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Welcome from Yvette Stanley, Merton's Director of Children's Services
I am very pleased to be able to open this edition of Young Merton Together with the result of the Ofsted inspection of our children's services that took place during June, one of the best results in the country.
Ofsted found that our children's services are 'Good' overall, with the Adoption service, and leadership and management rated as 'Outstanding'. Our Merton Safeguarding Children Board was also rated as 'Outstanding'; just one of five in the country.
The report also highlighted many areas of good practice in Merton including our support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people; Effective CAMHS support in children's social care and the Virtual School for Looked After Children. It also noted some innovations which are in development including Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC), and the 'edge of care' service.
During the last week of the inspection we were visited by Robert Goodwill MP the Minister of State for Children and Families. His letter of thanks to the Leader of Merton Council after the visit, and after the publication of the Ofsted report in August, highlighted that 'the services vulnerable children receive in Merton are often impressive and in some cases outstanding'.
The very positive inspection outcome is a testament to colleagues in the council and those working in organisations across Merton's Children's Trust. I would very much like to extend my thanks to all of you for your commitment and contribution to making Merton the very best place in which to live, learn and grow.
In addition to Ofsted related good news stories, this month's edition is packed with examples of the great work that continues to go on across the borough, showing that while we are celebrating our success, there is certainly no evidence of 'resting on one's laurels', and that our commitment to continuous improvement prevails.
Our school exam results have continued to rise this year for Key Stage 4: A strong performance by pupils in GCSEs and Key Stage 5: Summer's A' level results in Merton above national average. Additional stories from schools include updates from the secondary phase: Ursuline, Wimbledon College, Ricard's Lodge, St Mark's Academy, and Cricket Green Special School; and the primary phase: Benedict, and Malmesbury. These illustrate how schools continue to go the extra mile to support their pupils and provide incredible opportunities for them to enjoy and achieve.
On the theme of health you can read about: Changing minds about teenage mental health; All Together United Against Bullying; Join us at our next Child and Adolescent Mental Health Network Meeting; Ask About Asthma campaign; Health Matters website for community health; and an update from Merton Public Health.
On the theme of user voice this edition includes: Merton Youth Parliament preparing for the Police Think Tank; Empowering families to transform their lives; Kids First Forum for parents of children with SEN or disabilities; and an update on the Merton Volunteer Police Cadets.
We also have information about a number of events that are coming up in October including National Adoption Week, and Merton Foster Carers' Association - Black History Month Celebrations.
It just remains for me to highlight that we have now launched our new Child, Young Person and Family Well-Being Model (MWBM) 2017, which comes with a refreshed graphic of the model, and a restatement of our Children's Trust ambitions and values. This information will be followed up by tools and training to support the model during the 2017/18 academic year. This will ensure greater understanding across the network, of our children's social care systemic approach and utilisation of 'Signs of Safety' as a tool for arising risk and vulnerability, and improving communications and direct work with families.
I wish you well for the coming months, and look forward to introducing the next edition in late November.
Warm wishes, Yvette.
Merton Council Cabinet Member for Children's Services
Councillor Katy Neep, Merton Council's Lead Member for Children's Services, gives an update on her work, to Young Merton Together:
With the nights drawing in and the rain consistently falling it may be difficult to cast your mind back to those hot muggy days at the end of June, and early July when we received our visit from Ofsted. They stayed with us for four weeks, conducting 206 interviews with staff and partners, tracking and auditing 162 cases and reviewing 429 documents, as well as attending a range of meetings and focus groups as observers.
Once again I want to take this opportunity to give my thanks and congratulations to each and everyone of you for the great result that was formally announced on the 25th August. Under a new and more challenging inspection regime Merton has been judged 'Good' with 'Outstanding' features. To put that in context currently only three authorities in the UK have been awarded 'Outstanding' and only a handful 'Good' with 'Outstanding' features. This means we are in the top three local authorities in London and top 10 nationally.
As we have discussed many time before through the Children’s Trust it really does take a village to raise a child and this success is, as Ofsted note, in a large part down to the “strong partnership, shared accountability and challenge” which is clearly evident in Merton.
This outcome of course is part of a journey that the borough has been on over a number of years seeking to ensure that in all areas we are striving to ensure our young people are safe, healthy, happy and successful. I know that this is not always easy to achieve, especially as we face further funding cuts, changing policy requirements and a need to work ever more increasingly across partners and borough boundaries.
However I am confident we will face these challenges head on and will work collectively to ensure that we take on board all the recommendations of the report, as well as the improvements we have already identified for ourselves.
Over the coming months, I will be focussing on the budget planning process, our continued support for the early years and implementation of 30 hours free childcare and the 2 year old offer, as well as the continued development of our SEN and Disabilities strategy to name but a few of the highlights. All of these will require the continued input, critique and support of you as our partners and staff members. To this end please do get in touch with me if you have any questions or comments at all as I would be delighted to hear from you.
For more information about Councillor Neep's role and how to get in touch see her Merton webpage.
Merton children’s services receives one of the highest Ofsted ratings in the country
“Children in Merton benefit from services which are dynamic, ambitious and successful. Exceptional leadership and governance and strong frontline management ensure that children’s services are consistently good. All children receive a good service and some receive an outstanding service.” Report of the Ofsted Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017).
Congratulations to all staff who work in Merton’s children's services, who have achieved one of the highest Ofsted inspection ratings - ‘Good’ overall with some aspects rated as ‘Outstanding’ - making Merton one of the top performing children’s services in London and England.
Inspectors rated our Merton Safeguarding Children Board as ‘Outstanding’ making it one of just five in the country to achieve the highest performance rating: “Merton’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) is outstanding. It is highly effective in holding agencies to account for their individual safeguarding arrangements in the welfare and protection of children.”
In addition, Ofsted rated the following aspects of our services as ‘Outstanding’:
Leadership, management and governance: “Strong partnership and shared accountability are clearly evidenced. The Chief Executive, Lead Member and Director of Children’s Services all have active membership roles [in local strategic partnership thematic boards] which ensures…strategic plans and localised improvement plans are aligned with each other and are overseen by mature and exceptionally strong partnerships.”
Adoption performance: “Adoption performance is outstanding, with all children requiring adoption currently placed and no children waiting. Merton has not had an adoption placement breakdown for over five years.”
And, the remaining judgement areas were all ranked ‘Good’:
Children who need help and protection: “Children are protected through an outstanding early help offer and a robust ‘front door’, to consider which intervention would help them best.... Effective intervention at an early stage is having a positive impact on the number of children who require more specialist support.”
Children looked after and achieving permanence: “Children looked after in Merton receive a consistently good service. The needs of each individual child are known well. Children become looked after at the right time and without unnecessary delay…The role of the corporate parent is well embedded and is taken very seriously.”
Experience and progress of care leavers: “Care leavers do well in Merton. The vast majority are in touch with staff, and determined efforts are made to re-engage with those who are not.”
The inspection outcome represents the commitment of all Children’s Trust organisations across the borough to work together to improve outcomes for our children and families.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Katy Neep, said: “The report and inspection reflects the hard work and commitment of staff across the children’s services department who ensure the child’s voice is heard and responded to. Enabling them to keep our most vulnerable children safe and ensure they receive the right support. Not only is this rating a testament to all our staff, it also reflects the great work that we deliver in partnership through our schools, voluntary sector partners, the police, NHS and of course our parents and carers.”
Chair of Merton Safeguarding Children Board, Keith Makin said: “The board’s ‘Outstanding’ rating from Ofsted is a testament to the strong links we have made with our partners with whom we work closely to protect children at risk of harm.”
Read the Report of the Ofsted Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017).
If you would like to share a summary of the report with the children, young people and families that you work with see: Ofsted’s report for children and young people.
See also the following articles on Ofsted’s inspection:
Summer's A' level results in Merton above national average
Students and teachers in Merton maintained schools are celebrating a set of A' level results which are above the national average.
In a year which has seen some significant changes nationally, the proportion of A*-E grades achieved by Merton students was 99%, above the national percentage of 98%.
This summer, the first year of students completed the new-style A' level courses, which are now assessed only by final exams. Subjects also contain new content, to meet the requirements of higher education.
- At Raynes Park High School the proportion of A* to E grades achieved was 99% – above the national average of 98%.
- Pupils in the combined sixth form for Ricards Lodge High School and Rutlish School (RR6) achieved 98% A* to E grades and 77% A* to C grades, in line with the national average.
- At Ursuline High School, the proportion of A* to C grades achieved was 81%, and of A* to E grades, was 99%, both of which are above the national average.
- Wimbledon College pupils achieved 75% A* to C grades, a 4% improvement on last year’s results and 99% A* to E grades, above the national average.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah said: “Congratulations to all the students on their A-level results and I wish them well with their future plans. All secondary schools in Merton are rated as Good or Outstanding by Ofsted and these results are a testament to that. I am very proud of the committed teachers we have in Merton who continue to provide excellent learning opportunities for our young people at high-performing schools across the borough.”
Cllr Cooper-Marbiah visited the joint Rutlish Lodge High School and Ricards School’s joint Sixth Form with the Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Alambritis on Thursday to congratulate students on their success.
She said: “We were delighted to have met so many students in person to share their good news as they found out their results. It was a real honour to see so many young people having been brought up and educated to such high standards in our borough.”
A strong performance by pupils in GCSEs
Merton schools have demonstrated strong GCSE performance again.
This summer saw the first of a new series of significant changes in GCSEs in England. The content of English language, English literature and maths exams was more challenging this year, and the grades obtained by students were expressed as 9 (the highest) to 1, instead of A* to G. Grade 4 and above is broadly equivalent to a C and above. Despite the raised expectations Merton students have demonstrated excellent results.
72% of Merton students have gained grades 4 – 9 in both English and maths. In comparison with the proportion achieving grades A*– C last year, this is an increase of 2%, and well above the national average for 2016.
34% of students achieved the English Baccalaureate (grade 4 or above in English and mathematics, and grade C or above in science subjects, history or geography and a language) keeping Merton well above national standards, and an improvement of 4% on the local authority’s performance last year.
Students at Ursuline performed well above the 2016 national average (image above),
with 82% achieving grades 4 – 9. At Raynes Park, with 62% of students achieving grades 4 – 9 in English and maths, this is above last year’s national average of 59%. At Ricards Lodge, outcomes improved by 11%: with 78% of students achieving grades 4 – 9 in English and maths, and above last year’s national average. 69% of Rutlish students achieved grades 4 – 9 in English and maths, an improvement on performance last year and above last year’s national average. Results remained steady at St Mark’s Academy, with 54% of students achieving grades 4 – 9 (St Mark's pupils celebrating image right
). Outcomes also improved at Wimbledon College, with 81% of students achieving grades 4 – 9 in English and maths, which is again above last year’s national average.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah said: “Congratulations to all the pupils who received their GCSE results yesterday. I had the opportunity to meet some of them and celebrate their success. As pupils talked about their exciting plans for further study, it was clear that our high-performing Merton schools and dedicated teachers across the borough have given pupils a strong foundation to fulfil their future potential.”
Meet the adopters this National Adoption Week
People interested in adopting a child will have a chance to meet adoptive parents at an event during National Adoption Week.
The adopters will be sharing their experiences with prospective adoptive parents and answering their questions about the adoption application and approval process, how children are matched to adoptive parents and about family life with their adopted child.
The event will be held in the Merton Civic Centre on Wednesday 18 October from 3pm-8pm. This will be in the middle of National Adoption Week, which aims to raise awareness of adoption and encourage prospective new adoption parents to come forward.
In Merton, new adopters are needed for children over the age of three, siblings who need to stay together, young children and babies with uncertainty about their health and development, and there is always a shortage of adopters from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Merton Council’s adoption service performance was rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted, following an inspection in July. Children’s Services was given an overall 'Good' rating, making it one of the top performing local authorities in the country. Inspectors wrote in their report: “Adopters spoke consistently of the excellent quality and timeliness of matching and placement.”
For more information about adoption, to book your place at the Meet the Adopters event on 18 October or to attend one of the Adoption Information Meetings to hear from social workers about the assessment process, eligibility criteria and the types of children waiting visit: www.southwestlondonadoption.org.uk, call 020 8545 4688 or email: email@example.com
For information about adoption in Merton see the webpages.
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: Merton's new Child, young person and family well-being model
Five London boroughs join forces to commission innovative outcomes-based family support programme
Merton Council is part of the Pan-London Care Impact Partnership - with Tower Hamlets, Bexley, Newham and Sutton councils - which was formed to deliver Multi-Systemic and Functional Family Therapy services for councils within the partnership, levering in financial resources using a Social Impact Bond (SIB). The aim of the programme is to keep vulnerable families together and prevent children from being taken into care.
The partnership has commissioned Positive Families Partnership to deliver the infrastructure of the SIB and to deliver the services. A SIB is a way of financing a ‘Payment by Results’ contract, which means Positive Families Partnership will be paid only if it succeeds in meeting certain milestones related to keeping the young person with their family.
- Positive Families Partnership is a new initiative designed to keep vulnerable families together and prevent children from being taken into care
- It will provide over 350 at-risk families with evidence-based therapeutic intervention programmes with an established track record
- This is the first programme of its type in London
- A unique collaboration between the social sector, local government and social investors.
Positive Families Partnership utilises three specialist delivery partners, who collectively bring over 25 years’ experience of implementing evidence-based programmes across the UK: Family Psychology Mutual, Family Action UK, and the South West London & St George's Mental Health NHS Trust.
Positive Families Partnership will benefit from management support from Social Finance UK and Bridges Fund Management, with the latter also providing over £4.5m of funding to cover the up-front costs of the programme.
The therapeutic programmes are designed to help address the young person’s behavioural issues and improve how the family functions. These programmes – intensive, holistic interventions based on rigorous evidence – will work with young people involved in serious antisocial behaviour and/or substance misuse.
Referrals will be made by children’s social care and will be agreed at Panel meetings to ensure referrals meet the criteria for Multi-Systemic and Functional Family Therapy.
In its recent Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017) Ofsted highlights the importance of being involved in the development of new approaches to family support:
“Senior managers are outward facing and regularly invite external peer reviews of their services. They are actively engaged with, or lead, regional groups and initiatives and are eager to learn about social work practice in other local authorities. This is exemplified in the leadership of the introduction of a Family Drug and Alcohol Court, and the active participation in an evolving social impact bond edge-of-care service, which will include multi-systemic and functional family therapies".
Foster a teen and fill your empty nest!
If September sees your child heading off to university or moving out, you might find life becomes a bit quiet.
So why not use your years of parenting experience - and spare room - to help a local teenager by becoming a foster carer?
There is a shortage of foster carers for teenagers and sibling groups in the borough, which could be down to misunderstanding. While a common misconception is that young people come into foster care because of their behaviour, the reality is that more often children come into care because of difficult circumstances at home.
By offering a teenager a foster home, you will be helping them to fulfil their potential at a critical stage in their life.
Anyone can apply to foster, whatever their background, marital status or sexual orientation. You don’t need to have had children of your own, just a spare bedroom, however some childcare experience is desirable.
Fostering will not prevent you from working, as long as you can be flexible, and you have a supportive network of friends or family. If you are on benefits, fostering will not affect these.
Elaine Atkinson is a foster carer, who specialises in looking after young people aged between 12 and 18. “I enjoy seeing them blossom,” she said. “Some of the children have gone through so many unpleasant things, but as a foster parent you can take them on to the next stage and help prepare them for the world.”
Merton council provides comprehensive support for foster carers. This includes a three-and-a-half-day training course, which forms part of the application process. Once approved as a Merton foster carer, you will receive up to £507 per week for each child you foster and be assigned your own social worker for ongoing support.
If you’d like to find out more about the role visit www.merton.gov.uk/fostering or call 0800 073 0874 or 020 8545 4070.
Merton Foster Carers' Association - Black History Month Celebrations, 26th October 2017
Come and celebrate Black History Month with Merton Foster Carers’ Association for the day.
We will be hosting a fun-filled day of music and dancing, a fashion show, barbeque lunch and much more on:
26th October between 11.30am-3.30pm - Tickets cost £5.
For full details of the even, and for tickets please email: Rosie.Bradley@merton.gov.uk
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:
Changing minds about teenage mental health
Mental illness doesn’t discriminate - it affects us all. Part of the problem is that we don’t like to talk about it, especially with young people…
On 4 July this year local charity Wimbledon Community Theatre Trust (WCTT) brought together 500 young people from across our borough for the very first Merton Healthy Minds Day at New Wimbledon Theatre. It was a day of theatre, dance, photography and film - all made by and for young people. As well as the performances the audience also took part in discussions, workshops and Q&A sessions with guest speakers from local mental health services, including Stem 4, Off The Record and HealthWatch Merton.
The day was the culmination of six months of work by our artistic team in Merton schools. With support from senior teachers, over 150 pupils volunteered to take part in the project and from the very outset we were determined that young people themselves would be right at the heart of the project. Our aim was to provide them with the support and information they needed to give voice to their own feelings about mental health, how it was perceived and how it had affected their lives.
The seven groups looked at different kinds of mental health issues and talked about the pressures they felt at school, online and in their home and social lives. They also decided together what messages they felt were most important in order to “change minds” about mental health.
The pieces they created were first shared within their school community as part of National Mental Health Awareness Week in May - followed up by workshops and school assemblies exploring the issues raised, meaning that in all over 2500 young people were involved in the debate.
Finally we “brought it all together” on the main stage at New Wimbledon Theatre - our main partner in the project and a valued supporter of our charity’s work.
It was an inspiring day. All groups presented their work to their peers and answered questions about the stories they had created and the message they wanted to put across. The message was very clear and simple: we need to talk more and judge less. As one student said after seeing a performance, “Mental illness is not a joke. We need to take mental health more seriously. I will not forget this!”
WCTT is grateful to Wimbledon Foundation and the Steel Foundation for their financial help with this project. For more information about WCTT and the work it does with young people in our community, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images by Andy Barker.
Merton swimmers make a splash at London Youth Games
Swimmers Maia Dunleavy, Kelly Bone, Sophie Whelan and Leah Thomas-Daye made a splash at the London Youth Games when they won silver and bronze medals.
The games are Europe’s largest youth sports festival with pupils competing in 30 different sports.
Maia won silver in the Senior Girls 50m Freestyle and a bronze in the Senior Girls Freestyle Relay Team along with team mates Kelly Bone, Sophie Whelan and Leah Thomas-Daye.
It was the first time in the game’s 40 year history that Merton Girls Swimming Team has won two medals in the same year.
Catherine Lewis, Merton Swimming Team Manager, said: ‘The senior swimming team did the borough proud with the strongest performances since I began managing the team eight years ago.
“I’m immensely proud of all the swimmers. Maia, who has swum in the Merton team for five years, excelled again, winning her second individual medal for Merton after winning a silver in 2015.
The overall results for the borough’s swimmers also saw a massive boost with the Girls Swimming Team finishing 12th overall and the boys finishing 17th out of 29 boroughs.
Join us at our next Child and Adolescent Mental Health Network Meeting.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) Network meetings have been established in Merton to help our children’s workforce form stronger networks around mental health, and develop knowledge and skills in addressing the emotional and mental health needs of children and young people.
The next meeting will be help on Wednesday 22 November and the topic is ‘Parental Mental Health’.
Invitations will be sent to all previous attendees, with details of the venue and times.
Anyone interested to attend for the first time can register their interest by emailing the lead officer email@example.com.
Ask About Asthma
Merton CCG and Merton Council supported the London-wide #AskAboutAsthma campaign to help ensure more consistent asthma care for children and young people across the capital. The campaign ran from 11–24 September 2017, during peak season for emergency asthma-related admissions to hospital.
Asthma is one of the top three causes of emergency admission to London hospitals. The UK has a higher rate of illness and death in children and young people because of asthma compared to other European countries. In London, more than 10 children die needlessly of the condition every year. #AskAboutAsthma aims to help improve this.
NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting the #AskAboutAsthma's campaign to ensure that all young people with asthma:
- have a written asthma treatment plan
- get the help they need to use their inhalers more effectively
- receive a regular review of their medication and care
These simple measures will help improve the quality of life for children and young people suffering from this long-term condition.
#AskAboutAsthma is led by Healthy London Partnership, a collaboration of all 32 London CCGs, including NHS Merton CCG, and NHS England (London region). As part of the campaign, NHS organisations across London, including hospitals, pharmacists, primary and community carers, are also committing to reducing air pollution, which is a major trigger of the condition.
Merton Public Health
Public Health is "the science and art of promoting and protecting health and well-being, preventing ill-health and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society." Merton Public Health works with partners to improve health and wellbeing in Merton and to reduce inequalities in health across the borough.
For more information about the current Merton Public Health campaigns and strategic plans, see the Merton webpages.
Health Matters website for community health
Merton Council commissions Central London Community Health (CLCH) to deliver community healthcare services in the borough. The CLCH digital platform 'Health Matters', supports the delivery of its school nursing and health visiting services for 0-19s in Merton.
The site houses details of baby clinics and school nursing locations and contacts for secondary and primary schools in all nine of the London boroughs where CLCH provides children's services via handy google maps, alongside trusted health advice.
Visitors to the site can also contact a CLCH school nurse or health visitor directly through the online 'Ask a Question' service and receive an answer to any health related question within 3 working days.
Health Matters is live at www.healthmatters.clch.nhs.uk
School holiday activities
Do 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
Listening to Merton's health service users
Healthwatch 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/
MSCB one of just five in the country to be rated by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’.
Merton Safeguarding Children’s Board (MSCB) was recently inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspector’s from Ofsted as part of the Single Inspection Framework, and graded as ‘Outstanding’; one of just five local children’s safeguarding boards in the country to achieve the highest performance rating. Report of the Ofsted Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017).
We are very pleased 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.
Inspectors found that:
“Merton’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) is outstanding. It is highly effective in holding agencies to account for their individual safeguarding arrangements in the welfare and protection of children. The strength and maturity of the board are reflected in the established strategic arrangements and the high level of engagement across the partnership and with other strategic boards.”
The report noted that:
“There is a shared vision to safeguard all Merton children and a sustained and unyielding commitment in driving forward MSCB priorities: Think Family, vulnerable adolescents and early help. The board’s priorities are the result of rigorous analysis of local need and reflect learning from SCRs, LiRs and national issues.”
Whilst the Board is very pleased with this outcome and celebrates what it means for the children and families in Merton and multi-agency practitioners, we are in no way complacent.
Yvette Stanley, the Director of Children, Schools and Families, Councillor Kate Neep, the Lead Member for Children and the Independent Chair of the MSCB note that:
“These judgements are the result of the tenacity, persistence and hard work of leaders and practitioners across the MSCB and Children’s Trust partnerships over many years.
On behalf of the council, the MSCB and the Children’s Trust we would like to thank you all for your contributions past, present and future to making children and young people safer and for your dedication to improving services and outcomes for children and families locally.”
Read the Report of the Ofsted Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017).
See also the following main article on Ofsted’s inspection:
Introducing Merton’s new CSE and Missing service
Catch22 has delivered a range of substance misuse, sexual health and detached interventions aimed at young people and families across Merton since 2010.
This year, the service successfully won the joint contract for delivering CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) support to children and young people under 18, and to engage children and young people who have been going missing. This contract sees the service integrate under the already widely established young people’s Risk & Resilience service, enabling the teams to work more closely together to share relevant information and skill sets to meet wider identified need, further reducing young people’s often reported experiences of ‘too many professionals’ being involved at one time.
To meet the needs of Merton’s young people, Catch22 provide:
- Independent Return Home Interviews (RHIs) for all young people up to 18 years of age referred (by Police or Children’s Services) who have been reported missing and returned home by the police, including looked after young people placed in neighbouring boroughs (within 1 hour travel distance from Merton service base).
- Targeted packages of one-to-one support for young people up to 18 years of age who are at high risk of going missing from home or care.
- Targeted one-to-one support to children and young people at medium/high risk of sexual exploitation (as referred via Merton children’s services).
To date, 55 individual young people have been engaged for an RHI and Merton’s young people are feeding back to us that they value the “non-judgmental” approach from practitioners and that they would not have made the necessary needed changes without Catch22’s input. The Missing service is already having a direct impact on reducing and preventing further missing incidents for young people through the tailored one-to-one work undertaken, which addresses key areas such as keeping safe, exploitation, anti-social behaviour and positive diversionary activities.
“I enjoyed the sessions and have learnt how to deal better with conflict and communicate with my family.” (16 year male recently referred to Catch 22 having been repeatedly reported as missing in Merton. No further missing incidents have occurred since our intervention)
To date, 23 young people have been engaged via one-to-one support and the tailored CSE interventions are seeing significant positive outcomes for Merton’s young people, who tell us:
“…been told a lot of things to keep me safe and my worker gives me good advice. She is different to other services. Can talk about drugs, sex and relationships and I feel at ease to discuss these. There is nothing I would change about my support.” (16 year old female).
The CSE work is undertaken based on the referral information received from children’s services, and remains a multi-agency response to meet need through regular liaison with the child’s social worker, being a regular part of the required 'strategy meetings', referring into local sexual health services, working with the parents and carers to strengthen their skills around CSE and linking in with the child’s educational setting to increase available support networks. The one-to-one work focuses on key areas such as:
- Sexual health
- Social media
- Healthy relationships
- Resilience building
The feedback from professionals working alongside the CSE/Missing team to date has been incredibly positive and continues to recognise the fantastic outcomes being achieved for vulnerable young people through the multi-skilled and dynamic approaches used by the team to engage them.
Catch22 is based at 21 Leyton Road (Colliers Wood), and the service wants to support as many young people in need as possible in the borough and are keen to hear from you if you want to either find out more, get involved, volunteer, may like to use the service or know of someone else in need.
Please contact Sarah Bell - Service Manager, Catch22: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ofsted rates Merton’s adoption service as ‘Outstanding’
Merton’s children's services has achieved one of the highest Ofsted inspection ratings making Merton one of the top performing children’s services in London and England. The inspectorate rated children’s services as ‘Good’ overall with some aspects, including the adoption service rated as ‘Outstanding’.
In the Report of the Ofsted Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017) Ofsted highlights the success of the service from early identification of children to be adopted to ‘excellent and highly creative’ post adoption support:
“Adoption performance is outstanding, with all children requiring adoption currently placed and no children waiting. Merton has not had an adoption placement breakdown for over five years.”
“Strategic leaders, managers and social workers have an excellent knowledge about the children in their care, and they are passionate about achieving the very best outcomes.”
“Timely and accurate early identification of children, when adoption is in their best interests, leads to appropriate and prompt family finding… Children benefit from early identification of potential matches with approved adopters, including before the granting of the placement order, and move swiftly to live with their new families following the court decision.”
“The quality of prospective adopter reports is impressive. Child permanence reports are comprehensive and analytical and lead to a logical recommendation for adoption.”
“Appropriate contact with birth families is supported, and children are assisted to understand their life histories at a time and pace that is suitable for them. Life story work is of a consistently high quality.”
“Adoption support is excellent and highly creative. It ensures that adopted children form strong attachments to their families, and potential issues are identified and addressed at the earliest stage.”
For more information about Merton’s adoption service see the webpages: www2.merton.gov.uk/adoption.
See also the following main article on Ofsted’s inspection:
Effective CAMHS support in Merton’s Children’s Social Care
Merton CAMHS in Social Care team provides an integrated mental health service within Merton’s children’s social care, working alongside social care professionals in the engagement and assessment of children and families, and the subsequent planning and delivery of interventions.
The service is committed to working as part of a multi-agency response to improve the quality of life for children and young people who have a wide range of presenting social, psychological and mental health needs. It provides effective, evidence-based interventions as part of the clinical and social response to meeting the emotional and mental health needs of these vulnerable children and young people. It also assists and supports social workers to implement new approaches to their work, and provides ‘reflective practice’ to social workers and their managers, as well as consultation and training.
We are very proud to announce that in its recent Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017) Ofsted highlights, in its judgement on ‘The experiences and progress of children looked after and achieving permanence’, that:
“A skilled and flexible in-house child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) team offers consultation and guidance to social workers and foster carers and direct work to children”.
For more information on the work of the team please contact the CAMHS Highly Specialist Systemic Family Therapist Georgia.Iliopoulou@merton.gov.uk
Merton supports unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people
Unaccompanied asylum seeking children are one of Merton’s most vulnerable groups in need of safeguarding and care, because they are children alone, who may have experienced considerable harm and exploitation, and are separated from their families, local communities, and cultures. Any child presenting as such in Merton must be referred to our Children’s Services where they will be assessed and cared for in exactly the same way as for children local to Merton who are assessed as Children in Need and become looked after under Section 20 criteria.
Our service for these children is committed to ensuring that every one of them has their unique and individual needs, aspirations, personalities, potential, and wishes taken into account in the placement, planning and reviewing processes. So, we are very proud to report that in its recent Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017) Ofsted highlights that:
“Merton’s service to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is impressive. It is sensitive and swift and enables the children to settle quickly and to form friendships.”
They also note the following:
“Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children receive an impressive service. The local authority ensures that it exercises its responsibilities without delay and with considerable sensitivity. Regular, informal coffee shop group meetings offer friendship and help to develop confidence and to reduce isolation. Whenever possible, the children are placed in family placements. Good connections with a local college enable the children to access courses to develop their English language skills, and links with solicitors reduce the stress of legal uncertainty”.
“Care leavers who arrive as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children receive very good support from the 14-plus team. Young people value highly the support and help that they receive from their foster carers and social workers. Young people settle quickly in foster care, attend school or college and develop well in their spoken English. Their health needs are assessed and met promptly. A monthly drop-in provides excellent opportunities for these young people to develop friendships with their peers, receive informal support and gain new experiences, such as taking part in outdoor activities and restaurant visits. Many make excellent progress in their studies and are highly ambitious for their future”.
For a copy of the full report please download: Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017)
See also the following main article on Ofsted’s inspection:
Ten London boroughs join forces to commission Pan London Family Drug and Alcohol Court Service (FDAC)
The London Borough of Merton is leading on the commissioning and procurement of a Family Drug and Alcohol Court Service (FDAC), on behalf of the London boroughs of Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark, Sutton, Wandsworth and Achieving For Children Community Interest Company (Royal Borough of Kingston and the London Borough of Richmond).
Working together with Croydon County Court, West London Family Court and the Inner London Family Court, the partnership will offer an alternative form of care proceedings for parents and children in those cases where substance misuse is a key factor in the decision to bring proceedings. This alternative is known as the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC).
Court proceedings take place as usual, but the judge meets outside of the hearings with the parents to encourage the parents to change. The judge, barristers and solicitors are trained in the model and in the use of motivational interviewing. The FDAC team works with the child’s parents by conducting a rapid assessment, and delivering evidence based interventions. The team comprises mental health specialists, child and family social workers, clinical nurse specialist, substance misuse workers, domestic violence specialist, child protection manager and parent mentors. The FDAC specialist team provides expert reports to the court, and liaises closely with the judge and with the local authority.
The FDAC model was originally set up by a judge at the Central Court in London and follows, with total fidelity, a model based in America. The results of the pilot service shows:
- Five years post proceedings, significantly more FDAC than comparison mothers, had remained abstinent (58% compared to 24%).
- Three years post proceedings, significantly fewer FDAC than comparison mothers had experienced disruption to reunification (51% compared to 22%)
- A lower proportion of FDAC than comparison children returned to court in the five years post proceedings (34% compared to 55%) and a higher proportion of FDAC children experienced no disruption after 3 years (57% compared to 39%).
- Fewer children permanently removed from their families.
- Fewer families returning to court with less substance misuse.
Referrals will be made by children’s social care and will be agreed internally to ensure referrals meet the criteria for FDAC services. The Pan London FDAC service will go live in January 2018.
In its recent Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017) Ofsted highlights the importance of being involved in the development of new approaches to family support:
“Senior managers are outward facing and regularly invite external peer reviews of their services. They are actively engaged with, or lead, regional groups and initiatives and are eager to learn about social work practice in other local authorities. This is exemplified in the leadership of the introduction of a Family Drug and Alcohol Court, and the active participation in an evolving social impact bond edge-of-care service, which will include multi-systemic and functional family therapies.
Local Authority Designated Officer - all you need to know
Children and young people in schools, attending community activities, faith meetings or receiving services have a right to be treated with care and respect by staff, volunteers, and faith and community leaders. Research and enquiries have shown that sometimes people in such positions of trust abuse children. It has also been shown that some professionals who work to support children may abuse or neglect children known to them in their private or family life (‘abuse by association’).
Merton's Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), has overall responsibility for the management of allegations of abuse by adults who work with Children. The LADO provides advice and guidance, liaises with the Police, Social Care Teams, Regulatory Bodies such as Ofsted and other organisations as needed and ensures a consistent, fair and thorough process for both child and adult. The key aspects of this role are:
- Chairing LADO Strategy Meetings
- Providing consultations
- Attending MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements)
When should agencies contact the LADO?
In respect of all cases in which it is alleged that an employee has:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
- Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she would pose a risk of harm if they work regularly or closely with children, is unsuitable to work with children.
All staff have a responsibility to report within 24 hours if they believe a member of staff is harming or using unacceptable behaviour towards a child. Information may come to light about behaviour outside of the workplace which could indicate a breach of acceptable professional conduct.
In investigating allegations, actions should be conducted in a way that recognises the vulnerability of staff and seeks to protect them as far as possible from mistaken or false allegations.
When the member of staff against whom allegations have been made or concerns have been raised, lives in a different local authority from where he/she works, the Local Authority in which the LADO will conduct the enquiries will be the one in which the alleged incident took place. It is good practice for the LADO to liaise and keep informed the LADO in the other identified authority.
The email address for LADO referrals is LADO@merton.gov.uk.cjsm.net.
Please telephone: 020 8545 3179.
How can an organisation find out more?
Merton’s Safeguarding Children Board has a webpage dedicated to the LADO service. This includes the referral form and procedure, and also some case examples: www.merton.gov.uk/lado.htm
What is a Child Protection Conference?
If a social worker or someone working with a family is worried that a child or young person is suffering or likely to suffer harm they might ask for a Child Protection Conference to be held.
A Child Protection Conference is a meeting chaired by someone who is independent from the family and from the people working with them. All the people who are important in a child or young person's life are invited to the meeting. This might include the child’s parents or carers, someone from their school and health professionals such as the school nurse.
All children and young people will be asked what they think is going well, what the worries are and what needs to change so they are not at risk. If a young person is 12 years or older they can go to the meeting too. If they are younger than this, an advocate will meet with the child before the meeting so they can tell everyone at the meeting the child or young person’s views. .
The Chair of the Child Protection Conference will try and make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible in the meeting even though some of what’s talked about might be difficult or upsetting. The Chair will be respectful and help everyone to speak and be heard. The most important voice in the meeting is that of the child or young person even if they can’t actually be at the meeting.
At the meeting the Chair will ask everyone what is working well in the child or young person's life, and they will also ask people what they are worried about. As the meeting comes to an end all of the professionals and the family will think about what plans they can put in place to make sure the child or young person is safe. The professionals will then make a decision, using all of the information from the meeting, about whether the plan should be a Child Protection Plan or a different plan. If it is decided that the child is not at risk and their family do still need help to manage the worries this will be done by a Child In Need Plan.
It can feel very scary and upsetting for families when the people working with them are concerned about their safety and well-being. To help children and families make sense of what is happening to them and how things can get better to keep a child safe at home, an adult that they trust will be named so that they have someone to talk to.
After the first Child Protection Conference other meetings will be held so that everyone, including the family, can check that the plan is working. When everyone can see that the child or young person is safe and well the Child Protection Plan can end and the family will be helped by a Child in Need Plan.
For more information on Merton's Children Protection Conference process contact email@example.com.
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'
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
Bow Lane Pre-School is 'Outstanding'!
Bow Lane Pre-School is a 'pack-away' setting situated in Lower Morden which cares for children age two to five years old. We opened in September 2010 and during this time the setting has gone from strength to strength. In July 2017 Ofsted visited and we were rated as ‘Outstanding.’
This outcome would not have been possible without the support from an extremely dedicated and hardworking team. With the continuous support of the owner Gaye Hooker, many practitioners have gone on to further develop their professional skills undertaking studies to gain their childcare level 2s and 3s as well as Early Years university degrees.
Practitioners new skills are then used to further support all children within the setting which was highlighted within the Ofsted report “They are supported in their learning by staff who are trained to levels of high expertise.” We also regularly support students from South Thames College by offering placement positions.
As a setting we also strive to build strong partnerships with our parents, this was noted in our Ofsted inspection “Parents are fully involved in children's learning. They say they are 'amazed at how much children learn'”.
We are also extremely lucky to have the support of two local primary schools (Hatfeild Primary School and St John Fisher Primary School) to both of which we offer wrap around care for nursery aged children; these strong partnerships ensure a smooth transition for those children who attend two settings.
A family fun picnic was held on a Saturday in September allowing all practitioners, children and families to celebrate this achievement together!
For more information on Bow Lane Pre-School visit: www.bowlanepre-school.co.uk
Volunteer Police Cadets support south London police event
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick (see left) came to Wimbledon recently, holding a briefing event for police officers and staff from across south London.
With hundreds of people expected to attend, organisers needed support to facilitate and assist those attending.
So, Merton Volunteer Police Cadets stepped up providing a team to welcome guests, help audience members be heard with microphones during debate and supporting Borough Commander Steve Wallace as the host senior officer. The team were personally thanked by the Commissioner and her senior team.
Cadet Serena (ex-Ursuline High School, on her final Cadet duty before going to University) said:
"Meeting the Commissioner today & hearing with colleagues about the future of the Met has been really interesting & I've learned a lot. I'll miss doing great events like this, but I will be coming back!".
To find out more about the Cadets, contact Tim firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.met.police.uk/cadets.
The National Trust, Benedict Primary School and Phipps Bridge Community Centre.
Christine Smith, head teacher at Benedict Primary School tells YMT about their involvement in a community project:
The National Trust approached the youth centre at Phipps Bridge to talk about a project to improve Morden Hall Park to make it more inviting to visitors.
Children from Year 5 at Benedict Primary School undertook a ranger walk with the National Trust in June to identify improvements that could be made and what kind of plants would enhance the environment. They took photos of ideas and framed them so that they could decide on the project that would have the greatest impact. They selected the entrance to Morden Hall Park at the Phipps Bridge Tram Stop.
During the summer holiday children from Benedict Primary School and the youth centre at Phipps Bridge joined together with the national Trust for four days see the designs and ideas come to fruition. They dug over the area at the entrance and planted some carefully chosen plants and shrubs. Over time we will see the white flowers and red berries of the Guelder Rose and Hawthorn and the fruit of the Blackthorn that you can use to make jam. Honeysuckle has been planted at the base of the signs so that over time this creates an aromatic arch with beautiful flowers that will attract the bees. The children dug the area, designed and planted the shrubs.
There will be a plaque placed to celebrate the partnership working between The National Trust, Benedict Primary School and the Phipps Bridge Community Centre.
For more information about Benedict Primary School see the website.
Educating Merton’s Looked After Children
Merton's Virtual School (VS) for Looked After Children (LAC) and Care Leavers, aims to ensure that there are high aspirations for all children and young people in public care.
The VS provides support and challenge to all those who work with LAC and Care Leavers in order to promote their educational achievement and to make sure they reach their potential. This includes children looked after by Merton wherever they access education, and those children looked after by other boroughs attending schools and educational settings in Merton. The service also supports young people to continue in education and training beyond age sixteen. There are currently 16 care leavers attending University.
We are very proud to announce that in its recent Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017) Ofsted highlights that:
“Children and young people receive good support from the virtual school wherever they live. Staff maintain good oversight of the progress of children looked after. They know the circumstances of individual children and use this information very effectively to work with others, such as social workers, carers and schools, to plan the support that children need to make progress in their learning. The large majority of children looked after (96%) go to a school judged good or better by Ofsted. When they do not, staff carefully consider whether the setting is meeting the individual needs of children”.
For more information on the work of Merton’s Virtual School contact the head teacher: Kathy.email@example.com.
St. Mark’s SEN and Disabilities team is a beacon of good practice.
At St Marks all teachers are teachers of SEN, who work to support the additional needs of their students by implementing intervention strategies, which they review on a half-termly basis. It is all too easy to lump students with SEN or Disabilities (SEND) together as a homogenous group, however at St Mark’s we pay careful attention to specific and individual needs.
Due to previous results, the senior leadership team, led by the Principal, Lisa Peterkin, identified that SEND students were a group that previously had underperformed and that change was necessary to ensure ALL students could achieve their true potential. Regular staff continuing professional development training was implemented to ensure cultural change and to fully equip staff with the tools they needed to succeed.
The SEND team work with all stakeholders, including parents, local authority commissioned services including 'speech and language' and most of all each young person. One of the academy’s most successful strategies is ensuring that SEN students have a say in the information that is shared about them, through the use of one page profiles. ‘I love one page profiles as I get to find out what support students find most useful and because it is written from their perspective, I really feel like they are speaking directly to me.’ Year 9 teacher.
Our creative projects, also help to build the confidence and resilience of each student, as they learn to become self-managers. A group of year 8 SEND students worked on a project with a local primary school, where they helped younger children create story books. ‘It was great to see our students beaming with pride at the work they produced, especially as they were able help in a primary school.’ H Scott Learning Support Assistant.
This year, our SEN students have achieved outstanding outcomes at Key Stage 5, with an average progress score of 0.46. (That’s half a grade above average). And, students with statements have achieved a progress score of 2.46! (2 and a half grades better than average).
See left - A screen shot from St Mark's twitter feed that shows St. Mark’s being praised by Davis Bartram OBE at the London Assembly for their great work with SEND students.
Trans-inclusive education conference
Merton is hosting a conference on 'Trans inclusion in education':
This will be held at the Chaucer Centre, Morden SM4 6PX on 14 November.
The conference is an opportunity for senior leaders in primary, secondary schools and colleges to hear from students, and to discuss issues and related advice and guidance on trans-inclusive policy and practice. Delegates will also be able to review the draft guidance for schools regarding trans-inclusive education
Sarah Rose from Stonewall will be taking part, along with students from local schools.
To book a place please log on to www.mertoncpd.co.uk/cpd
For further information, please contact Ann Long 0n 020 85454064 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please download the information flyer.
Cricket Green School - an update
Rachel Vickers from Cricket Green Primary School gives YMT an update in the activities of their school council:
The new school year has started positively with our CGS school council meeting to discuss future ideas and assign task responsibilities. Some of these forth coming events include two whole school storytelling days, volunteering and a strong emphasis this year on online safety.
During the Storytelling days, our learners will utilise stories as a powerful tool to understand more about the world around them. With each story, we hope to incorporate all aspects of our Creative Curriculum whilst encouraging them to be curious, imaginative and problem solving learners.
Pupil council members would like to increase the amount of help they give within the school. This year they would like to continue to support the voluntary work of local food banks to help those in need of support.
The Pupil Council also discussed why it is important for young people to stay safe ‘on line’. Pupils suggested a code of conduct to help them stay safe online at school which they collaborated on with our designated safeguard lead. They also suggested nominating a pupil council representative with responsibility for online safety.
A fab start back and great expectancy for future events!
For more information on Cricket Green School see the website.
All Together United Against Bullying
The Anti-Bullying Alliance is delighted to announce that it is working with Merton Council until October 2018 to become an All Together Area and work to reduce bullying of children in schools. As part of this we are offering FREE training to schools and the wider children’s workforce in Merton.
The All Together programme has been developed over the last three years and builds upon the work of the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s previous SEND anti-bullying champion programme which saw significant positive results.
The programme includes a special focus on reducing bullying of disabled children and those with SEN but aims to reduce bullying of all children and young people.
The programme is funded by the Department for Education and delivered by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, with support from the Council for Disabled Children, Contact a Family and Achievement for All.
For information about the local training please download: All Together United Against Bullying - Free Anti-bullying training for the children's workforce in Merton.
Merton school wins British Council International School Award
Malmesbury Primary School has been awarded the British Council’s prestigious International School Award in recognition of its work to bring the world into the classroom.
The International School Award celebrates the achievements of schools that do exceptional work in international education. Fostering an international dimension in the curriculum is at the heart of the British Council’s work with schools, so that young people gain the cultural understanding and skills they need for life work in today’s world.
Malmesbury Primary School’s international work includes half termly correspondence with our partner school in the South of France, incorporating a Skype session at the end of the year; topic-centred study of literature from all over the world, through the Power of Reading Scheme; discovering music and art from different cultures and sending out paper dolls to friends all over the world and finding out where they have been. We also continue our link with our partner school in Ghana and have begun a new partnership with an international school in Shanghai.
Sir Ciarán Devane, CEO of the British Council, said:
‘The school’s fantastic international work has rightfully earned it this prestigious award. The International School Award is a great chance for schools to demonstrate the important work they’re doing to bring the world into their classrooms. Embedding an international dimension in children’s education ensures that they are truly global citizens and helps prepare them for successful lives and careers in an increasingly global economy.’
The award is now available worldwide in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Pakistan. Around 5,500 International School Awards have been presented to successful schools in the UK since the scheme began in 1999.
The International School Award encourages and supports schools to develop:
- An international ethos embedded throughout the school
- A whole school approach to international work
- Collaborative curriculum-based work with a number of partner schools
- Year-round international activity
- Involvement of the wider community
British Council Schools Online is a supportive ‘one stop shop’ to help schools find international opportunities and teaching resources, including details about the British Council International School Award. Any school can find out how to apply by visiting http://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org
For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org/.
Acacia Adventure Playground
The Acacia Adventure Playground (APG) is on Acacia Road, Mitcham Eastfields.
We provide an open access play service for children and young people aged 5 – 16 years old. The APG has a Sensory Room which offers various equipment, such as bubble tubes, fibre optic lights, voice changer, DVD projector, disco ball and comfy cushions to stimulate young children’s senses.
All children and young people must be registered.
Call 0208 274 5130 or 07960 618 470 for a form, or come along to the playground during opening hours to fill one out.
For more information please download the Acacia Adventure Playground leaflet.
Merton Youth Parliament: preparing for the ‘Police Think Tank’.
Over the summer the Merton Youth Parliament (MYP) ran a Mitcham Area Youth Forum at Pollard’s Hill Youth Centre, which was well attended by young people. During the discussions at the meeting, young people agreed that they would like to work to build a better relationship with the Police, increasing understanding and respect on both sides.
As a result of the forum, the MYP, supported by Merton’s Participation Worker, has organised a ‘Police Think Tank’ to take place at South Thames College on Monday 16th October 5-7pm. (is this the right date and time?).
The event for young people will include discussions on the issues raised by the Area Forum, presentations from Merton’s Gangs Workers, and a Q&A session with representatives from the Police. It is hoped that the event will begin to facilitate better understanding of the issues from both sides, and identify any further work to be done.
If you would like to attend the ‘Police Think Tank’ with young people that you work with then please contact Sarah Safo, Participation Worker via email: email@example.com.
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. The MYP run Area Youth Forums based in Colliers Wood and Wimbledon; Morden; Mitcham; and Raynes Park, and offer a platform for young people in their local communities to come along and have a say or highlight issues affecting them.
For more information about the work of the Merton Youth Parliament download a copy of the Merton Youth Parliament Manifesto 2017-18. The manifesto was informed by feedback from the Young Residents’ Survey, and a consultation conducted with 60 young people at Mitcham carnival 2017.
Merton’s Young People’s Risk & Resilience service
Catch22 has worked in the borough since 2010 delivering drug and alcohol services to young people and their families, with the contract successfully retendered and expanded to include detached youth work and sexual health provision for young people.
This development builds on the positive partnership that Catch22 has with Merton and focussed commitment the organisation has in continuing to support the young people of this borough.
‘I am happy with the support I get and that I am listened to. I am also glad to receive help from my worker to work with CAMHS. There is nothing I would change about my support from Catch22 so far” (service user aged 17).
The aim of the service is to increase young people’s engagement in diversionary activities to reduce substance misuse, promote good sexual health and positive choices. As part of supporting early identification of risky behaviour and building resilience in young people across the borough, the targeted work is across the following areas: substance misuse, detached youth work, sexual health, CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) and Missing young people.
Catch22’s Risk & Resilience service offers innovative service delivery to those that need it most, aged between 13 and 24, in locations they socialise, their educational setting or at the Catch22 premises.
Catch22 has continued to ensure positive outcomes are achieved for all young people referred, with last year the service achieving:
- 97% of young people involved in the Youth Justice System being screened for substance misuse
- 94% of young people completed treatment in an agreed and planned way
- 228 professionals trained in substance misuse and sexual health
- 583 brief alcohol interventions undertake with young people and adults
Referrals for support can be either self-referrals or through professionals working with a young person who have concerns via: https://www.catch-22.org.uk/services/merton-young-peoples-risk-and-resilience/
Catch22 also offers support to Merton’s young people via the Detached Team service, delivering initiatives like events and education sessions across Merton, some of which are fixed sessions:
- Merton Campus drop-in Tuesdays & Thursdays - PM (weekly rotation)
- SPEAR – young persons homeless housing project – monthly drop in/group work service (last Tuesday of each month – 7-8pm)
- Wimbledon College of Arts University – monthly drop-in session (first Friday of each month – PM)
- Mitcham library – drop in/targeted workshops/activities – Mondays 3.30 – 6pm
- Supporting FFC Lavender football Wednesday & Friday evenings – 6.30 -8.30pm
- 6 week summer-term programme – workshop/DJ and sports mini projects at several borough-based locations
Our Da Edge Bus…
…provides advice, information and brief interventions (substance misuse, C-Card) as well as diversionary initiatives and accredited training courses as part of supporting young people up to 25 into employment and training, alongside addressing anti-social behaviour issues. The detached work has seen fantastic positive outcomes for young people, where we engaged 525 in last year’s planned sessions.
Catch22 wants to support as many young people in need as possible in the borough and are keen to hear from you if you want to find out more, get involved, volunteer, may like to use the service or know someone else in need.
Please contact Sarah Bell, Service Manager, Catch22, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
St Mark’s Student Council – helping the whole community to make healthy choices
St Mark's Academy gives YMT an update in the work of their student council:
Our student council did an impressive job working with health experts in the ‘great weight debate’ which was held at St. Mark’s in the summer. The key purpose was to prepare for the Great Weight Debate’ that was held at the Academy run by Merton Council, looking at how young people and the whole community can get access to healthy options both in regards to food, wellbeing, sports and exercise. Their voice would have a direct impact on the event, as they were representing the young stakeholders in the community.
Students had to be very honest and talk about their own options when it came to eating, and what would help them to make healthier, more informed choices. Students also debated how money could be spent in the borough in regards to sports, healthy facilities. They were asked the question of how they keep fit and healthy, and what would they like to see in the borough. Many enjoy skate parks, and trampolining – so we will see if anything happens in those areas because of their input.
The students were also shown exactly how many takeaways there are in Mitcham, and every student had to plot their journey to and from school to highlight just how many establishments they have to avoid just to get home each evening! They then went into a further deeper discussion about the ethics behind takeaways, and should they even be allowed to run so near to the school.
“I really enjoyed being part of this today. It’s made me think about what I eat and if I can be healthier. I would like to think that because of my input today I will be able to make kids in Mitcham healthier. I think there should be a limit on how many takeaways are allowed to open around schools. They make it too tempting when the food is so cheap.” Jamie year 8 student.
For more information on St Mark's Academy see the webpages.
Merton Cadets supporting 2017 Ride London!
On Sunday 31 July, Merton Volunteer Police Cadets proudly supported the 2017 Prudential Ride London, as it passed through Wimbledon.
Our Cadets (teenagers from local schools including St Marks Academy, Wimbledon High School for Girls, Rutlish and Raynes Park High School) worked a long day alongside volunteer colleagues on crossing points, looking after spectators and cheering on cyclists and teams.
Cadet Jessica said "It's been really exciting not just watching such an amazing event like this, but also being part of the team making it work!".
Cadet Coordinator PC Tim Mann said "I'd like to thank all our young people for their hard work today and my brilliant Adult leaders who make this all possible."
To find out more about Cadets, email Tim email@example.com or visit www.met.police.uk/cadets.
Children’s services inspection report summary for children and young people
Ofsted’s recent Report of the Ofsted Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017) includes a outcomes summary for children and young people.
Ofsted graded Merton’s children’s services as ‘Good’ overall, and the Merton Safeguarding Children Board as ‘Outstanding’. Other aspects which were judged ‘Outstanding’ were leadership and management, and adoption performance. The remaining aspects were all judged as ‘Good’: Children who need help and protection; Children looked after and achieving permanence; and Experience and progress of care leavers.
In the report the inspectors included the following summary of inspection findings for children and young people:
- All staff, including senior managers, know children well and work well together to consider how to help each child and their family.
- Although services for children and young people are already good, staff continue to question how they do things and are keen to do even better. They regularly look carefully at what they have done to see what they can learn.
- Planning for children is mostly done well, but in a few cases the plans are not clear enough about what needs to change for children and what families need to do to make children safer.
- Staff work hard to keep children safe in Merton. Any risks or concerns are taken very seriously and acted on quickly. They do this by working closely with other people, such as the police.
- Some children have had a number of different social workers, but managers keep a close eye on what is happening for children, to minimise the impact of changes.
- Children who are looked after by Merton are involved in the planning for their care. They are listened to and they influence planning for the future.
- Children and families who arrive from different countries receive an exceptional service and are supported sensitively to ensure that they feel secure. This includes meeting with other children in similar circumstances so that they do not feel alone.
- Children who are not able to live with their families live in safe and secure homes. Social workers ensure that children who are placed at some distance from Merton do not miss out on things that will be of interest or help to them.
- Care leavers are supported to do well and they feel safe where they live. Only a small number of young people continue to live with their foster carers after their 18th birthday. The local authority is taking action to ensure that more young people can stay with their foster carers if they wish to.
For a copy of the full report see: Report of the Ofsted Inspection of Merton Council children’s services, (August 2017)
See also the following main article on Ofsted’s inspection:
Empowering families to transform their 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 and has been delivering services since 2012.
To ensure that the services meets the needs of families the Transforming Families Team facilitates quarterly forums for parents and children, to give feedback on their views of the service.
If parents are unable to attend forums a manager will conduct a feedback session via telephone or visit, to ensure that their views are also heard.
Feedback from parents and children during quarter one of 2017 was very positive, and highlights how the team puts the families’ voice at the centre of practice:
TF supports families to have a voice in multi-agency meetings: A number of parents commented that the TF practitioner ‘raised their confidence’ and supported them to have a voice in multi-agency meetings which can feel ‘uncomfortable for families at times’. Parents highlight that having a voice is key to the process, as they do not always agree with the social work plans, and this needs to be heard.
Practitioners capture the voice of the child: One parent fed back that their practitioner had captured the voice of their child by engaging them creatively, using a book on a subject that the child is interested in; this promoted conversation and led to meaningful work.
The ‘Helping Families’ approach puts the families views at the centre of practice: Families were able to give clear examples of the benefits of the ‘Helping Families Programme’ approach, which they feel is based on their ideas about issues and goals. They appreciate the visual element of the approach and the opportunity to take some of the worksheets away and complete them in their own time.
TF workers are consistent and keep regular contact with the family: A number of families identified that the high frequency of feedback to them about the process is ‘why the team works’, and the fact that in the main, their allocated practitioner is the same throughout the intervention.
For more information on Merton’s TF programme contact the manager on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kids First Forum for parents of children with SEN or disabilities
Kids First is Merton’s Forum for Parents and Carers of Children and Young People with Disabilities or Special Needs from birth up to age 25, who live in Merton or attend a Merton school or college. Membership is free and we currently have over 540 members. We are a project of Merton Mencap.
Joining Kids First gives members the opportunity to:
- Meet other parents and carers in the same situation to share ideas and information and support each other
- Meet people who run local services and tell them what you think
- Attend free workshops on topics such as behaviour management and SEN updates
- Receive useful information by email and a regular newsletter
- Have a voice on local issues
Join the steering group and represent members on Merton’s Boards and Forums which design new services or review existing provision
We support all disabilities and special needs, including mild to severe learning disability, autistic spectrum disorder, physical and sensory impairment, and other complex medical needs.
To join, just complete a simple registration form which can be downloaded from the Merton Mencap website here http://www.mertonmencap.org.uk/kidsfirst.htm or contact the Kids First Administrator, Tracy Blackwell, on 020 8687 4644, or email email@example.com
Free Kids First Autumn Term Events for 2017
-Learn how to give First Aid, with Lucy Kiddle, First Aid Trainer: Friday 29 September, 9.30am to 12.30pm, Chaucer Centre, Room M, Canterbury Road, Morden, SM4 6PX.
A First Aid session covering CPR, Recovery Position, Choking, Bleeding and Burns. Please note this is not a certificated course.
PRIOR BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL FOR THIS SESSION AS THERE ARE ONLY 15 PLACES AVAILABLE!
First come, first served!
-SEN update with Karla Finikin, Merton’s Head of SEN & Disability (SENDIS): Thursday 12 October, 10am to 12pm, Chaucer Centre, Room B, Canterbury Road, Morden, SM4 6PX.
An opportunity to discuss SEN issues. Topic to be arranged. Come along & ask your questions.
Only 30 places available!
-Anger management, & techniques for managing anxiety and stress with Janey Bell, Professional Trainer in Neuro-Linquistic Programming: Friday 10 November, 10am to 2pm (lunch included), Chaucer Centre, Room B, Canterbury Road, Morden, SM4 6PX
Learn anger management & practical coping skills for dealing with anxiety & stress which can affect a person psychologically & physically.
This practical workshop explores different strategies & techniques that you can use at home on yourself, or with your son or daughter.
Only 30 places available!
- Staying safe online with Mark Brown, Special Needs Advisor, Special Help 4 Special Needs: Thursday 23 November, 10am-12pm, Chaucer Centre, Room M, Canterbury Road, Morden, SM4 6PX
Many children & young people with SEN can spend hour’s online using chat rooms, social media & other sites of interest. Sometimes this is the only social outlet they have. Mark will explain some of the hazards & will offer tips on what you can do to minimize risk, & keep your children safe online.
Only 25 places available!
-Sensory Integration and OT Techniques with Sheena Rufus, Merton Children & Young People’s Occupational Therapy, Central London Community Healthcare: Monday 4 December, 10am to 2pm (lunch included), Chaucer Centre, Room B, Canterbury Road, Morden, SM4 6PX
A practical session on sensory integration & occupational therapy techniques you can use at home with your child.
Find out what the OT service provides, plus information on referrals, waiting lists, assessments & OT in schools.
Only 30 places available!
A word from our children in care council
Merton’s Children in Care Council (CiCC) continues to represent Looked After Children (LAC) and Care Leavers, to ensure that they are involved in the decision making processes related to the services which they receive from the local authority.
In the July meeting members of the CiCC had a discussion with one of the Ofsted inspectors as part of the children’s services inspection during June. Overall, the Ofsted inspectors, in their report found that:
‘[In Merton] Children’s participation is encouraged, their individual needs are known and their voice is evident. Children have access to advocates wherever they are placed, and participation in reviews continues to strengthen. A committed and active Children in Care Council (CiCC) influences service developments and provides consultation and feedback on issues relating to their experiences’.
Also at the July meeting the lead officer highlighted a number of upcoming events that members of the group volunteered to attend. These included: London wide Children in Care Council; Young Londoners Forum at City Hall to discuss experiences of growing up ‘undocumented’ in London; and the Launch of the ‘From care to where?’ report by Centrepoint.
In addition the group decided that the next meeting should include feedback from Katy Neep, Merton Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, on what has been done since her last visit in April, and also an information session from housing.
For more information on the work of the CiCC please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jigsaw 4u - AGM 2017
Jigsaw 4u invites you to their AGM 2017:
Come along to the Jigsaw 4u AGM 2017 - Meet staff, trustees, volunteers and supporters, and find out how we are celebrating our 20th Anniversary. Also hear about the success of last year, and listen to children and young people’s stories.
- Date: Wednesday 18th October 2017
- Time: 4pm-5.30pm
- Venue: Madeira House, Cannons Leisure Centre, Madeira Rd, Mitcham, CR4 4HD
Parking available at the Cannons Leisure Centre or The Toby Carvery Car Park.
Join us for Afternoon Tea!
LGBT Youth Club
The LGBT Youth Club is based at the Endeavour Club in Morden. It is aimed at 13-19 year-olds, is the first of its kind in the borough offering a safe space for young people to meet and, if necessary, seek advice and support.
Since the summer holiday the club is back every other week starting from Thursday 21st September, at the usual venue from 7-9pm. The club is FREE FOR ALL and young people are welcome to bring friends as well for free.
This year please celebrate Halloween with us with a FREE movie and pizza night! This will be on:
Thursday 19 October at the youth club (7-9pm).
Of course there’ll be popcorn too!!!!!!
Try to let us know in advance if you’re coming and if you have any special dietary requirements, but of course we welcome walk-ins too!
Friends are welcome too!!!!
Merton's Children's Centres supporting children and families
Merton’s Children’s Centres Service launched its new series of programmes to support parents and their children in the Early Years this summer.
Programmes include the Early Learning Together and Incredible Years series. These provide support for parents across the age range and different levels of need to understand child development and how they can support their child. Other programmes include those to support children with communication delay or SEN and their families.
For full details of centres, programmes and the current timetable, visit the Family Services Directory
Programmes run across Merton’s centres and referrals are welcome from all practitioners and professionals. A referral form can be downloaded at www.merton.gov.uk/childrenscentres
St. Mark’s leads the way with student leadership opportunities
St. Mark's Academy gives YMT an update on their common good project:
St. Mark’s has been collaborating with Merton Citizen’s to enable our young people to create their own common good project. The group of students from year 8 first worked with Peter Brierley from Merton Citizen’s to help empower them and realises that their collective voice was a force for good, and together they could achieve great things. Their first task saw them collating a listening project, where the questioned every student in the Academy to see what their main worries and concerns were. They discovered that personal safety in the community, and mental health for everyone were the most common concerns.
After they gathered their findings, they presented to Lisa Peterkin our Principal and the rest of SLT. Their eloquent, passionate and well planned presentation meant that they got full support for their project contusing, and assurance that the newly appointed Chaplain will now continue to work with them to now make some of their suggestions to be realised.
They undertook a community walk together where they walked around the local community to see what areas could be safer, better lit and better taken care of. They then presented this in a whole school assembly to highlight their findings and actions going forward.
The girls then spoke at the Merton Citizen’s listening campaign launch at the Holy Trinity Church SW19. The congregation were again flawed by the professionalism of the young people and said their speech was ‘inspirational.’
The girls continue to meet every Monday after school giving up their own time to continue their work for others. They will be presenting again at the SLT meetings to show their plan for the upcoming year and how they would like to be supported to ensure they can really make a difference.
For more information on St Mark's Academy see the website.
Ricard's Lodge exam success and more
Ricard's Lodge gives YMT an update on exam successes and a trek to Peru:
At Ricards Lodge we are celebrating our best ever examination results at Key Stage Four in the same year that students were taking the reformed GCSE course in English Language, Literature and mathematics. In these courses 78% of the students achieved a grade 4 and above in both English and mathematics with 74% achieving the equivalent of the old measure of 5 or more GCSE's at A*-C. Additionally we are so delighted that 33% of all grades were at A/A* or the equivalent and that 24 of our students gained 10 or more A/A* or equivalent.
In RR6 we are again celebrating our best results in those top grades with 31% of the grades for the female students at A/A* or equivalent with all other measures being above the national average. RR6 students have now gone on to a wide range of Universities up and down the UK including: Homerton College, Cambridge; Birmingham, Queen Mary University of London; Exeter and beyond. A number are having a gap year with others taking up apprenticeships in a range of fields.
The summer was also a busy time for a group of students who spent a month with Camps International trekking and working in Peru. The group visited a number of key places including Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in Peru, the Colca Valley, Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Arequipa; as well as reaching the stunning 15th century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu at 2,430 metres above sea level. They worked hard in a number of local community and environmental projects.
Katie; “There was a great sense of achievement when reaching Machu Picchu. A highlight of project work was definitely designing and painting a mural for the Kindergarten at Camp Colca.”
Mia; “Going to Peru and being privileged enough to assist the lives of a range of communities is something I would say is a once in a lifetime opportunity and if I could do it again, I'd do it in a heartbeat! Seeing the glee on the faces of those I had helped is something I will treasure as an extraordinary experience!"
Ellie; “The trip was amazing! It was incredible seeing the culture and way of life for the communities in Peru. The project work we did was so much fun and will benefit the local people so much.”
For more information about Ricard's Lodge High School see the website.
Ursuline High School Delighted with 82% 5 A*-C at GCSE
Congratulations to all our students on their GCSE results. 82% of students have achieved 5 A*- C including 9-4 in English and Maths. In a time of uncertainty with new GCSEs in English and Maths the students have achieved excellent results.
We are delighted with the the numbers of students attaining the new top level 9 in English Language, Literature and Mathematics. The results show the high standards and expectations the school has for all its students.
Ms Waters the Headteacher explained 'With the increased pressure form the new GCSEs students have shown sustained commitment and diligence. Staff have worked very hard to ensure students are supported with the new courses to achieve their very best. Well done to all our students we are very proud of you!'
Ursuline High School Celebrates 35% A*/A at A' Level
Ursuline has sustained it’s strong A-Level results again this year, with 35% of students attaining A*/A equivalent. Highest achieving students gained places at Cambridge for Natural Sciences, Veterinary Science at Bristol and Medicine at Birmingham. Students are looking forward to starting a huge range of courses including Engineering, Economics, Midwifery, Modern Foreign Languages and International Relations.
Ursuline High School’s Headteacher, Ms Julia Waters was delighted to share in the good news with Ursuline students who have achieved their goals and who received their A Level results on 17th August 2017. Ms Waters said: “Congratulations to all students of their successes. We are very proud of them!”
Volunteer Police Cadets Summer Camp in Wales!
"This August, 45 Volunteer Police Cadets from Merton, Brent and Wandsworth joined forces for the summer camp of a lifetime in North Wales.
The team stayed near Llanberis in Snowdonia for a week of coasteering, gorge walking, canoeing, climbing Mount Snowdon and going down a mine.
As well as pushing themselves physically through all activities, our young people also learnt about positively facing challenges, believing in themselves and working together as a team.
16 yr old Cadet Drilon said "This has been an amazing week and I've met so many great people".
16 yr old Cadet Savannah said "We've all pulled together and helped eachother through everything we've faced. This is what it's all about!".
Cadet Coordinator PC Tim Mann said "I am so proud of all the Cadets and our volunteer leaders on this course. The team self-funded this experience and have really pushed their boundaries, far outside their comfort zones. Well done!".
To find out more about the Volunteer Police Cadets, email Tim: email@example.com or visit www.met.police.uk/cadets."
Wimbledon College exam success
Wimbledon College are proud to report that 81% of their pupils secured a Grade 4 and above in both English and maths, in this year's GCSE exams.
Also, in A' Levels pupils achieved a 99.3% pass rate, with 75% of all examination results graded A*-C and over 20% graded A*/A.
Please read the full articles on the Wimbledon College news page of their website.
Merton's Family Services Directory and SEN Local Offer
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Activities for Merton's young people
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.