Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christine Gilbert's Adventures in Haringey

In addition to her main job with Brent Council, Christine Gilbert also runs her own company, Christine Gilbert Associates which is still listed as 'active' although the company website is currently unavailable. In August 2013 the company had a networth of £75,421. In addition Christine Gilbert is Executive Chair of the Trustees of Future First an organisation that seeks to set up an alumni system for state schools and colleges in which former students can donate to their institutions as happens with public schools and universities.

In June last year, Claire Kober,  the leader of Haringey Council announced the appointment of Gilbert as 'Schools Champion' for Haringey LINK.

The Haringey Independent LINK yesterday reported that Claire Kober was personally involved in seeking action against NUT representative Julie Davies whose suspension has led to strike action in the borough.

The Kilburn Times reported that Christine Gilbert's post would be paid but that Haringey Council would not disclose the amount LINK 

It now appears that Gilbert is not being paid for this work  (at this point, anyway) but as you will see below it is occupying some of her time. I wonder if Brent Council will claim back any monies she is being paid while carrying out work for Haringey.  

Alan Stanton, in a Guest Blog takes up the story:

I thought Wembley Matters readers may be interested in a reply I received (25 November 2014) to a Freedom of Information Act request to Haringey Council about Christine Gilbert's work as "Education Champion" for Cllr Claire Kober, our Dear Leader.

You can find my request on the WhatDoTheyKnow website LINK.

On 11 June 2013 The Dear Leader (Claire Kober) announced that Ms Christine Gilbert (CBE) had been appointed as Haringey’s "first ever Schools' Champion", saying that as a former Head of Ofsted, Ms Gilbert would "help drive improvements in school performance and pupil attainment across the borough".

As a Haringey resident and a former councillor and school governor I was interested to know more about this appointment. Including the terms of the agreement between Claire and Christine; the work Ms Gilbert was doing; and how much (I wrongly assumed) Haringey was paying.

I'm now told that Ms Gilbert has made some visits (number unknown) to schools (unnamed). She has "provided a range of ideas" (unspecified). In addition Ms Gilbert has had a number(unknown) of conversations with senior officers on a number of occasions (unspecified). Unfortunately, they say that: "It is not possible to document the precise outcomes of that work, which has supported schools general improvement activity".

However, further light may soon be shed on these known unknowns. Haringey adds that: "We are expecting a report from Christine at the end of this year".

For known knowns we have their reply on the agreement and the cash. "There is no formal agreement in place between Ms Gilbert and the Council, nor has any payment been made and no council expenses have been incurred".

Which I found a little surprising. Not even coffee and a sandwich at the end of Christine's long bus-rides on the North Circular? I hope that, at the very least, we offered her an Oyster card.

While the exciting job of "Champion" is a new and evolving development in Haringey, in my imagination, I envisaged something slightly more businesslike. Maybe an exchange of letters or emails between Ms Gilbert and our Dear Leader. So that it was clear to both of them - and to the headteachers and senior staff in the Children's Service - when Ms Gilbert was dropping-in and why.

Of course, friendly inter-borough co-operation and contact is always helpful. But we can hardly have local government running on an informal basis, can we?


  1. The Daily Mail recently became very excitable about the idea of Julie Davis being paid HARDWORKING HARINGEY TAXPAYERS' MONEY! for her union activities. Yet it seems that Claire Kober, when not feeding the Mail's outrage, is encouraging Christine Gilbert to accept HARDWORKING BRENT TAXPAYERS' MONEY! for activities carried out on behalf of Claire Kober and Haringey when she's surely got plenty to do cleaning out the stables (and kennels) in Brent.

    I've no doubt that Paul Dacre will be on to this in a flash.

  2. So Gilbert drops Haringey on it during the Baby P Ofsted inspection and is then asked back to champion schools. Does this connect somehow? Is her 'free' work for Haringey by way of atonement /contrition?

    With ref to doing Haringey work in Brent time, there used to be a convention that full-time officers gave their whole-time attention to the council and did not take on other paid executive work. Whatever happened to that?

    And what has happened to the latest innovation of giving highly paid officers use of Oyster cards? Haringey should cough up, after all we in Brent have had to do so!!

    While I think about it, is Haringey's chief executive about to retire /take a sabbatical /wander off into the sunset?

    Is there a major restructure of their Education department in the offing?

    Just asking.........