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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: