A year of work in progress – day 128

Day 128 – 22 July 2014

Things are noticeably quieter on the roads though it seems to be a great opportunity to dig them up. The road north to Morpeth isn’t great and the roads around Thinford have gone to pot. Every season has its advantages and disadvantages.

This morning I visited The Work Place in Newton Aycliffe, a first class conferencing centre offering all year round purpose built conference and events facilities, according to their promotional material. I met up with Linda, my latest tier 4 manager.

On the way down I stopped off at Asda to buy a couple of gifts for our latest arrivals. Since I started at Durham there have been forty two babies born to members of the team and these are occasions worth marking. If we can we show pictures of their chubby cheeks and rosebud lips at the presentations yet I must confess that they all look the same to me at this stage. For interest the last five have been girls and the balance between the genders is slightly in favour of the females.

Linda is the Strategic Manager, Progression and Learning and is part of the Children’s and Adults Service. Her role is in helping young people to be prepared for the world of work. Her team are measured on a whole range of indicators driven by the Department for Education, which she acknowledged were important but onerous. They have a responsibility to track what every young person is doing with their education, particularly in the sixteen to eighteen age group and she has seven tracking assistants just to perform this task.

Learning and skills has a very strong economic and social emphasis and it was a great opportunity to speak to Linda about getting more young women into technical roles and the work of Dynamo. We also talked about University technical Colleges and she gave me some useful background especially around pupil numbers and available school places.

She is committed to the power of learning and went on to tell me a story about how she was inspired by someone with bi-polar disorder who started on one of the community learning programmes and now has a level three training certificate. Her children have also gone on to get jobs on the back of her experience. Learning is everything.

Back at County Hall we had another Office Accommodation Programme group meeting. I brought a paper on all of the ICT things that we need to be more agile on the basis that we already have most of them in place. Everyone agreed to add to the list if they could but this seems to be gaining some stickiness.

Over lunch we had our Extended Management Team where Carol gave us an update on our children’s homes. A lot of what she covered I’d heard from Linda already this morning and so I’m becoming quite an expert.

Learning points for today: 20% of 18 year olds in County Durham are not in education; every year we have around 2,000 young people in work experience; there are ten reasons (apparently) not to do something; the comptometer was the first commercially successful key-driven mechanical calculator and we have one at County Hall (I don’t think it’s still in use) and; professionals can ruin a market.

Today’s enjoyment rating 9/10 – everything feels better in the sunshine.

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