A week of meetings and two conferences

I think most people who read this blog would have noticed a period of no or limited blogging. This was on purpose, as my new role as a Cabinet Member required certain things had to change. That doesn’t meant I have all gone corporate, but a balance has to be struck. And until I had worked out how I was going to blog, it was best to limit the blog posts.

Now found that balance and I am re-invigorated with tapping the keyboard and sharing my views, thoughts and frustrations. As part of blogging, I will try and do a weekly round-up of some of the things I have been doing which I have not blogged about separately. To give you an insight to the varied role I have.

For the week of 30th September till the 6th October it has mostly been a week of meeting on budgets in one shape or another. However, I have also been to two conferences.

The first was the Aiming Higher Conference which is in its seventh year. The attendees are a mixture of parents and carers of disabled children and professionals who specialise in this field. I was asked to open the conference which this being my first to open, there was an added pressure of not talking a load of rubbish.

I found the conference very useful as the agenda was set by the parents and carers. So it was good to understand just some of their concerns. And as you probably guessed it, these concerns were about services, budgets and the national picture; including the latest government view. The latter was delivered by an excellent presentation from Amanda Allard of the Council for Disabled Children. This presentation was excellent and showed the national picture on certain issues.

The second conference I attended was that of the pre-school alliance, which took place on Saturday. This conference gave me the chance to talk to providers, after small social enterprises who are having a tough time. The feedback I got was on the Two-year funding, failing numbers, Ofsted and the lack of free training. The training was a big issues as much was out of the price of the small providers.

I gained a lot of very useful information from both these conferences. It is also very good talking to the people who deliver the services. As for me, it keeps it real.

Next week will include David Laws MP and the Duke of Edinburgh.


  • Steve Haynes

    I’m enjoying your blog updates, Andrew. They put a human face on what can be a remote and impersonal establishment post. Your sharing of your difficulties and attempts to deal with the almost impossible task of rationalising the budget, and still maintaining a positive view that you can make a difference, is a great example to us all.

  • Zoe Willey

    It was a shame that both you and Trevor left before lunch, (as always happens at this conference) so the parents could not ask you any questions and you did not have the opportunity to listen to any of their concerns or comments. Oh well there is always next year!

  • Andrew Wallis

    Hi Zoe,

    Fear not, all the questions were written down and will be answered fully. So I will know the concerns raised at this conference.

  • Andrew Wallis

    Thanks Steve,

    Glad you enjoy reading and I am getting my message across.

  • Zoe Willey

    I know post it notes were issued out, but as parents we were not given the opportunity to hear you views, or ask direct questions, which makes us feel that we are not listened to or taken seriously and that disabled children and there siblings are being sidelined. We have very few opportunities to talk to stake holders and having arranged paid childcare for my 3 children and travelling doing a 70 mile round trip to get to the conference ( with no expenses as the professional do! ) my self and the other 40 or so parents ( many who took the day off) felt short changed to say the least. You spoke for less than 3 mins introducing the conference and we heard nothing else from you. I feel that you wasted the opportunity to hear from us the parents, the ones who have to deal with the issues 24/7. You could have learned so much about how our lives are affected and this in turn would help you with the difficult task of knowing which services to cut and which ones are so important to our children and family. Maybe next time you could make sure that you and Trevor book out the day in your diary as this is planned well in advance.

  • Andrew Wallis

    Fair point Zoe But why wait to a conference to raise an issue? I’ve already made it clear anyone can contact me if you have questions

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