Welcome to Young Merton Together – Director of Merton Children’s Services Rachael Wardell
Welcome to the Autumn edition of Young Merton Together. I am now embarking on my fifth month of being Merton’s Director of Children’s Services and I really don’t think that I can claim to be ‘new’ anymore. The focus is now most definitely on business as usual and less on induction. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to orientate myself into the borough by talking with and listening to staff across the partnership, including in schools and children’s centres, and with a number of children, young people and families. I have now established a weekly 'Director's Drop In' so I can keep meeting and listening to you.
This edition of the newsletter includes many examples of the quality of our ‘Universal’ offer for the Merton community including continued success in school Ofsted inspections, continued improvements in educational outcomes at GCSE - GCSE Students across Merton celebrate results, and at A’ Level - Merton students celebrate A’ Level success. And a number of examples of extra curricular sports, arts, music and cultural activities on offer by schools, libraries and others. We also have information on health and development reviews for all 2 year olds.
It is this focus on improvements in services for all, and closing gaps in outcomes, that puts us in the best position to support the majority of families who need help, at the prevention and early help level of our well-being model - Prevention and early help services across the borough.
This edition of the newsletter includes an update from our Cabinet Members for Education – Cllr Cooper-Marbiah, and for Children’s Services – Cllr Kelly Braund, setting out their priorities for children and families including closing the gap in outcomes, and the importance of listening to our users to shape how we plan services.
On the theme of ‘user voice’ articles include an overview of our Children and Families’ Voice Framework end of year review – Children’s services shaped by users; update on the work of the Participation and Engagement Service; Reviewing user participation in children’s social care; Listening to our children in care; and Feedback from Merton’s foster carers.
On the theme of children’s safeguarding we have an update from the chair of Merton’s Safeguarding Children Board on the board’s annual report; our approach to ensuring the quality of multi-agency practice; Gangs awareness workshops in schools; Peer support network for adopters; and a heads up on activities taking place for Hate Crime Awareness Week.
As you know, we all work hard to continuously monitor, review and improve the impact of the services and support that we deliver, and we are subject to a number of upcoming inspections. This edition gives an update on: Continuously improving Merton’s Youth Justice Service, and preparations for inspection of the service by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP). Also an overview of progress on reforms to arrangements for supporting children and families with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and the upcoming Ofsted and CQC inspection.
It only remains for me to thank you all for the very evident passion and commitment that I observe in the way that you and your teams work to improve the lives of Merton’s families. I look forward to meeting many more of you over the coming months.