Less an actual diary this week, more a description of what I do in a typical Monday-Sunday to give some context to later posts. This one however saw me meeting the Secretary of State for Education and attending the opening of new New Street Station, two things that are fairly atypical….
Mondays for me are always dominated by a Quartet meeting of some sort. Contrary to it’s name, it neither consists of four people nor features any music, instead being a top team meeting focussed alternately on safeguarding or education. The core attendees are myself, Albert Bore (Council Leader), Mark Rogers (Council CEX) and Peter Hay (Strategic Director of the People Directorate). Others in attendance vary according to topic; Safeguarding Quartet is a purely internal meeting, whereas Education features Sir Mike Tomilinson, our Education Commissioner. We check up on progress against plans in the relevant area, and take a look at any particular issues of interest.
This is followed by a weekly Cabinet Members catch up meeting, where we all exchange notes on the week that was and the one ahead. Monthly I chair the Children’s Improvement Programme Board, which takes a more in-depth look at safeguarding progress. The evening was taken up with another monthly fixture, a Labour Group meeting, where we discuss the Council meeting that will happen the next day. This finishes at 8.30pm.
Tuesday, an Executive Management Team Meeting (EMT), where Cabinet and senior officers come together to discuss strategic issues. We do this thrice a month, the remaining week given over to a formal Cabinet. Then followed the monthly Council meeting, a succession of question sessions, Overview and Scrutiny reports and motions. After a 7pm finish follows a debrief in a pub.
Wednesday, up early to London to meet Ms Nicky Morgan (as you do) to discuss progress on our education plan. No concerns were raised other than the sustainability of leadership arrangements; we are looking to twin track a permanent appointee with the current interim, Colin Diamond. Rush back to Birmingham to appear at the Education and Vulnerable Children Overview and Scrutiny Committee, another monthly event at which councillors from all parties meet to, predictably, scrutinise and take an overview of work in my portfolio. I was there to discuss the new Curriculum Entitlement Statement which sets out what young people in our schools are entitled to educationally. Early finish.
Thursday, my weekly briefing session, where officers brief me on current events and issues. Then to Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP) offices in Digbeth, to meet with their chief executive. Ran back to the council’s Woodcock Street offices to attend an Ofsted feedback session- they’d been in to do an improvement visit, and gave some constructive feedback. Then back to the Council House to meet with Sutton councillors about a local school expansion. Should have worn a pedometer.
Friday, an early catch up with my ward colleague Karen about ward issues in a rather lovely new coffee shop in Selly Oak, then into town for a precious quiet period to catch up on emails. Then a little light relief- the New Street Station opening. Spectacular.
Saturday, an advice bureaux in Selly Oak. Three attendees with various issues. Then, a half day off, followed by door knocking on Sunday to ask people about local parking issues.
And that was my week. In future, more discussion on actual issues, but that should give you a feel for the rhythm of work, the range of activities, and some of the jargon I will no doubt later slip into…