My first day back to the office yesterday after Japan and Cornwall, and I was hit by a wall of activity. The SEL, 'Social enterprise: A brighter future future for schools?' conference on Thursday seems unbelievably well timed. So much so, that as things stand, I have been lined up on the day for interviews with BBC Breakfast News and Women's Hour.
Following the launch of the Labour manifesto yesterday and the Conservatives today, everyone is talking about communities and social entrepreneurs running public services. The Tory manifesto even includes the following: "Our public service reform programme will enable social enterprises, charities and voluntary groups to play a leading role in delivering public services and tackling deep-rooted social problems." This will be the first time a major conference about that very issue, in the context of education, has been held in public. Those speaking include exemplary educationalists like Sir Michael Wilshaw, Principal of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, who has shown how schools can excel under the Academy model, and others like Neil McIntosh CEO of fellow social enterprise CfBT Education Trust who are keen to promote the model of social enterprise, to ensure the sustainability of education projects. I can't wait, should be fascinating.
The bottom line for me is that we know there is an appetite for social enterprises like the Parent Promoted Foundation to take over running their local schools where existing management has failed to get a grip. I will not be distracted by the old slurs, that its only pushy middleclass parents wanting to take over everything, or its business trying to come in through the back door. Rubbish.
We have worked closely with some of the leading innovators in this field like Carmel McConnell from Magic Breakfast, June O'Sullivan at London Early Years Foundation and Paul Mason at PPF and we know there are highly qualified people in the wings, desperate to role up their sleeves and get stuck in to sort the intractable problems faced by families in London trying to make their way through the system. They just need an opportunity.
I hope you are enjoying the sun as much as I am. As I love being outside I was in the garden on Saturday and allotment on Sunday. The garden is looking quite good, my roses seem to be bouncing back from the hard winter well, although green fly is aready in evidence! But I also appear to have lost a couple of clematis. At the allotment my forced rhubarb is nothing short of spectacular. The colours of the stalks when they emerged from their dark hidding place is almost unearthly, and the taste is a delight. Subtle and not at all tart as my allotment neighbour Ben said in his text to me on Sunday having enjoyed the stalks I gave him.
I promised an update on the decorating. I managed, with the help of my friend Sarah to finish the hall stairs and landings before setting off to Japan. 2 coats, 3 ceilings, 4lbs of body weight (who needs the gym?), 9 doors, 30 litres of paint and 72 stair spindles later it looks like this......
The before shot, darker despite
the lighter walls I think