Peter Duxbury's July briefing

1. Leadership, Leadership, Leadership!

On the 12 June we held a meeting with all first line managers and area managers across children’s services. During that meeting, we stressed the crucial role of leadership in the organisation and my conviction that strong leadership – particularly at the front line – will be the key to improving children’s services and making those improvements stick. We will be having further sessions (quarterly) with all children’s services managers with a view to developing leadership, sharing achievements and good news stories and checking our progress towards excellence.

There is also some urgent work that we need to do ahead of the likely Ofsted inspection in the autumn. In response to this we have arranged a number of sessions specifically with social care team managers and area mangers. These are taking place every three weeks until September. I would like to stress that one of our key priorities concerns “integration” and there is a strong commitment to ensuring that we work across the entire range of children’s services – bringing together all aspects of services which have an impact upon children’s outcomes and life chances.

2. Adoption

We are making good progress with our adoption action plan. There is a clear intention and drive to be as good as we possibly can be in relation to our adoption services and everyone involved is giving 100%. I am pleased to say that we have also obtained additional funding from the Children’s Improvement Board to assist with the delivery of our improvements.

3. Priority number 6 – Excellence

One of our key priorities relates to developing and sustaining effective partnerships that will promote better outcomes for children and young people in the city. We are currently (together with Cllr Brigid Jones, our Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) working with school leaders on the possibility of us establishing some form of trust or cooperative organisation which allows us to play a supportive role in ensuring that the schools system provides a good school for all children in the city. The intention is to offer to schools the opportunity to share expertise, build partnerships between schools, allow strong schools to support those who need help and promote the tackling of inequality as a key priority.

4. Social Work Forum

The intention of the forum is to champion social work practice and the social work profession. Its purpose is to highlight and promote excellent practice and recognise and celebrate the success of colleagues working on the front line. Our recently appointed Principal Officer Social Work Practice Emma Barnett will be at the next forum meeting.

5. Congratulations to Peter Hay, Strategic Director Adults and Communities

I am pleased to report that Peter Hay, Strategic Director Adults and Communities, has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list recently. The honour is for Peter’s services to social and health care and his role as President of ADASS which ended in April this year.

I am sure you will join me in congratulating Peter in achieving this recognition and thank him for all his excellent work and commitment over the years.

6. Customer First

You may already be aware of the Customer First Programme. The Customer First Programme in CYPF is providing us with a unique opportunity to transform the quality of the access arrangements to our services. The changes proposed will provide customers with more consistency, better choice, and improved access, thus supporting our journey towards excellence.

DLT have agreed that the Customer First Programme should proceed to the development of a Full Business Case for the following CYPF services:

  • Area and City-Wide Switchboard Services
  • Integrated Access Teams
  • Emergency Duty Team
  • School Admissions and Pupil Placements Service
  • Family Information Service

Customer First will be visiting these services during July and August to gather more information to develop the design and validate the costs and benefits that have already been identified. A final decision about the Customer First programme will then be taken when the Full Business Case is completed in September/October.

You can find out more about Customer First by contacting the CYPF Change Team:

Ayyab Brice -

Andrew Slattery - (IATs, Switchboard, EDT)

Lucy Walker - (Family Information Service)

Laura Hendry - (School Admissions and Pupil Placements Service

7. Secondary Headteachers Conference

On 5 and 6 of July, Birmingham Secondary Headteachers met at the Belfry. This offered Headteachers the opportunity to network, share their knowledge and outstanding practice and hear from key note speakers such as David Carter, Executive Principal of the Cabot learning federation, Usha Sahni, Regional Director of OFSTED, Russell Hobby, General secretary of the NAHT, Professor Mary Jones and Cabinet Member Councillor Brigid Jones.

The theme was rhetoric or reality and Professor Bart McKettrick, Dean of Education at Liverpool Hope University, reminded us of the importance of values, the freedom of the human spirit and the importance of developing the whole child. He helped remind us all why we are so passionate about what we do. The quality of the workshops was very high and was provided by our outstanding school practitioner. Well done to the organising committee who did such an excellent job.

8. Retiring Headteachers

As we reach the end of term it is important that we recognise the huge contributions that our Headteachers who are retiring have made over the years to improved outcomes for children and young people and the communities that they have served. We know that your personal contributions are being recognised by each school and governing body but on behalf of the Directorate can we say a huge thank you to each of you and wish you every success in your future plans.

  • Beverley Archer – Colmers Farm Infants
  • Anne Cole – Saltley School
  • Patrick Doohan – St Cuthbert’s RC Primary
  • John Foley – Green Meadow Primary
  • Martin Jones – Cardinal Wiseman
  • Gillian Loxton – Somerville Primary
  • Janette McMahon – St James Catholic Primary
  • Angela Whelan – St Paul’s School for Girls

9. Key Stage 2 Results

Key stage 2 figures for 2012 show an improvement in the proportion of pupils achieving Level 4 or above (the expected standard for 11 year olds) in all subjects.

Birmingham's figures have improved by 4% to 85% in reading, by 4% to 78% in writing and by 3% to 82% in mathematics.  In all cases this improvement takes Birmingham above last year's national averages. Please note that only 25% of writing assessment results are currently available. This is as a result of the change in the Key Stage 2 assessment framework whereby the Writing test was discontinued and replaced by teacher assessments. This change came into effect this year.

The proportion of pupils achieving level 5 or above (the expected standard for 14 year olds) has also shown improvement. Birmingham's figures have improved by 8% to 44% in reading, by 1% to 19% in writing and by 5% to 37% in mathematics. For the first time, more than one third of Birmingham pupils achieved a level 5 in mathematics. As mentioned above, the writing figures are based on 25% of pupils.

In previous years, schools have been judged against their performance in English and mathematics combined. Due to the changes in the assessment framework, mentioned above, this information is not yet available for this year. When looking at reading, writing and mathematics combined, Birmingham has improved by 7% to 71% for Level 4 or above and by 1% to 13% for Level 5. These improvements have lifted Birmingham above the last year's national average for Level 4 or above and brought Birmingham in line with last year's national average Level 5 figure. Please note that the combined figures are based on 25% of pupils due to the incomplete set of writing assessments currently available.

10. Good news…………

Birmingham came third in the Stonewall Education Equality Index this year. This is an improvement on our position of fifth last year, and a great achievement given that an increased number of local authorities submitted evidence this year. Thanks go to those who attended the meeting with Stonewall earlier this term where our evidence was scrutinised - I am sure your contributions made a big difference.

As part of our continuing commitment to work with schools to combat all forms of bullying and to support the development of schools that are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) friendly, we have Elly Barnes working with us over the next two years. Elly has a national profile for this work and came first in the Independent on Sunday pink list and will be contacting schools directly. Elly is a teacher, trainer and diversity officer. She is well known for her "educate and celebrate” course that she has been running for teachers, pgce students and education psychologists.

Balsall Heath Children’s Centre has been short-listed for the Nursery World Awards Children’s Centre of the Year. It is obviously great news for the children's centre staff, parents, children and partners. The whole staff team and key stakeholders have worked exceptionally hard to develop the centre and its services and this was recognised in their Outstanding Ofsted. The centre is one of 73 children's centres in the city which work with commitment and enthusiasm to improve outcomes for our young children. We wish the centre every success for the award announcements on 28 September 2012.

Congratulations to James Brindley Hospital School which won the national award for Outstanding Leadership team of the Year at the TES awards on Friday 6 July. This is a fantastic achievement and is public acknowledgement of the work of Nicky Penny and her team.

From Birmingham there were two other people short-listed - Ben Cooper, from St Paul’s School for Girls, for outstanding resource contributor and David Gould, Headteacher at St Albans Academy, who was short-listed for Headteacher of the Year. These are amazing achievements in their own right.

Many congratulations to Jack at Springfield House. Jack was nominated by the school for a national award from the BESD association “Engage in their Future”. Jack joined Springfield House just before his 5th birthday in September 2007. This was his fourth school placement. He has moved from needing two staff working with him in isolation, with many violent attacks each day, to being totally included in one of our classes of eight with no recorded incidents this year. The school felt this merited recognition as an outstanding personal achievement. He was invited to the awards ceremony, which was held in Liverpool, and everyone was delighted when. He won the top gold award. A very well done to Jack and to all the staff at Springfield House who never gave up on him.

Many thanks to all the staff at the Music Service, particularly to Heather Clemson, for the stunning performances this week by our children and young people during the Gala concerts. The standard achieved has been phenomenal.