Tag Archives: staff changes

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!!

As Julie Once Said – Let’s Start At The Very Beginning!

If This Blog Becomes A Musical, It will Look Like This!
If This Blog Becomes A Musical, It will Look Like This!

……….The place that’s the “very good place to start” is sorry – my apologies that it’s taken me so long to deliver the communications that you are entitled to – hopefully the post below this will explain to you why I’m now using a blog to do this from here on. I hope you’ll not only get something from the news updates and other posts that I’ll put on here but I hope you’ll interact with me too through the comments facility – if you have never used it before it’s really easy to do and I will respond (eventually!) And at this point I will reassure you that that is the one and only time you’ll see a quote from Julie Andrews in the Sound Of Music in this blog!

Anyway -here is the update for January 30th 2013


The Interviews for the Exec Head Role were demanding - but at least not like this!
The Interviews for the Exec Head Role were demanding – but at least not like this!

I was delighted to secure the permanent post with Sutton. The process was quite long– these things tend to have a number of rounds – a bit like Strictly Come Dancing but without the public votes each week!
I’d never intended staying when I first came – but I’ve been made to feel really welcome by everyone and I’ve been really impressed with a great deal of what’s done here – it’s also of course a place on the verge of change, and while it will have it’s challenges I also think it will present real opportunities – so I’m looking forward enormously to being part of that and to working with all of you


For the purpose of communicating with you, I wanted to share some basic terminology – so you know what I’m on about! I’ll refer to CYPLD (led by Tolis) as a “Directorate”, to Education and Early Intervention (led by me) as a “Division” and to the three areas led by Nigel, Claudette, and Jackie as “Services”. In addition  I’m likely to refer to the services led by Nigel as “school improvement”, the services led by Jackie as “early intervention” and the services led by Claudette  as “young people interventions”. I know all too well that these don’t reflect in detail the range or focus of the service areas but for the purposes of communicating through updates like this, I hope you’ll accept that I’m using them for ease of reference

CH….CH….CH…..CH……CHANGES! (Turn And Face The Strain! – Added purely for those who want to sing along if you recognise the lyric!)

You probably know that the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is up and running, based at Sutton Police Station. Lynne Rigg, who was oreviously the Education Safeguarding Advisor, reduced her hours significantly from January and as a result we’ve restructured how we deliver this provision to ensure we can have a permanent representative for Education within the MASH. After interviews, we’re delighted to confirm we are appointing Jenny Wood to the post within MASH and Jenny will take up her new role at the beginning of March 2013.

Our new inspector for SEN, Karen Shaw, started in her new role at the beginning of this term. Karen works as part of our Inclusion services, under Maria Marsh, working out of Chaucer. Welcome to Karen!

Some of you will already be aware that Pat Butler has just retired from her role as Head of Service for our “Intervention For Young People” services. Her last day was officially at the end of December.

Pat had signalled her desire to retire some time ago and in the interim most of the focus has been on agreeing when that retirement would take place. Losing someone of Pat’s experience was always going to be a challenge and there would never have been a good time to lose that vast knowledge and enthusiasm, which those of you who have worked with her with know only too well, but we reached a date which met Pat’s individual preferences and allowed the Directorate to consider how to manage in her absence. She will of course be greatly missed.

However I’m delighted to tell you that our YOT Manager, Claudette Brown, will step up from her role as Pat’s designated deputy to take on the Head of Service duties with immediate effect. In order to ensure there is capacity in YOT as a result of Claudette’s move, she will be working with HR in the weeks ahead to offer the opportunity to relevant staff to express an interest in the interim YOT manager role, and beyond that we’ll add in the relevant capacity wherever we think it might be needed. I will update you further as the spring term progresses.

I know there are posts we have been either holding vacant or with rolling temporary contracts in various teams. It’s not a situation I am comfortable with, and it is unsettling for the staff concerned. Just before Christmas I asked Jackie and Pat for a summary of all the vacant and temporary contracts posts and I believe we have now resolved most of these and where relevant. Renewals are confirmed

The last change was on the transfer of the Intensive Family Support from the Joint Adolescent Service with us to the emerging new Families Matter service, sitting win the Chief Executive’s Department. There have been a number of shifts and changes of policy and decision around the development of this service, but just before Christmas it was resolved to transfer all of IFS now rather than in phases as had been originally considered. as a result Rory Campbell, Tanuja Cook and Mandy Dennelly have all transferred to new posts in the new service and I wish them and their colleagues in the new Families Matter provision every success.


Directorate Management Team – We have these every week. They involve the DCS, Tolis and the Exec Heads, including myself – Ann Goldsmith, Palvinder Kudhail, Annette Madden and Sharman Lawson. The focus of the agendas is flexible, though at least once a month there’s a focus on performance monitoring including outcomes, HR, Finance, QA feedback etc. Generally, this is where much of the decision making takes place on policy, strategy and significant operational issues.  At the meeting at the start of December we looked at a Risk Assessment Profile which school improvement had compiled on how each of our schools might be judged at their next OfSTED inspection. On the whole, most of our schools are likely to continue to be judged good or better. However there are a small number where there is a risk of them being judged as “requiring improvement” and so these will inevitably be a priority for us to support and challenge in the future. We also considered a set of high level options for delivering on CYPLD’s savings targets for 2013 and beyond. Some of these will be within our division and I’ll initially work with Claudette and Jackie on developing more detailed proposals and a thorough analysis of the risks and implications inherent within them. Then, at the most recent meeting, we reviewed the overall budget position at Month 9, an emerging Communications Plan for the Council and the current corporate project to review support functions across the Council. There was considerable debate and discussion about the last item as it will be important to balance an approach which maximises efficiency with ensuring commissioning directorates like ours have the specialisms and support flexibility we will need to deliver the highest of standards. In principle, I think the review of support functions is entirely right. My feedback focused on process, management implications at team level, engagement of managers in the review at the right stage, and some of the criteria we will need to apply when deciding whether or not not to make changes to a role, such as considering whether to centralise.

One key message that I would want to emphasise for all of you who are budget holders is the importance of getting your budget set-up correct for 13-14 as we seem to have more control over that than in the previous year and also stress the importance of short summary budget narratives being provided back to your Heads of Service and to Finance, which clarify any queries or comments that might otherwise arise when budgets are reviewed.


………. As many of you know I go back and forward between Sutton and Essex on a daily basis. I come in by Tube and train, and on the whole the journey is fine and I can get a lot done, which is important when the journey takes about 2 hours each way! However travelling by Tube and aim is a rather solitary experience – and my fellow commuters look….well….miserable. And I wonder if I look like they do and they are thinking that about me!!!!! So a plea- if I arrive for a meeting, especially first thing in the morning, looking a bit miserable – challenge me! My family do at the other end of the day – and they won’t be as pleasant about it as you will be!


……..I’ve got several ridiculous phrases and quotes culled from songs, books and films that I use frequently – my family hate it and I guess you all might too – so this is an apology in advance for quotes from Shrek, Squeeze, Sylvester The Cat etc etc etc! One of them is to wait for a pause after someone says “So….” and get in with “a needle pulling thread??????” – which tells you two things. Firstly it is irritating! Secondly when I said that at the beginning of this blog post that it would be the only time I would ever quote from The Sound Of Music, I didn’t mean it!