Young Merton Together

Top news stories

Welcome from Yvette Stanley, Merton's Director of Children's Services

YS new picAs this is the ‘end of term’ edition of Young Merton Together I wanted to draw your attention to the articles that illustrate the fascinating learning and enjoyment opportunities that schools offer to Merton’s children and young people: ‘Enabling Enterprise’ at Malmesbury Primary; Poplar Primary’s new scooter track; Hillcross Primary’s inspiring ‘music week’; an update from Cricket Green Special School; and Singlegate Primary’s success in the borough’s bowls competition.

And, I am very happy to be able to congratulate Rutlish School on being graded as ‘outstanding’ in their recent Ofsted inspection. The report states that ‘the uncompromising leadership of the headteacher and his senior leaders has created a culture which is highly aspirational’ and that ‘pupils have excellent attitudes to learning and are very proud of their school’ amongst many strengths. In Merton currently 100% of secondary schools are rated as ‘good’ or better by Ofsted.

On the theme of inspections I am sure that most of you know that Ofsted have just completed a four week inspection of our children’s services. This was an opportunity for us to present to the inspectorate, evidence of the effectiveness of our services and arrangements to support children in need of help and protection, and looked after children and care leavers, as well as the work of the Merton Safeguarding Children Board.

Throughout the inspection it was our aim to demonstrate: our commitment to multi-agency partnership working; effective strategy and planning underpinned by performance management and needs analysis; skilled ‘child and family centred’ practice, underpinned by clear policies and procedures and effective oversight; and our culture of using continuous self-evaluation to inform service improvement and professional development priorities.

While the inspection report and the final grading will not be available the end of August, after Ofsted’s internal moderation process, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all staff across Merton’s children’s trust services who directly supported the inspection process, and to those of you who rooted for us from the sidelines.

On the theme of safeguarding this edition includes articles on: An update from Keith Makin, chair of Merton’s MSCB; Resources for schools on tackling FGM; Early Help guide for practitioners; South West London Adoption update; Merton’s information pages on domestic violence; Merton Transforming Families’ Lives; Are you looking after someone else's child?; and Trans inclusion in education.

On the theme of ‘user voice’ you can read about: Merton’s new Children and Families’ Voice Framework; Merton’s Young People’s Participation and Engagement Team; Merton Youth Parliament: a new manifesto and more; Young Advisers to explore policing and youth crime reduction; the Jigsaw 4u annual art exhibition; LGBT+ forum newsletter; an update from; Merton’s success in the Stonewall Equality Index 2017; and A word from our Children in Care Council.

‘Health’ related articles include: Public Health update – Championing Healthy Schools London (HSL) Status; 10-minute shake-ups to start the day a healthy way (from Change4Life); Great Weight Debate Merton Hackathon; and Merton Active plus school holiday activities. And on the theme of economic well-being you can find out about: Merton’s Volunteer Police Cadets; The SMART Choice programme end of year celebration; an extended entitlement (30 hours) of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds.

Thanks again to all of you for your enduring commitment to improving the lives of Merton’s children and families, examples of which I am proud to be able to showcase here.

Best wishes

Yvette

 

Continuous Improvement

Follow this link - Continuous Improvement - to access this edition's section about the Children's Trust's commitment to continuously improve the quality, timeliness, and equity of our services for children, young people and families.

This month we feature: Children and families shaping services.

Merton student and SHINE volunteer Mia Ciano wins the Diana Award

Mia CianoTo celebrate Princess Diana’s Birthday this 20th Anniversary year, The Diana Award released their Roll of Honour for 2017. The names of over 750 outstanding young people, from across the UK and the world, were announced last month. These exceptional young people embody Princess Diana’s qualities of kindness, compassion and service.

Merton is very proud as one of our own students and, a very young volunteer, won the Award.

Mia Ciano, Raynes Park High School pupil, and SHINE Merton volunteer (see image left) is not an ordinary 13 year old. She is one of the youngest volunteers in Merton and has trained as a Peer Mentor as soon as she graduated Shine Saturday School in 2016.

She is a true Shine ambassador and spends six hours a week offering younger children academic support and guidance. Mia also volunteers on a number of community events as a steward and has supported the Shine project in a number of publicity campaigns by giving speeches and promoting the work that we do. Mia loves the opportunity to give back, spending over 300 hours of volunteering per year and offering study support to over 120 of the most disadvantaged pupils in Mitcham Town. As part of her award, Mia will visit Althorp this Summer.

Kristina Burton SHINE Merton Project Manager said: ‘We are very proud of Mia’s achievements! I hope that her Award will inspire many young people to follow her steps and help out in the community".

About the Diana Award

The Diana Award is the longest running award for young people that is given to individuals and groups through a retrospective nomination process only. We believe this is special: young people do not work towards our award, rather they demonstrate their suitability through their actions, without expectation of reward. We believe this makes The Diana Award unique and the reason why young people form a deep connection to the award.

The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. It is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action. Today The Diana Award has the support of both her sons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The Diana Award invests in developing young people through four key programmes:

  1. Our flagship Award – the Diana Award, continues to shine a spotlight on outstanding young people through a retrospective nomination process.
  2. Our peer-led Anti-Bullying Campaign, enables young people to change the attitudes, behaviours and culture of bullying both offline and online through a multifaceted approach.
  3. Our structured Mentoring Programme builds resilience and character for the most vulnerable young people in our society, helping them gain key competencies needed to navigate life successfully.
  4. Our Inspire Series Programme, supports and enables young people to take positive action in their communities, helping them build leadership skills.

Over the next five years, we want to go further. Our aspiration is that the 11,000 hours that young people spend in full time education, are safe and bully-free hours, that young people have the tools, skills and competencies to effectively cope with, bounce back from and challenge bullying behaviour in their schools. Our hope is that vulnerable young people in our society have the opportunity to succeed in life through an effective and structured mentoring experience that ensures social mobility.

Finally, through a varied curriculum of experiences and opportunities, young people acquire the skills needed to succeed in life and in work.

Nominations for 2018 are now open – www.diana-award.co.uk

Young Advisers to explore policing and youth crime reduction

MOPAC fund Merton’s Safer Neighbourhood Board ‘Young Advisers’ project.

The Mayors Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) have granted over 4k of funding to Merton’s Safer Neighbourhood Board (SNB) to develop a ‘Young Advisors’ programme to explore policing and youth crime reduction.

Young Advisors is a programme, supported by Merton’s Young People’s Participation and Engagement Team, which brings together young people to act as an advisory group on thematic issues. These groups are created as and when the need arises, in an attempt to access concrete, informed consultation with young people about issues that are relevant to them.

The team submitted the successful bid to MOPAC, in partnership with Merton Police Cadets and the Safer Neighbourhood Board (SNB). The project will put together a Young Advisors group, supporting them in a peer educator role to plan and implement social action campaigns to support young people’s understanding of policing in the borough and the reduction of youth crime. It will also provide training and development to upskill the young advisors to be able to represent young people on the SNB.

For more information on the work of the Young People’s Participation and Engagement Team please contact chelsea.renehan@merton.gov.uk.

Merton's 'early help' offer to children and families

Early help is an essential element within Merton’s comprehensive framework of children’s services, whereby additional needs of children are identified and met at the earliest point possible, promoting children’s welfare and reducing the need for more intrusive and expensive interventions at a later stage.

In Merton we use the C4EO (website) definition of Early Help:

‘Intervening early and as soon as possible to tackle emerging problems for children, young people and families…early help can take place early in a child’s life or early in the development of a problem…effective early help prevents escalation of need and reduces severity of problems…..early help can be provided to individual families, particular vulnerable groups or whole populations (C4EO 2012)'.

Within the context of Merton’s long standing Child and Young Person Well-Being Model (MWBM) developed with our safeguarding and Children's Trust partners, early help is provided at all levels (Universal, Enhanced, Specialist). This approach aims to enable and empower families, reducing an escalation of need. Our Children's Trust Partnership delivers, commissions and brokers early help services through the voluntary sector, schools, Public Health, Merton CCG, Safer Merton, the council and other partners..

For full information on Merton's Early Help offer, and for a list of services please see the following:

Download The Early Help Guide for Practitioners 2017.

Jigsaw4u Annual Art Exhibition

jigsaw 4 u to artistsJigsaw 4u mayorJigsaw4u launched their 6th annual art exhibition at Morden Hall Park in early July. The exhibition was opened by The Mayor of Merton (see image right) and celebrates the achievements of children supported by Jigsaw4u (see image left). 

The artwork is based around The National Trust’s 2017 theme of ‘Air and Water’ and is influenced by the challenging life events individual children can experience. The display is open to the public at The Stable Yard within Morden Hall Park until 28th July 2017.

Jigsaw4u are a Merton based charity who work with children, young people and families with complex social and emotional issues.

 

Colliers Wood Partnership Secured Heritage Lottery Funding

CWRAColliers Wood Partnership (Colliers Wood Resident Association, Sustainable Merton, Woodcraft Folk and Polish Family Association) led by Colliers Wood Residents Association has received £46,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, for a project to explore the history of the child evacuees from Colliers Wood to Lurgashall in East Sussex during WWII. They have called the project HYPER ‘Heritage, Young People, Elderly Residents.’

HYPER will enable local young people and the wider community to learn about Colliers Wood heritage, and engage children and families in fun ways to research the history of the Colliers Wood evacuees during WWII, and help them to make a record of their findings for generations to come in the form of a Colliers Wood Treasure Book.

Our project will be a great opportunity to work across generations, it will influence the local community to develop relationships and understanding of local history between young and old, and open doors for young people to be actively engaged in recollecting history and memories.

The HYPER project will involve:

Colliers Wood Partnership will work with young people to help them learn through developing media and communication skills, and will allow young participants from across Merton to get involved in a wide range of activities. The project will:

  • Train young people in project research, oral history recording and using digital audio recording equipment.
  • Enable young people to participate in historical cooking activities and researching food, fashion and life during WWII.
  • Enable young people to create the Colliers Wood Treasure Book.
  • Enable young people to take part in the local community garden to grow their own food and learn about healthy eating.
  • Collect 20 oral histories from older Colliers Wood residents.
  • Enable young people to take part in a 3-day trip to Lurgashall in East Sussex to follow in the footsteps of the WWII evacuees.

Commenting on the award, Tom Searle, Chair of the Colliers Wood Resident Association said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will support young people to be active citizens with pride in their Colliers Wood Heritage.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the HLF in London, said: “This is an excellent project for the young people of Colliers Wood. As well as the vast collection of skills they will develop, this in-depth look at their own local heritage will help give them a greater sense of identity. The 1940’s World War II children evacuation has always been a significant part of the Colliers Wood history. This project helps raise its profile once again.”

HLFAbout the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 30,000 projects, allocating £4.6billion across the UK. Website: www.hlf.org.uk

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Slawek Szczepanski at Polish Family Association on 07917401064 or slawek.szczepanski@polishfamily.org.uk.

Animal agents challenge children to read more this summer

Children across the borough are being challenged by animal agents to read six books or more during the school summer holidays.

Merton libraries are supporting the Summer Reading Challenge, an initiative run by national charity the Reading Agency for children aged between four and 11. This year’s theme is Animal Agents – about a band of furry, slippery and feathered friends who are specially trained to use their skills and natural instincts to unravel mysteries – with a huge helping of fun along the way.

The Summer Reading Challenge began on 8 July and runs until 9 September. It is free to take part and will be running in all seven of Merton’s award-winning libraries in Wimbledon, Mitcham, Raynes Park, Pollards Hill, West Barnes, Morden and Colliers Wood.

As well as the reward of a good read, every child who completes the Summer Reading Challenge will receive a medal and a certificate. There are also prizes up for grabs including an iPad, theatre tickets, tickets for the owl experience at Deen City Farm and a family ticket to the Warner Bros Studio Tour London, the Making of Harry Potter.

Merton was the first London borough to launch the library and schools membership scheme which issued every primary school child with a library card to encourage them and their family to visit their local library. This scheme has since been extended to secondary school pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9.

Merton council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Councillor Nick Draper said: “I know that all over Merton children will be going into libraries, opening books and discovering new worlds alongside the Animal Agents.  Kids, I have to tell your parents that the Summer Reading Challenge is important because it helps you to develop literacy skills – but YOU know it’s about having fun, reading the books YOU want to read, and collecting the prizes as you go!”

For more information about the Summer Reading Challenge, visit: www.merton.gov.uk/libraries

Private Fostering Week 2017

Merton Council marked Private Fostering Week (3 – 7 July) by reminding residents to get in touch if they know a child is living with someone other than their parents or close relatives. Staff from Merton council answered questions about private fostering and provided information in the Link at Merton Civic Centre during the week.

Private fostering is an informal arrangement made by a parent for a child under 16 years (or 18 if disabled) to be cared for by someone other than them or another close relative, for example a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, step-parent or grandparent, for more than 28 days.

Although this is done by private arrangement, legally the parent and the carer must notify the council about where the child is going to live so that the local authority can ensure that the child is safe, that the arrangement is suitable and that they have the right support and access to services.

There can be a number of reasons why a child is privately fostered, including a parent’s ill health or teenagers who move out of their parents’ home to stay with friends. Other children come to the UK to study and are staying with extended family members or a host family. A private foster carer might be a family friend, a cousin or a neighbour.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Katy Neep, said: “Whether you are looking after a young person or you know someone who is, we want you to let the council know so that you and the young person can access support and advice. Alongside this it is also important that we ensure the young person is safe as unfortunately young people who are privately fostered can be at increased risk of abuse or trafficking.”

If you are aware of a child who has been living with someone who is not a close family member for more than 28 days, please contact the Merton Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 020 8545 4227 or email: mash@merton.gov.uk

For more information about private fostering, please call 020 8545 3672 or visit: www.merton.gov.uk/privatefostering

Are you looking after someone else's child?

All professionals are legally required to alert Merton's children’s services of children who are being privately fostered so that an assessment can be undertaken to ensure that the child’s welfare is being promoted and the child is safeguarded.

A privately fostered child is one who is:

  • Living away from home
  • Under the age of 16 years (under 18 if disabled)
  • Cared for by someone for more than 28 days who is not a parent or close relative (stepparent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle).

How to Notify?

If you are aware of a child or young person living in a private fostering arrangement please notify MASH on 020 8545 4227.

For more information visit

Be healthy

School holiday activities

Merton Active plus bannerDo you work with parents? If so, let them know about the Merton Active Plus holiday courses. Packed full of activities, our courses will keep children busy for hours, giving parents a break during the school holidays!

Booking is open for the next school holiday. For more information including course descriptions, and bookings: http://booking.merton.gov.uk/active-plus

If you would like to run a course in tandem with us for children up to 16, get in touch with an idea and let's see if we can make it happen

Championing Healthy Schools London (HSL) Status

Healthy Schools London is a pan-London enterprise, supported by the Mayor of London, with the goal of improving health in our children and reducing health inequalities. The programme focuses on physical activity, emotional health and well-being, healthy eating, and personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education and was created in the knowledge that healthy and happy children go on to achieve more.

We are pleased to congratulate Links Primary School for achieving the Silver Award of the Healthy Schools London (HSL) programme, our first Silver Award in Merton. Three other primary schools: Bond, Lonesome and Singlegate are also highly commended for achieving their Bronze Award Status.

Healthy Schools London (HSL) programme also forms part of wider strategies to tackle childhood obesity where the London average is above the national average for children in year 6 (as measured by the National Child Measurement Programme 2015/16). Read more about the Merton picture in our Director of Public Health’s Annual Public Health Report 2016/17 – Tackling Childhood Obesity Together www2.merton.gov.uk/annualpublichealthreport.htm

Previously a targeted Healthy Schools programme in the east of the borough was implemented, and from April 2017, Merton Schools Sports Partnership (MSSP) led by Nicola Ryan, has been engaging and supporting schools across the whole borough to sign up to the HSL programme and reach their Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. MSSP ran a workshop in July to help schools understand the criteria for the different award schemes and is providing further support to school leads.

In preparation for 2017/18 academic year, we encourage all schools to:

  • Identify a Healthy Schools London lead in their school
  • Register their school onto the Healthy Schools London Website, please visit: www.healthyschools.london.gov.uk/register
  • Download the Bronze award assessment template to complete

For any further queries please contact MSSP directly at: info@mertonssp.org.uk. It is recognised many schools are already meeting some of the criteria having made improvements already, such as promoting healthy eating, ensuring school lunches meet standards, giving guidance for packed lunches, offering clean drinking water. The HSL awards will recognise their hard work and achievement as well as further supporting the health and well-being of their pupils and staff.

 

 

The Great Weight Debate Merton Hackathon

Saturday 3rd June saw Merton’s first ever Hackathon - a fun and creative ideas marathon. This event brought people from a range of backgrounds together to come up with creative, innovative solutions to tackle the rising issue of unhealthy weight in children and young people.

What is a Hackathon?

A Hackathon is an event that brings motivated local people together to brainstorm positive suggestions for lasting change in their community.The challenge was to find new and exciting ways to reduce childhood obesity in Merton by getting more children, young people and families eating well and being active.

The Hackathon was run as part of the Great Weight Debate Merton, a six-month project commissioned by Merton Council’s Public Health Team. We have been having lots of conversations with different communities in Merton to find out what is needed to reduce childhood obesity and what is already helping families to tackle this issue. The Hackathon was an opportunity to bring all those ideas together and use them to inspire and develop some actions that could really work in Merton.

Why a Hackathon?

The Hackathon is all about the health of children and young people in Merton: London has more overweight and obese children than any other global city – in some primary schools in Merton, more than 50% of children leave Year 6 overweight or obese.

Being overweight or obese can affect a child’s mental well-being and lead to low self-esteem. There is also a high probability that young people will remain overweight as adults, putting them at increased risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Too many young people find it hard to eat healthily and exercise enough and global evidence shows that unless we change our environment, we won’t stop the childhood obesity epidemic.

The questions discussed were:

  • How can we support families and young people in Merton to eat more healthily?
  • How can we support busy working families in Merton to help their children achieve 60 minutes exercise a day?
  • How can we tackle the growing fast food environment in Merton?
  • How can we make healthy options more attractive and affordable in Merton?

Outcomes:

The Great Weight Debate Merton Team is now busy writing up the outcomes and will be taking the ideas and solutions suggested by the Hackathon out to a wider audience. Watch this space!

 This article was reproduced from the Great Weight Debate Merton website.

10-minute shake-ups to start the day a healthy way (from Change4Life)

Aimed at young children and their families over the summer holidays, an initiative from Change4Life suggests ideas for 10-minute bursts of exercise or shake-ups to help start their day with physical activity.

Every week over the holiday season, Change4Life will announce new games using Disney Pixar characters and themes from animations such as Cars 3, Moana, Frozen Fever, Zootropolis, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lodge. The games themselves are fun proposals to help children stay healthy and have been designed for both individuals and groups of 2, 3 or more players.

We know that physical activity plays an integral role in the fight against obesity, and children of a healthy weight leading active lives have more confidence, higher self-esteem and do better at school. Obesity in childhood also increases obesity risk in adulthood leading to increased risk of diseases (such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers), and higher mortality. Read more about childhood obesity in Merton and our approach in our Director of Public Health’s Annual Public Health Report 2016/17 – Tackling Childhood Obesity Together www2.merton.gov.uk/annualpublichealthreport.htm

Encouraging families to engage in an active summer is a key element to giving children the best start in life and a step toward reducing health inequalities. Registered schools will have giving children a 10-minute shake-up worksheet, plus a passport and stickers to publicise the enterprise. Schools can register at: https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/schools using the ‘Stay in Touch’ link.

Individuals can go online and view this week’s suggestions from the Change4Life team, please promote to parents/carers through your networks: https://www.nhs.uk/10-minute-shake-up/shake-ups#zoipOyg2dW5uy5mq.97

Listening to Merton's health service users

health watchHealthwatch Merton is working to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services. Whether it's improving them today or helping to shape them for tomorrow.

Our success depends on you telling us what’s going on in care services in Merton and how things could change and improve.

There are many different opportunities and ways for you to do this and we invite you to help us to create change together by ‘speaking up’ and getting involved in whichever way possible.

For more information and to get involved see: www.healthwatchmerton.co.uk/

Stay safe

An update from the Chair of Merton's Safeguarding Children Board

Keith MakinThe Merton Safeguarding Children’s Board’s Priorities for 2017-2019

Merton Safeguarding Children’s Board (MSCB) was recently inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspector’s from Ofsted as part of the Single Inspection Framework. The final report will be published in early September however, we are very pleased with the initial feedback from inspectors and very proud of the MSCB and its partners for their commitment to ensuring that everyone in Merton does all they can to ensure that every child is safe, supported and successful.

The Board’s priorities for 2017-2019 are:     

1. Think Family – to support children and adults in our most vulnerable families to reduce risk and ensure improved outcomes.  

The Think Family Coordinator has been appointed, and will coordinate the work that is being done across adult and children’s services in order to ensure that this work is joined-up and that family (children and adults) receive a seamless delivery of services.

The Board has also approved a protocol for 'Bruising in pre-mobile Babies and children who are not independently mobile'. The purpose of this protocol is to provide multi-agency professionals with clear practice guidance in cases.

2. Supporting Vulnerable Adolescents

The Board aims to support vulnerable adolescents who may be at risk of

  • Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE),
  • Children who go missing from home/school/care,
  • Children and young people who are at risk radicalisation and violent extremism,
  • Children at risk of serious youth violence and gangs,
  • Self-harm and poor mental health,
  • Suicide prevention.

The Board has approved a Harmful Sexual Behaviour Protocol so that professionals are supported to intervene effectively in cases where children behave in harmful ways. The protocol makes it clear that children who harm others (including sexually) are likely to have considerable needs themselves. Evidence suggests these children may have suffered significant disruption in their lives, been exposed to violence within the family, may have witnessed or been subject to physical or sexual abuse, have problems in their educational development and may have committed other offences.

Children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour should be held responsible for their abusive behaviour, while being identified and responded to in a way that meets their needs as well as protecting others.

We have also refreshed our Online Safety Strategy. The aims of the Online Safety Strategy are as follows:

  • Guide children, young people and others to the best sources of information and support and not duplicate the great range of advice and resources already available.
  • Help organisations to develop their own solutions, and incorporate the principles and priorities of this strategy into their own: Make sure that risk is assessed and managed effectively; Identify those young people potentially vulnerable.
  • Make sure that young people understand their own risks in using online services.

For more information on the work of the MSCB please contact the Business Manager: paul.bailey@merton.gov.uk.

Tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The following information has been sent to all head teachers in Merton's schools:

In the UK, it is estimated that 137,000 girls and women are living with the consequences of FGM and 60,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM. It is a form of child abuse and violence against girls and women as well as a violation of their human rights. It is illegal in the UK and cannot be justified as a cultural or religious practice and leaders of all the main faiths have spoken out against it.

The public campaign to end FGM needs to continue. Schools play a vital role in protecting girls from FGM as well as identfying and supporting girls who are at risk or have undergone FGM.

This term is a particularly good opportunity to raise the issue of FGM before the summer holidays begin.

It is important that staff are aware of FGM, know what to do if a child is at risk or has experienced FGM and are clear about the school’s safeguarding procedures. Staff need support so they feel able to raise awareness to parents and carers and provide appropriate advice and information on FGM, which makes it clear that the practice is illegal.

To support schools, we have produced a “Preventing FGM Summer Support Pack” which brings together key information and resources that provide advice, information and support:

  1. Preventing FGM-support and resources for schools - this includes key information about organisations and resources that provide information on FGM, guidance on preventing FGM, staff training, lesson plans for secondary, support for involving parents and the community and guidance on fulfilling safeguarding and statutory requirements.
  2. End FGM poster produced by NSPCC.
  3. FGM the Facts - leaflet with general information produced by the Home Office.
  4. FGM Facts for young people - produced by Forward UK.
  5. Government statement opposing FGM - known as the “Health Passport” for families to take abroad to show the UK Government’s opposition to FGM and that it is illegal in the UK.

The Support Pack is designed to enable you to raise awareness of this unacceptable practice and I look forward to your on going support in tackling and preventing FGM.

For more information contact Head of Service for Social Work Intervention: caroline.muller@merton,gov.uk.

 

 

Could you become a foster carer?

A social worker is keen to dispel myths which may be preventing residents from becoming foster carers.

Steve Butcher, an assessing social worker from Merton council’s fostering recruitment team said: “It is a myth that we are looking for ‘perfect families’. If you’ve had trauma in your own life, or you’ve been bereaved, you could use your experience to support children who may be going through something similar. A common misconception is that children come into foster care because of difficult behaviour but they are often in care because of problems at home, for example, there may have been domestic violence or drug abuse.”

There is plenty of support available, right from the start. Every prospective foster parent is required to complete a three-and-a-half-day training course, as part of the application process. Mr Butcher said: “This prepares you for some of the challenges you may face. It is also an opportunity for you to decide whether fostering is right for you and your family.”

Applications to become a foster carer are welcomed from all sections of the community. Personal attributes are more important than the educational background, marital status or sexual orientation of potential foster carers.

Mr Butcher said: “We are looking for people who are calm and patient and have the ability to relate well to children and young people. A sense of humour is also important. You don’t need to be a parent but you do need to demonstrate an aptitude for relating to young people.”

Each foster parent is assigned a social worker, who visits their home regularly to provide, support, guidance and practical information. Each fostered child also has their own social worker who is in frequent contact with the family. Extra support is just a phone call away with a 24-hour helpline run by Merton council.

There is currently a shortage of foster carers in Merton for siblings and teenagers which could simply be down to another misunderstanding. Mr Butcher said: “Try to see behind the stereotype you read about in the newspapers and you will find a person. A lot of people think that teenagers are trouble but many of our foster carers tell us that looking after teenagers is easier than caring for a baby who won’t sleep.”

To find out more about fostering a child, visit: www.merton.gov.uk/fostering

Call: 0800 073 0874 or 020 8545 4070 or email fostering@merton.gov.uk

 

Merton tackling domestic violence: information pages

Merton has become one of the first London boroughs to join a national campaign against domestic violence and sexual assault.

NO MORE began in America in March 2013. Launched as a unifying symbol to end Domestic Violence and Sexual Assaults it campaigns to engage communities to take a stand against these crimes.

In May 2016 NO MORE was launched in the UK. The campaign is overseen by Hestia, one of the leading third sector organisations working within these fields.

The Merton Council website has a set of information and advice pages for people who are affected by domestic violence: www2.merton.gov.uk/safermertondomesticviolence.htm. The pages cover the following:

  • What is domestic violence.
  • Reporting and investigation.
  • The effect on children and young people.
  • Support services for victims.
  • Advice and information.

The pages also include information on 'how to use these pages safely'.

For more information on Merton's work to tackle domestic violence please contact Safer Merton on 020 8545 4146; safer.merton@merton.gov.uk.

 

 

 

£1m support for looked after children

A £1m award from the Department for Education’s innovation fund will help Merton Council and five other south London boroughs lead the way on meeting the needs of looked after children.

The proposed scheme will improve access to high-quality residential care and fostering placements for children in the care of local councils.

The successful bid was submitted by six members of the South London Commissioning Programme, a partnership of 10 boroughs.

By combining their buying power and developing shared systems the London boroughs of Croydon, Merton, Sutton, Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich aim to improve the supply of affordable, high-quality accommodation for looked after children that provides them with a safe and happy home life and helps them reach their full potential.

Support for adopters in south west London

Adoption is a life altering event that has implications for everyone involved whether you are the adoptive parents, adopted child or member of the birth family. Anyone whose life has been affected by adoption may need help and support to adjust to the changes which it can bring. The South West London Adoption Consortium (SWLAC) also offers advice and support to adoptive families through every step of the adoption process and beyond.

SWLAC produces a regular newsletter - download the Summer 2017 edition for adoptive families covering news, adoption experiences, feedback from adopters about the adoption process, dates Adoption UK support meetings, and other local support.

If you, or someone that you work with is interested in adoption please visit the South West London Adoption Consortium website.

Tackling child sexual exploitation - advice for parents and practitioners

Merton's Safeguarding Children Board has published a range of resources for parents and practitioners to help to raise awareness about the risk CSE, and also to help 'spot the signs' in children and young people.

There is also a full MSCB Training programme which includes tackling CSE, and other topics relevant to children's safeguarding. See the MSCB Training webpages: www.merton.gov.uk/lscbtraining.

Also, NICE have produced guidance for health professionals in the NHS: 'Quick Reference Guide - when to suspect child maltreatment'.

Merton Safeguarding Children Board Training Programme

MSCB logoThe Merton Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) Training Programme is available to all MSCB member agencies, the voluntary sector and independent sector agencies working with children, young people and their families in Merton.

The training courses aim to improve knowledge, skills and competencies within safeguarding practice. Courses are FREE to Merton statutory, voluntary and faith organisations. The fee for private organisations or organisations based outside the borough of Merton is £75 per delegate for each course booked.

The training programme and online booking is available here.

There are also e-learning courses available for those who cannot make the training courses in child protection, child development and e-safety. These can be booked here.

Enquiries about the MSCB training should be made to, Merton SCB Training Section, 4th Floor, Civic Centre, London Road, Morden SM4 5DX; 020 8545 4866; mertonlscb@merton.gov.uk

News from the Metropolitan Police in Merton

Please see the Merton Police Facebook page, for up to date information from policing in the local area, as well as regular updates from senior Police Officers:

Merton Police Facebook page

 

 

Enjoy and achieve

Now that’s what I call music!

hillcross on the fieldhillcross dancingHillcross Primary School in Morden tells YMT about their exciting summer topic event:

Our Ethos at Hillcross is to support and challenge all children to become caring, collaborative, critical and creative learners. Each year we come together as a school family and focus on the same topic. This gives the whole community the opportunity to work in collaboration on a creative and inspiring theme. This year our topic, which was voted for by children, staff and parents was music. We developed a team of staff and children who planned, developed and led a launch, workshops and a finale.

To launch the topic the staff members all took part in a Lip Sync battle, to win points for the house teams. This was truly the highlight of some children’s year! Across the four weeks we have learnt to use Steel drums, play all genres of music, be part of a rock band, try our hand at being a D.J., perform beatboxing, use reclaimed materials and body percussion to perform and complete a family trip to see STOMP the musical.

Our finale then involved all parents coming to see our spectacular Music on the Field event (see image above left and right). Every year group performed a song, dance or musical piece to the school community. The sun shone and the children sparkled!

The parents loved the event, summed up in the comment ‘It was amazing!’ Zacks Mum (Year 2).

hillcross award winnerThe finale ended with our annual awards being given, this year entitled ‘The Hillcross Brits’. These awards recognise the achievement across the year of pupils and are voted for by the children.

One surprised award winner in Year 4 said ‘I was shocked and excited to win the award. I can’t believe my friends voted for me!’ (Layla H, see image left).

For more photos please check out our website: www.hillcross.merton.sch.uk

Merton’s success in the Stonewall Equality Index 2017

Merton, in its sixth year of completing the Stonewall Education Equality Index, has demonstrated its commitment to tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia (HBT) in our schools. We have now achieved the top position out of London local authorities, and are 13th overall out of the 39 local authorities taking part; this demonstrates a 6% rise in our score!

We have been congratulated by Stonewall on our outstanding result reflecting the incredible work being done to celebrate difference, prevent and tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools and supporting LGBT young people in our local community.

Sarah Rose, Senior Account Manager at Stonewall, said: ‘We’ve seen outstanding work from all of those local authorities that have participated in this year’s Education Equality Index. Merton Council has made huge strides with its phenomenal initiatives and inspiring work with and for local young people, working to celebrate difference and challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.’

This year we have engaged in a range of successful activities which have been very well evaluated by participants including: LGBT+ Health and Wellbeing Conference; presentations and primary school workshops delivered by a student group at Ricards Lodge; and a new LGBT+ youth group in Morden funded by the Merton LGBT+ forum. The Ricards Lodge student group were also featured in a film presented at the Stonewall National Conference in Birmingham.

In order to build on everything we have achieved so far we will be following the recommendations set out in the Stonewall School Report 2017 which states:

  • The use of homophobic language has decreased, with 52 per cent of LGBT people hearing homophobic slurs ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ at school, down from 68 per cent in 2012. 
  • Schools are much more likely to condemn homophobic and biphobic bullying than in previous years. This year seven in ten LGBT young people reported that their school says that homophobic and biphobic bullying is wrong, up from half in 2012 and just a quarter in 2007.

In Merton we continue to ensure that schools are aware of the importance of tackling HBT bullying and derogatory language.

However, while these improvements are encouraging, the report also reveals a much more distressing side to life for LGBT young people today. Rates of poor mental health are alarmingly high among LGBT young people: more than four in five trans young people (84 per cent) have self-harmed, as have three in five lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans (61 per cent).

In Merton, we will continue to address the mental health needs of our LGBT+ young people in the coming year.

Read the full School Report (2017), and find out what you can do to have a positive impact on the lives of young LGBT people, by visiting www.stonewall.org.uk/schoolreport.

 

 

Merton School ‘outstanding,’ says Ofsted

RutlishRutlish School has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted making it one of the top performing schools in Merton. Head teacher Alex Williamson welcomed the news citing staff and pupils ongoing commitment to improvement. “It’s a fantastic achievement and a great reflection of everyone at the school. We have consistently maintained these high standards over a number of years and that is acknowledged by this report.”

Inspectors, who sat in on lessons, spoke to students and met with teaching staff, governors and the local authority, noted that GCSE results for every year since the previous inspection in 2013 exceeded the national average.

Pupils were praised for ‘excellent attitudes to learning’ and ‘impeccable manners’ under the ‘uncompromising leadership of the head teacher and his senior leaders.’

This was matched by school’s governors who impressed Ofsted with their commitment to the progress of all pupils including the disadvantaged and those with special educational needs and disabilities.

The school’s commitment to its 1,000 plus pupils who were described as ‘unfailingly polite and courteous’, included an enrichment programme preparing older pupils for apprenticeship, employment and university

Peter Norrie, Chair of Governors for Rutlish School,  said: “An Ofsted award of its highest possible outstanding judgement for Rutlish School reflects the enormous and continuing effort put in by our first class head teacher and his truly dedicated staff over a number of years.  

“Parents entrust the education of their sons to our excellent, non-selective, non-Academy, local authority comprehensive school, and I hope that they are as pleased and proud as we are on this resounding affirmation of the quality of education and pastoral care their boys receive.”

Cllr Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, Cabinet Member for Education, added: “Merton schools are amongst the best in the country with our secondary schools rated 10th nationally for Progress 8 last year.

“It is absolutely right that this is reflected in this excellent outcome for Rutlish School. My congratulations go to all staff and pupils and to the head teacher and the governors for this ‘outstanding‘ judgement.”    

Cricket Green Special School - an update

Cricket Green Special School (CGS) gives YMT an update on an eventful term

Changing Minds in Merton

New Wimbledon Theatre, which runs a year-round programme of educational work, ran a major 'Changing Minds in Merton' project in seven local schools as part of National Mental Health Awareness week, from May 11-28. The idea behind the project was to use the arts - theatre, dance, photography and film - to get young people talking more openly and honestly about teenage mental health.

The project culminated in an Open Day at New Wimbledon Theatre on July 4 where all the young participants came together to share their performances and have a borough-wide conversation about how young people can work together to end the stigma of mental illness. The young people from Cricket Green performed a highly moving piece and once again made us proud!

Summer Fair 2017

On July 1st CGS had its legendary summer fair! The weather was wonderful (for a change!) and the turnout was fab. We had Benjamina from the Great British Bake Off judging our Victoria Sponge Competition and really loved having her with us. A big thank you to all who donated items, helped set up and down, and man stalls, at this year’s Summer Fair... We managed to raise £2000!!! The money will be used to benefit the pupils of Cricket Green in a variety of ways.

Year 14 trip to Butlins

Our Year 14 students went on a Lifeskills Residential trip to Butlins in Bognor Regis. They stayed in self-catering apartments, bought and prepared their own food and were as independent as possible throughout the stay! They enjoyed many activities including swimming, water slides, a picnic on the beach, ‘Wittington Rocks’ show and the funfair. Everyone had a great time and the trip was a real success, with students and staff returning with big smiles on their faces! We love watching our pupils go from strength to strength.

Secondary Sports Day

On a warm summer's day CGS pupils from descended on the David Weir Centre in Sutton to battle out Senior Sports Day in the heat.

Yet again the rivalries were fierce yet the sportsmanship shone through as students from the upper school competed in nine different events to challenge their sporting progress. Events included throws jumps sprints and races. The Parents took on the teachers in the annual Tug-of-War cheered on by a split crowd of pupils. The Students took on the staff men and staff woman in the relay challenge of the year in the 400m relay dash. It was a fantastic day to be part of and all students behaved and took part to the best of their ability. 

For more information about CGS see the school webpages: www.cricketgreen.merton.sch.uk.

Malmesbury Primary School undertake an exciting Enterprise Week!

EE bakeryIn the first week of July, students from nursery to Year 6 at Malmesbury Primary School in Merton departed from their usual timetables to take on the role of young entrepreneurs working on a range of exciting projects.

Nursery and Reception took on the role of bakers (see image left) and set up their very own pop-up bakery - with highlights including hedgehog bites and star biscuits. Years 1 and 2 became charity workers and set up events to raise money for causes such as British Heart Foundation and WaterAid. EE healthy teethYears 3 and 4 took on the role of health professionals and campaigned to promote healthy lifestyles by setting up health-themed games and giving out leaflets and stickers (see image right). And, Years 5 and 6 became entrepreneurs and set up their own mini businesses providing specialist fun games for other children in the school.

The week’s challenges introduced students to concepts such as market research, advertising and profit-making, and provided a learning framework to nurture creative ideas as they progressed from the drawing board to reality. The week culminated in students setting up stalls at their summer fair where they were running their businesses or advocating their cause. Special guests of the day included parents, carers, local community members and representatives from a local charity.

These extended projects were designed by Enabling Enterprise’s team of teachers to develop students’ core transferrable skills in areas such as working in a team, sharing ideas and problem solving.

Malmesbury Primary have been working with Enabling Enterprise since 2014 to develop their students' enterprise skills. In this time students have been engaging in practical, real-world projects that provide invaluable opportunities for the development of skills that are integral to children’s future learning and their success beyond school.

Sarah Ritchie, Senior Associate at Enabling Enterprise said:

"This week has given students the chance to contribute to the wider community. They have applied skills such as teamwork and problem-solving to a range of challenges focused on helping others and raising awareness of important issues. Walking around the final celebration event, I was really impressed by students' confidence and enthusiasm."

Enabling Enterprise was founded by teachers in 2009, and now works with over 80,000 students nationally. A not-for-profit social enterprise, our vision is to ensure that, one day, every student will leave school with the skills, experiences and aspirations to succeed.

Our practical approach and its impact have been recognised by awards from Teach First and Education Investor who named us their “Partnership of the Year”. In 2015, we won the PwC Social Enterprise Social Impact Award and were highly commended in Social Enterprise UK's 2016 Social Impact Award.

To achieve our mission, we work with primary and secondary schools to build a high level of competence and confidence in eight vital enterprise skills: Being Creative, Problem Solving, Aiming High, Staying Positive, Listening & Understanding, Presenting, Working in a Team and Leading.

We work to achieve our mission in partnership with over 120 employers across a wide range of sectors and 270 schools to make enterprise a core part of the school curriculum.

 

New reading bus for Hollymount Primary School

reading busHollymount Primary opened their new 'reading bus' on Saturday 1 July 2017. The official opening of the new library was held as the school celebrated their 60th birthday at the annual summer fair, with one pupil from each year group cutting the ribbon.

The bus, painted bright blue to match the school colours, sits in the playground providing a fun and exciting environment to promote reading to pupils aged 4 to 11 years.

Eric, who is 6 and in Year 1 said:

“I like it that it's in a bus, that's really different.”

The 'reading bus' was the brainchild of headteacher Philippa Jackson, who explained: “Our school has expanded in recent years and although we have a wonderful new extension, the one thing we did wish for, a library, was not included in the final plans.”

Two parents procured the double decker bus from bus company London General. But while the bus had been offered for free, the school suddenly had a 13-metre-long vehicle on their hands and nowhere to put it. The site needed to be cleared and a concrete slab installed where it could safely stand. Luckily another parent, stepped in to store it for several months.

Ms Jackson explained she had been inspired by another school:

“A double decker bus seemed a unique way of providing a dedicated space for choosing and reading books and promoting reading for pleasure. It’s been a long road since the bus arrived on site in summer 2015 and we couldn’t have done it without many parents helping out at various stages and the funds raised by our wonderful PTA. Now that it is in use, the children are clearly delighted, as am I!”

With the help of local architect Peter Lindsay and others who gave their services for free (including a former pupil), the project was completed in the spring of 2017.

Hollymount's assistant head Irene Lindsay said:

“Reading is the most powerful tool available to inspire, motivate and develop the whole child. Reading for pleasure has been linked to a life-long love of learning and provides the child with skills, wellbeing and the chances to open doors and provide choices throughout life. This bus links pleasure and reading in a way that can only serve to encourage children to develop and pursue an interest in books for life - what more can we as educators want for our children?”

Pupils have already started using the bus and from September each class will have a weekly library visit.

The bus currently has 3,500 books and as they work to build their catalogue, the school has launched a project whereby a pupil or family can make a £10 pledge and in return a named bookplate will be placed in one of the books.

For more information about Hollymount Primary School see the school website.

 

Wheelie good news for scooter fans

Poplar scooter parkMerton is home to the UK’s first dedicated scooter track (See image (l-r): Poplar Primary School pupils Ethan Yadav, Taibah Sadikeen, Sadaf Assad and Douglas Powley with deputy mayor Judy Saunders).

The Grand Prix-style course weaves in and out of a landscaped corner of Mostyn Gardens adjacent to Poplar Primary School. The tarmac track, which includes chicanes, a pit stop, mock petrol pumps, road crossings and shop fronts, is open to 3-11 year-olds during the holidays and at weekends.

The school raised more than £60,000 through various fundraising events, grants and a crowdfunding campaign with contributors including Olympians Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.

The scooter park was the idea of head teacher Katharine Davies. She said: “We have created a unique area allowing children to play safely on their scooters in an imaginative and attractive environment.

“The children, families and community have been amazing in the support they have given to this project and we hope it will be enjoyed by many local families over the summer holidays and in the years to come.”

Deputy Mayor Judy Saunders bought the chequered flag down to officially open the track although the public won’t be allowed in until the start of the summer holidays.

Cllr Nick Draper, Cabinet Member for Community and Culture for Merton Council, added: “What a brilliant idea from the school.  We’re lucky to have great council officers too who helped on this and so many imaginative projects around Merton. My only regret is that I’m too old to scoot around it myself!”

Contributors to the scooter park included Merton Council. Suez Communities Trust and Andrews Property Group who presented a cheque for £10,000.

 

Singlegate School wins borough bowls competition

bowls competitionThe grandees of bowling passed some of their skills onto the younger generation in preparation for the annual Merton Schools Bowling Tournament held in June.

Merton Bowling Club was hosting the event for the third successive year and, together with clubs from Merton Park, Mitcham and Wimbledon Park, helped tutor the four participating schools.

Pupils for Benedict, Garfield, Joseph Hood and Singlegate primary schools each fielded ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams bowling it out over six games or ‘ends.’ The tournament, which is jointly sponsored by Merton Council, was set up to encourage more young people into the sport. The winners were Singlegate School coached by Merton Park Bowling Club (348 points), Jospeh Hood (247), Garfield (241) and Benedict (232).

Cllr Nick Draper said: “Congratulations to all the teams and the work of the clubs involved in coaching them. Bowls is a popular sport in the borough and this is a great way to introduce younger people to the game.”

An update on Merton school Ofsted inspections

Although it may be tempting fate to say so, Ofsted activity in Merton schools has seen a reduction this Summer term in comparison with the experiences of the eight schools that were inspected in the Spring term.

At the beginning of term Rutlish Schools (secondary) was inspected, and its report was finally published on the 19th June. The school received a much deserved judgement of outstanding, with the report identifying that ‘the uncompromising leadership of the headteacher and his senior leaders has created a culture which is highly aspirational’ and that ‘pupils have excellent attitudes to learning and are very proud of their school’ amongst many strengths.

Stanford has received a monitoring visit from an HMI, and the outcomes letter to the headteacher drew out how ‘high expectations set by staff and pupils’ positive attitudes to learning enable staff to challenge pupils’ understanding.’

Park School and Harris Primary Academy have very recently been inspected, and the reports are awaited.

Across the Borough 89% of schools continue to be judged to be good or better, which is in line with the national average, but below the average across London.

For more information on the Merton School Improvement Service contact the Head of Service Elizabeth.fitzpatrick@merton.gov.uk.

 

Positive contribution

A word from our children in care

Finding your voice

Merton's children's services works hard to support the participation of children in care and care leavers to ensure that they are involved in the decision making processes related to the services which they receive.

As part of this, Merton’s Looked After Children (LAC) and Care Leavers continue to be represented by the Children in Care Council (CiCC), a formal group consisting of young people who are regularly consulted on how to improve the services and support that LAC and Care Leavers receive. Members are given the opportunity to complete a course accredited by Asdan as part of their involvement in the work of the CiCC.

Over the past months the CiCC has reviewed the Pledge to Children in Care, met with Councillors (including the Lead Member for Children’s Services Katy Neep) and Senior Managers to discuss the views of Children in Care and Care Leavers and how to improve services.

Areas the CiCC have reviewed include: housing, budgeting, ‘Staying Put’ in foster care, LAC reviews, Independent Reviewing Officer service, health, emotional well being and support when you leave care, and the children in care and care leaver survey.

For young people who may be attending for the first time, it is an opportunity to have their voice heard and have their say about the decisions that are made on their behalf.

The CiCC is not all about meetings, in June members enjoyed a meal at Wagamama in Wimbledon which gave us a chance to get to know each other as a group as well as celebrate our achievements this year.

The Children in Care Council meets monthly. If you, or a child or young person that you work with is interested in attending and getting their voice heard please contact Stuart Barker, Participation Manager, Merton Children's Social Care on 020 8545 4242 or email: stuart.barker@merton.gov.uk.

Merton’s young people have a voice

The Young People’s Participation and Engagement Team within Merton’s Children, Schools and Families Department provides opportunities and support for any child or young person who lives, studies or works in Merton, to influence local policy and decisions on key issues which affect their lives. Chelsea Renehan, the team manager gives YMT an update on ‘user voice’ activity over the last few months:

The work of our team has continued to develop as we review activity in order to continuously refresh and improve our participation offer to young people. We are currently planning a project to deliver short term frontline consultations with young service users in the borough, delivered by students from Goldsmiths University of London. The ‘placement’ students will target consultation activity with users of our commissioned services. We are currently waiting to hear from Goldsmiths about next steps, and then we will work closely with Merton’s Commissioning Team to progress project planning and implementation.

We have continued to strengthen our partnership working across Merton’s Children’s Trust. This has included: attending the Central London Community Healthcare Trust (Merton’s community health provider) Quality Stakeholder Group to give advice on participation approaches including a ‘listening event’ and a ‘staff attitude’ survey to assess approaches to ‘user voice’ in practice; contributing to the interview process for a new assistant team manager for Merton’s My Futures Team; and meeting Catch22, who are commissioned to provide a range of services to support young people, to advise on monitoring and evaluating ‘user engagement’ approaches.

Our Merton Youth Parliament (MYP) continues to go from strength to strength; please see the full article here: Merton Youth Parliament: a new manifesto and more.

In addition to this we have continued to support our key groups of young people to have an impact on the following areas of work delivered across Merton’s Children’s Trust:

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

We are committed to ensuring that our most vulnerable young people are heard and recognised as equal and active contributors to their own needs. We are currently reviewing the Education, Health and Care Plan process to ensure that it captures the views of children and their families, and, with the help of members of MYP, we are exploring the best ways to implement participation opportunities for young people with SEN and/or disabilities (SEND).

Health

Merton’s Young Inspectors worked with EcoLocal to contribute to the Merton Great Weight debate, giving their views on childhood obesity and healthy eating from a young person’s perspective. They consulted local takeaways in Mitcham, promoting the Merton Healthy Catering Commitment, and encouraging proprietors to sign up. They then attended the Great Weight Debate Hakathon which saw young people and community adults come together to explore how best to encourage young people to make healthy food choices.

We are conducting a targeted consultation of behalf of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group, using interviews and focus groups, to explore young people’s experiences of commissioned ‘tier 2’ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and their views on how these services could be developed. This feedback will inform the development of the ‘getting help’ element of the new iThrive model.

Funding has been secured from Merton Public Health and the Clinical Commissioning Group to develop a group of health inspectors to deliver the NHS ‘You’re Welcome’ quality criteria for young people friendly health services, to ‘youth proof’ local health providers including GPs and pharmacies. The new group has met and contributed to developing an outline action plan which will be reviewed by funding partners. They will undertake training and development over August and begin to plan their consultation process and quality assurance indicators.

Safety – please follow this link for an update on a MOPAC funded project: Young Advisers to explore policing and youth crime reduction.

For more information on the work of the Young People’s Participation and Engagement Team please contact chelsea.renehan@merton.gov.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merton Youth Parliament: a new manifesto and more

Since their elections earlier in the year the Merton Youth Parliament has been working hard to develop their new manifesto.

The Merton Youth Parliament (MYP) is a forum for young people aged 12-17 years and up to 25 years for Special Needs. Merton's children's services are committed to supporting the group to influence and be part of the democratic processes of the local authority

Their work began with an intense training weekend where they learned about Merton the borough, including information about children and young people’s outcomes, equality and diversity, advocacy, and managing themselves. During the weekend the young people agreed on a range of collective values for the MYP.

Since the training the group have met every two weeks in order to plan their manifesto, which is being informed by feedback from the Annual Residents Survey, along with a consultation they conducted with 60 young people at Mitcham carnival. In response to issues raised in the consultations the MYP priority campaign for the year will be related to gangs and youth crime. In order to understand this issue in the Merton context, they have invited Merton’s Youth Justice Service to speak at an upcoming meeting.

Three members of MYP attended ‘The Convention on Brexit and the political crash’. One of our young women, aged 13 asked ‘why are young people are not considered in the discussions around Brexit, and why doesn’t the youth voice matter’. This led to a small panel discussion in which modern philosopher A.C. Grayling advocated for the adoption of votes at 16. Also, young people met Nick Clegg and sought his advice on how he thinks young people should be engaged in decision making. This followed his discussion of this in his key note speech.

Three young people attended the annual British Youth Council event Equality4Us, a ‘table top’ discussion for young people on equality issues. Our young people attended discussions on issues for Black and ethnic minorities, LGBT, and SEN and Disabilities. While they felt that the discussions broadened their understanding of the wider policy developments in these areas, they felt that the forum did not identify any clear and achievable actions for young people to take forward.

In light of the Manchester Arena bombing, MYP wrote to Manchester Youth Council with a letter of solidarity. This was greatly received, and has been passed onto the Head of Service in Manchester and the Northwest Youth Network. We anticipate a growing relationship with Manchester quoting their participation work “this looks like the start of a lovely friendship”. In keeping with their values and the ‘people first’ mind set, MYP also laid flowers at the site of Grenfell Towers.

And finally, the first planning taskforce meeting for the ‘Area Youth Forum’ will be delivered this month (July 2017) by MYP representatives. It is anticipated that forums, which will meet in Mitcham, Morden, Wimbledon, Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon, and Raynes Park, will start from the beginning of the new academic year. They will be quarterly community meetings offering open access to any young person aged 11 – 19 (or 25 for those with SEN or disabilities) allowing young people to voice, discuss and unpack issues affecting them.

For more information on the work of the MYP and Young People’s Participation and Engagement Team please contact chelsea.renehan@merton.gov.uk.

 

Do you know a budding young actor?

Wimbledon Civic Theatre Trust (WCTT) are now actively seeking new members for WCTT Young Actors Company. If you know any young people who may be interested please send them this registration form. They can fill it in online and email to: assist_newwimbledon@yahoo.co.uk, or drop a paper copy in at New Wimbledon Theatre Stage Door, The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1QG.

INTERESTED IN ACTING? AGED 11-19?

Then WCTT Young Actors Company @ New Wimbledon Theatre could be for you.

WCTT Young Actors Company is FREE to join and welcomes ALL young people who live or attend school in Merton and are interested in drama either as a hobby or a career.

We rehearse every Sunday in term time and produce high quality productions every March.

Auditions for 2017/18 will be on 10th September and we value dedication and enthusiasm as much as acting ability.

To join the Young Actors please fill in the attached registration form and send it to Katie at: assist_newwimbledon@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Merton Transforming Families’ lives

Merton’s Transforming Families (TF) service successfully supports vulnerable families to turn their lives around by helping them tackle problems related to unemployment, youth crime and/or anti-social behaviour, educational difficulties, and health problems. It is Merton’s response to the Government’s widely publicised Troubled Families initiative which, when originally launched in 2012, aimed to ‘turn around’ the lives of 120,000 families.

By the end of the first phase of delivery of the programme (2012-2015) Merton had one of the highest performing ‘Troubled Families’ teams in London and in the country. During this phase the performance of every local authority in the country was published at regular intervals following the submission of ‘Payment by Results’ claims which track and represent the outcomes which have been achieved for families. When phase one concluded, Merton was one of the authorities which had ‘turned around’ 100% of its families.

The programme is now in phase two of its delivery (2015-2020) and Merton’s TF service continues to deliver its work, in partnership with other key teams across the borough, guided by the Government’s prescribed outcomes and financial framework. The service continues to perform strongly, and according to the Government report, Supporting Disadvantaged Families; TF programme 2015-2020, progress so far, is currently in second place in London with respect to turning around the lives of some of the borough’s most disadvantaged families.

For more information on Merton’s TF programme contact the manager on ernest.evwaraye@merton.gov.uk.

 

Trans inclusion in education

Merton's School Improvement (MSI) Service, along with colleagues in Wandsworth, are working with schools in a range of ways, to help them to support pupils who may be exploring their gender identity. This is part of the service's broader remit to support schools to ensure that all children and young people have an equal opportunity to access and achieve in education.

In a recent email to schools the MSI service circulated the fact sheet produced by MermaidsUK, the organisation which offers support and information for gender variant children and teens, their families and friends:

School leaders and staff are encouraged to read and discuss the information in the fact sheet which includes links to a range of online information and resources for schools and other professionals.

In addition to the fact sheet the MSI service has cascaded the following useful information to schools to provide context on this subject, and to highlight further training and support that will be available in the coming months:

Being Trans

  • Not all gender variant children will grow up to identify as trans, but 40% of young people first thought they were trans aged 11 or under. (Metro Youth Chances 2014).
  • Just over 9 in 10 LGBT+ young people report learning nothing about trans issues at school. Nearly half of LGBT+ young people say their time was affected by discrimination or fear of discrimination. (Metro Youth Chances 2014).
  • Nearly 59% of trans young people had deliberately hurt themselves compared to 8.9% of all 16-24 year olds, and 48% of trans young people have attempted suicide. (PACE 2014)

Equality Act 2010

This act protects gender variant and trans children and young people with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment(See 'Mermaids fact sheet' for further clarification of this).

Ofsted School Inspection framework

Ofsted continues to evaluate how pupils benefit from their school paying particular attention to those with protected characteristics. Inspectors will also consider the effectiveness of the school’s actions to prevent and tackle prejudice-based bullying.

Training needs identified by Merton and Wandsworth schools

  • ‘Information on support for trans pupils in primary school’
  • ‘How to deal with confrontation/direct homophobia/transphobia.’
  • ‘Parents who are unaccepting’

(Feedback from the Merton and Wandsworth Trans Inclusion in Education Consultation held in June 2017).

Staff training and the 'Trans Toolkit' for schools

Merton and Wandsworth local authorities are planning a training event for school staff to raise awareness of 'Trans Inclusion in Education' for the Autumn term 2017. The Merton and Wandsworth 'Trans Toolkit for schools' is being developed in consultation with professionals, and with children and young people, and will be available later in the year. 

For further information and support on this issue, for details of the training event, and for an update in the toolkit please contact the lead officer on equalities in the MSI Service ann.long@merton.gov.uk.

 

LGBT+ Forum

A message from the Chair, Tyrone Ashby:

Hello and good day to you all.

In May we held a special remembrance IDAHOT Day at Merton Civic Centre in partnership with the Merton Council. With over 30 people attending even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the people who turned up at Morden Civic Centre to support International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Opening speeches came from last years Mayor Brenda Fraser and Cllr Edith Macaulay, both supporters of the Merton LGBT+ Forum and the work we do for the whole Merton Community. A two minute silence the followed while the rainbow flag was raised.

Further speeches from myself and Natalie, Youth Project Director, and a chance for people to network and talk about the events of the day and the great work we at the Forum have been doing these past two years.

The LGBT+ Forum Newsletter summer edition is available for download here: LGBT+ forum newsletter summer 2017.

Printed copies are available and iff you would like a printed version or would like to advertise something relating to the LGBT+ community or Merton then email us by clicking here and give us your addess.

The new LGBT+ Youth Club is back on Thursdays from 7pm at the Endeavour Club Morden, all welcome including LGBT friends and young family. If you would like more information contact us by clicking here.

We recently made the Wimbledon Guardian newspapper and soon to be in the SW Londoner click here to read the Guardian press release

Also look out for the new Hate Crime Awareness Workshops coming in August (delayed due to recent events and Pride) in partnership with Merton Police Team (Digital Dave Haywood) , Victim Support, DV One Stop and Merton Council Safer Neighbourhood team.

Again still loads to do to support all of the community in this great borough of ours.

Best wishes,

Tyrone.

Please note this 'welcome' was reproduced from the LGBT+ Forum website www.mertonlgbtforum.org.uk/

Pollards Hill Community Fun Day

This year's Pollards Hill Community Fun Day is on Wednesday 26th July from 12-4pm at Donnelly Green, Pollards Hill CR4 1LT.

For more information download the promotional flyer.

Economic well-being

Success for Merton's SMARTChoice learners

SMARTChoice girlsThis year, 25 young people aged 15 – 16 graduated from the SMARTChoice programme.

SMARTChoice provides educational provision to learners who require support to access education taught in English; it is delivered by and at St Mark’s CofE Academy on behalf of The SMART Centre.

SMARTChoice boysSome of the learners are completely new to English and some have no past experience of formal education. Of the 25 young people who attended this year, 9 were looked after children to 5 different local authorities. All are welcomed and supported to achieve, and all completed the program with the offer of a place in education or on a training program.

In recognition of their hard work, they were awarded with certificates of completion and SMARTChoice branded jumpers at a celebratory event in June. We sincerely wish them all the best.

Twice as much free early education and childcare

childcare choicesAll 3 and 4-year-old children are entitled to up to 15 hours a week of free (funded) early education and childcare. This adds up to 570 hours a year and is called the universal entitlement.

From September 2017, some 3 and 4-year-olds with working parents can get an additional 15 hours a week or up to 1,190 hours per year. The extra 15 hours are called the extended entitlement (also known as 30 hours).

To be eligible for the extended entitlement, families must meet all the following criteria:

  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and;
  • Each earns or expects to earn a minimum equivalent to 16 hours a week at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months and;
  • Each earns less than £100,000 a year

This applies whether parents are in paid employment, self-employed or on a zero hours contract. If parents are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or unable to work because they are disabled or have caring responsibilities, they could still be eligible.

The child is entitled to the extended entitlement from the term after both of the following conditions are met:

  • the child is age three
  • the child’s parent has checked their eligibility and met the economic criteria and received an 11 digit code as confirmation

Parents can check their eligibility for the new entitlement (and other childcare support such Tax Free Childcare) through Childcare Choices

www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/

Deadlineparents wishing to use this new entitlement from September MUST apply and receive their eligibility code by 31 August 2017

If you know of working families whose 3-year-old children are starting in their universal places in September and who may be eligible, please do remind them to check right away via Childcare Choices.

Some schools and many private nurseries, preschools and childminders will be offering extended entitlement places from September. Families can take up their universal and extended entitlement hours with more than one provider, but not at more than two sites in any one day.

fsd@merton.gov.uk

 

Merton Volunteer Police Cadets support Armed Forces Day 2017

AFD VPC 1On Saturday 24 June 2017, young people from Merton’s Volunteer Police Cadets and London Fire Brigade Cadets joined forces to march together to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

AFD VPC 2As part of south London’s only town centre parade march, the Cadets joined Army Reserve units from 151 Transport Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, Veterans from the Royal British Legion and the Ghurka Associaton, with other community and youth groups.

The 999 Cadets were led by Schools PC Marco Cetara and London Fire Brigade Cadets Coordinator Nikki Rees, supported by volunteer leaders and cadets from both Services.

The Salute was taken by Deputy Lieutenant for Merton, Mrs Claire Whelan and Mayor of Merton.

Police and Fire Cadets serve in different units but work closely on joint events as part of one big 999 Cadet family. They were inspected by Merton police borough commander Chief Superintendent Steve Wallace (see photo) who praised both units and said they were a credit to both the Met Police and London Fire Brigade.”

Merton's Family Services Directory and SEN Local Offer

FSDThe Merton Family Services Directory and Special Educational Needs Local Offer is available at www.merton.gov.uk/fsd.

The website provides details of a broad range of services for families in Merton. The new site has been built using ‘responsive’ technology, meaning it can be viewed and used easily via smart phones and tablets.

If you are working with families whose first language is not English, you may wish to try the Google Translate button at the bottom of each page of the pages of the site.

If you have any feedback about the information currently included please contact us using the contact form on the site: or by emailing fsd@merton.gov.uk.

Activities for Merton's young people

Young Merton

 

Young Merton is packed with information about places to go and things to do for young people in Merton all year round. With details of more than 300 activities from ball sports to street dance, martial arts to music, theatre clubs to youth groups and more, Young Merton brings you plenty of choice to fill your free time.

Lots of information is provided to help you choose what you want to do, including accessibility details for young people with disabilities or special needs.

Find out more: Young Merton.

Citizens Advice Merton & Lambeth

CABCAB Merton and Lambeth tell YMT about their My mate Al service:

My Mate Al is our service aimed specifically at young people. We have help to assist young people to access the information and advice that they need.

My Mate AI provides advice by telephone on 0344 243 8430 and via web chat & email at www.mlcab.org.uk .

The service runs alongside our normal information and advice services and is delivered by our younger volunteers (16-26 years). It is free, confidential, independent and impartial.

Please let us know if you would like some publicity and marketing materials by contacting samantha.richardson@mertoncab.org.uk

Training and events

Children's Workforce Induction 2017

The Merton Children's Trust hosts Children's Workforce Induction Training. This is an opportunity for any new staff to develop an understanding of Merton's approach to integrated, multi-agency working with children, young people and families. Scheduled sessions are as follows:

These are open to all new members of staff from any statutory, community, voluntary, private or independent organisation in Merton working with children, young people and families.

If you would like to book a place please send an email stating which session you would like to attend, your name, job title, the agency you work for and your manager's name to childrensworkforce@merton.gov.uk. For information and enquiries please call 0208 545 3867.

National policy and research

National Policy Updates

Children's Social Care

Youth inclusion

Education

Early years

Cross cutting

National training and events

Children's services conferences and training

For information on conferences and training for those working in children's services visit: www.capitaconferences.co.uk/public-sector-conferences/childrens-services, or email: Dave.Eastman@Capita.co.uk

National consultations

Government consultations relating to children and young people

This page of the www.gov.uk website lists all government consultations related to children and young people.

You can also access government consultations on all other topics

Continuous Improvement

Children and families shaping services

Our children’s trust services and organisations have a longstanding commitment to listening to the voice of children, young people (CYP) and families. This ambition has been expressed in every one of our Children and Young People’s Plan since they were first published. 

Our Children and Families’ Voice Framework 2017-19, follows on from our ‘User Voice Strategy’, which ran from 2014-16. The framework restates our commitment to ensuring that users are central to our approach to supporting children and families. It also refines our five commitments to ensuring that our approach is the most effective it can be; explicitly recognising the voice of families in the context of our refreshed Wellbeing Model and “Think Family” approach, which looks to enable families to manage their own affairs and strengthen their own resilience. Our five commitments are as follows:

  • Delivering our Participation Promise: Providing opportunities for all children and young people to influence Merton the place.
  • Child focused: enabling children and young people who are service users to influence improvement to our systems, services and processes. These changes will improve things for all service users.
  • Delivering on Merton’s approach to casework practice: Putting the wishes and feelings of children and young people who are subject of a plan, at the centre of decision making and planning. These changes will improve things for the individual child and their circumstances.
  • Think Family: enabling families, parents and carers to influence change which empowers them to manage their own affairs, impact decisions about their children and ultimately deliver better outcomes.
  • Building capacity across the Children’s Trust to engage in good quality, ethical and impactful ‘User Voice Activity’, the learning from which is shared with all stakeholders, including participants.

The Children and Families’ Voice Framework 2017-19 will be implemented through annual action plans, and will continue to be monitored by the Children’s Trust, Merton Safeguarding Children Board and the Children, Schools and Families Departmental Management Team.

For more information about the framework contact the lead officer on Naheed.chaudhry@merton.gov.uk.

 

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