hat, jacket, pantaloons and riding boots!! As I got on the Victoria Line I couldn’t help but think I need to do something with my uber-dull wardrobe!
And Finally………………………….
………………………………………………………. I went to watch my daughter’s football team a couple of weeks ago on a truly miserable, wet Sunday morning. At half time they were 1-0 down. The guy who manages the team got them together to talk tactics……………..alas they were all distracted because…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. the rain was making their hair go frizzy and they’d not used waterproof mascara so it was all running down their faces! They were distraught and incapable of listening to his instructions. – However it worked – they came out second half and eventually won 2-1! And I thought I knew about football…………………………
Have a good weekend