Young Merton Together

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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



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 –

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

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:

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Slawek Szczepanski at Polish Family Association on 07917401064 or

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:

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:

For more information about private fostering, please call 020 8545 3672 or visit:

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

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