Saturday, 26 January 2008

Exceptional Events Management

My colleague Julie Thompson, Enterprise Ambassador within the Education Buusiness Partnership Team sent me this case study...

"Bramley Primary school puts on a production every Christmas but inevitably there are some young people who do not get a part in the play. This year, instead of being redundant, 10 year 6 pupils became the events management company for the play: the ‘Bramley Play Organisers’. The school was looking to raise money and create some good PR and this became the company’s objective.

The young people were immediately excited by this real business challenge and they were totally engaged from the start. The company bid for a business start up loan of £50 from Education Leeds and one of the Enterprise Ambassadors acted as Business Consultant for the duration of the project. Pupils were elected into roles matched to their skills and qualities including, PR Executive, Catering Adviser, Logistics and Finance Managers.

The team worked brilliantly to manage the event. They approached ‘Gregg’s’ who became their official sponsor, donated mince pies and Christmas biscuits while paying a fee of £75 to advertise in the programme. The play was promoted and marketed so effectively that tickets quickly sold out, making these pupils feel very important. The business loan was used to provide their guests with a range of refreshments, with prices set to ensure a profit.

Through their skills in meeting and greeting their guests, their commitment to health and safety and their innovative business decisions the company made £ 318 in profit for the school. They promoted and sold programmes, held a raffle and set up a deal with year 3 who made biscuits for them to sell at the event.

David Harrison, the headteacher commented, ‘this is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn on the job, it gives them an insight into logistics and the amount of work that goes into making things happen. These children took ownership of the event, it allowed them to be creative and feel part of a real working team.’

Jack Clark, head of PR for the company, offers the following advice for other Year 6 students who may be thinking about managing an event in their school: ‘it’s a really good thing to do because it improves your skills in working in a group. The best way to manage an event is to work together as a team and to share and listen to each others ideas, also to not be scared to disagree with people.’

By using the school production as an enterprise, the whole school have been able to be involved, increasing motivation and aspiration. The whole event had a sense of purpose and engaged everyone from start to finish."

There are so many ways in which we can engage young people in managing and delivering real activities in our schools from publications and websites to open days and events management, from art exhibitions and concerts to recycling and environmental projects. The future is brilliant especially where it is designed, managed and delivered by children and young people!

Jessica’s Story

My colleague Christine Marsden, Curriculum Development Manager in the Education Business Partnership Team, told me this story last week...

"Jessica is a year 11 student at South Leeds High School who recently took part in an enterprise run by the Education Business Partnership team entitled ‘Cashpoints the Money Management Game’. This runs over a whole school day and requires students to work in teams of 6 running a company for the day. They work alongside a business adviser who offers advice and support on running the company and gives detailed feedback about each individual’s performance after each of the five rounds. Each student takes on a job role for which they receive a wage. They have to pay for their house, food, utilities each round and budget for their non-essential items such as a car, holiday and clothes as the game progresses.
Jessica clearly did not want to take part in the event informing us on her arrival ‘I don’t do business studies so I shouldn’t be here!’ She sat with her team and waited to begin but the body language indicated that she had no intention of joining in willingly. It was evident that Jessica had either got up in a hurry and didn’t want to be late or that she had already made up her mind that going back to bed after a quick exit from school was on the cards as turned up with her pyjamas under her coat! When asked why she actually had come in her pyjamas she replied with a grin ‘well there wasn’t much point getting dressed if I was going to go back to bed was there!’

Indeed she was clear that if it turned out to be ‘rubbish’ she was going to go home at break.
It was however only a matter of time before Jessica began to engage with the process and was duly elected company manager. She listened to her business adviser and acted on his advice, slowly taking over responsibility for the running of the company.

Break came and went. Jessica was not only still in the hall but more importantly had forgotten what time it was and that she was at school. For her she was at work, trying to keep her company afloat and manage her staff. Jessica kept her business adviser entertained all day, challenging him on his advice and often choosing to run with her own of other team members’ ideas. By lunch she had made a decision as to who should be made redundant, justifying her decision in a very business like manner. She had made a radio announcement on the microphone in front of her peers, a real achievement for her to speak in public and by the end of the day had won the main prize of ‘entrepreneur of the day’. She even gave up the privilege to leave early despite pressure from her peers to do so.

Jessica was a star. She, like many other students who take part in such programmes, had a sense of purpose. Jessica wanted to prove to herself that she could do it. The powerful message that she went away with was that she was ‘employable’ and had skills which she could transfer from her learning into a work environment. She has now agreed to talk to teachers about the event at a major Teacher Professional Development Placement event in March, a real achievement for any young person.

For the teachers this proved that by incorporating a creative approach to learning through the curriculum, students will become more engaged. This event raised their expectations with comments such as ‘I wouldn’t have believed it unless I had seen it with my own eyes’ as students cooperated effectively in their teams to ‘I cant get him to write anything in class without a struggle’ said of a boy reflecting on his learning and setting targets based on his adviser feedback."

This story proves once again the power of fantastic provision which engages and stimulates young people to learn. Everyone has the potential to be brilliant and Jessica's story shows us what we can do when we think differently and really connect with our young learners.
Yesterday afternoon, Rosemary Archer and I signed up to 'The Big Deal'...

'The Big Deal' is the Children's Workforce Development Council's Sector Skills Agreement which sets out what we need to do to build a world class workforce to deliver the very best outcomes for children, young people and families. It sets out the skills, knowledge and competencies the children's workforce needs for the future.

The priorities for action are:
  • recruitment and retention;
  • workforce skills;
  • qualifications and training;
  • funding for training and development;
  • workforce intelligence.

We are the first authority to sign up to'The Big Deal' and you can find out more at www.


I met with Tim Riches and Sharon Middleton from Radiowaves...

Radiowaves aims to harness young people's natural enthusiasm for creating media to engage them in compelling learning opportunities. Radiowaves uses social networking and web technologies to provide unique and safe platforms to connect and inspire young people. You can find out more about Radiowaves by visiting their website at

We are looking to find ways to work with the Radiowaves team.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Yesterday, I spent the afternooon at Adel Primary School...

The headteacher, Stephen Boothroyd, had arranged a wonderful programme for me which included:
  • lunch with the children;
  • school chess club;
  • Year 3's 'Warburton's surprise';
  • Year 4's 'Build a wormery';
  • Year 3's story time;
  • school orchestra.

These are the pictures of the wormery being built...

and the worms being collected...

Thanks to colleagues at Adel Primary School for a brilliant afternoon!


I realise that I work with some exceptional colleagues...

Colleagues across Education Leeds are working at the cutting edge in so many vital areas... Healthy Schools, Stephen Lawrence Education Standard, Inclusion Chartermark, School Food, Bluewave SWIFT, Sensory Services, Building Schools for the Future, Secondary Advisers, Primary Advisers, Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support, National Strategies, Education Business Partnership, Gypsy, Roma and Travellers Support, Playing for Success and Study Support, Parent Support Advisers, Extended Services, Attendance and Behaviour Partnerships, Communications, Governors Support, Organisational Change, Finance, Personnel, PMIT... the list goes on and on.

I sometimes struggle to understand why we still have so many endemic problems across Leeds... attendance, behaviour, special needs, standards, buildings, leadership... how come the brilliant services we are providing are not impacting on the real issues we are facing?

Thursday, 24 January 2008

My colleague Heather Scott, Deputy Headteacher at Allerton High Business & Enterprise Specialist School sent me this e-mail...

"Hi Chris, Just a brief note to let you know that yesterday we were assessed for our continuous compliance to the Chartermark Award – and we passed! We are dead pleased that our hard work is being recognised by external visitors. It’s not easy to get this standard, as you know – and we are thrilled. We think there are only 2 other high schools in Leeds who have it – Roundhay and Benton Park. Best wishes. Heather"

It is great to get recognition... even great schools like Allerton High need the regular feedback about how well they are doing. What is particularly impressive is that they have achieved the Chartermark Award. Well done to everone involved!


Wednesday, 23 January 2008

I spent the remainder of the morning at a school I have visited many times over the last seven years. I went to Quarry Mount Primary School where Jan Warton is Interim Headteacher until Easter...

Jan has done a really good job building on the work we have been doing with the school. I was really impressed at the calm and very purposeful atmosphere around the school, Jan's analysis of the key issues facing the school, by the real progress the school is making and most importantly by the wonderful children... who were passionate engaged in a maths 'mission impossible' and a science 'who wants to be a millionaire' ...they also have a particularly impressive Year 6 whose work on 'Othello' was fantastic!

I was impressed to hear that the recent school survey had revealed that the favourite subjects were art and sport and ICT. The least favourite was RE! You can visit their developing website at where you can see some incredible artwork by Year 4 and Year 6.
I went on to attend the Integrated Children's Services Team Leaders meeting...

The team leaders were discussing how we best use our time together, the roles and responsibilities of team leaders and how we can streamline and sharpen up the processes around strategic planning, key strategies and priorities and team planning. It was stimulating and interesting to be able to spend time coaching, encouraging and listening to this brilliant group of talented colleagues.
I started the day early at the Blenheim Centre...

I bumped into my colleagues Wendy Winterburn and Nary Nixon at the door. They are both doing some really outstanding work around parent support and behavioural provision which is having a real impact here in Leeds. We talked about the opportunities we have to ensure that every child and very young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful and some of the challenges we are facing to build consistently brilliant provision across the city. It is wonderful to be able to take the time to talk to two such fantastic colleagues.

The Leader’s Role

“ passion, purpose and intellectual sparkle.”

Ø vision for the future;
Ø confidence;
Ø courage
Ø ask hard questions;
Ø discipline;
Ø vigour;
Ø creativity.

We need our leaders to coach us, support us, encourage us and help us maintain personal networks and friendships based on our shared vision, values and beliefs.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

I went to Elmete Centre this afternoon...

It's certainly true that great organisations are about great individuals who operate in great teams. We have so many brilliant collegaues working at Elmete in strong and highly effective teams... secondary advisers, primary advisers, healthy schools team, FAST team, learning communities team, extended services team... everywhere you look there are great colleagues making an extraordinary difference.

Great organisations, great schools and great teams build and reinforce collaborative working. We all need to:
  • select team players;
  • induct team players;
  • mentor team players;
  • coach team players;
  • collectively reward team players;
  • encourage team working;
  • develop social responsibility.

Are you a team player?

I started the day with a series of briefings for the politicians...

I briefed Cllr Wakefield, Cllr Harker and Cllr Blackburn who all asked really challenging questions and showed great interest in what we are doing, the barriers we are facing and the impact and outcomes we are achieving.
Work can be great... stimulating, engaging, innovative, energising, collaborative and passionate. It can also be dreary, dull, predictable, political, competitive and draining. It's up to you...
Personally I choose great!
The key to brilliant schools, brilliant teams and brilliant organisations is to engage, switch on and keep switched on the colleagues who work with us...

Everyone tells me that it simply doesn't work like that but here is a four week plan to build brilliant.
Be unfailingly positive and upbeat, smile a lot and say something positive and meaningful to anyone and everyone who makes a difference or helps;
Show a genuine interest, actively engage colleagues and listen carefully to what they say;
Make colleagues feel valued, single out anyone who has gone the extra mile and show your appreciation with letters, chocolates or flowers.
Practice, practice, practice and enjoy!

Try it and see.


I have been looking at the DCSF web-site and it makes interesting reading. I was particularly interested in the two tables they have produced of 'Top Primary Schools'...

The Top 100 primary schools nationally based on KS1 - KS2 contextual value added includes
  • St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School.

The Top 100 primary schools nationally based on sustained improvement at Level 4+ from 2004 - 2007 includes

  • Little London Community Primary School; and
  • Holy Rosary and St Anne's Catholic Primary School.

Congratulations to the colleagues whose hard work, in these three schools, has been so publicly recognised.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Dirk Gilleard and I went on to attend a team lunch with the Education Leeds Education Business Partnership team...

This fantastic team is supported by the West Leeds Learning and Skills Council and works to create links between schools and businesses through an amazing portfolio of enterprise, professional development and work experience programmes. The team did a presentation for Dirk and I to outline the range and quality of their work from 'Cashpoints' to 'Boom Bizz', from the 'IKEA Way' to 'ADOPO', from 'Bee Crafty' to the 'Stocks and Shares Challenge'!

Enterprise is about problem-solving, decision making, leadership and risk management. It's about creating a can-do culture where young people tackle real problems, take responsibility for their decisions and evaluate the impact of those decisions... and the work here in Leeds is ground breaking and brilliant!

This creative and brilliant team's work is right at the heart of a new approach to the curriculum which engages and challenges young people around a key set of core skills vital for the world of work and for life in general. If you want to know more about their work contact Mike Cooper or Christine Marsden at Leeds West City Learning Centre.
Be careful it's Blue Monday...

Research suggests it is the most depressing day of the year! Interestingly my journey in today would support that theory... it took me 75 minutes and the traffic simply crawled from the junction of the A1 with the A64... I know it's time to think about the issues and challenges we face and focus on impact and outcomes but it's dark and miserable, the traffic is horrendous, people drive so badly and get so cross with each other... it's simply the most depressing start to the week!

However, once here, my first meeting of the day, with Leadership Team, was a breath of fresh air; positive, powerful, reflective and focused. It energised me for the week.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

I went to see Opera North perform Madam Butterfly on Friday night and it was brilliant again. If you get a chance to see it, don't miss it!
What are the charactersistics of a learning organisation...

A Learning Organisation...

  • Values and clebrates diversity;
  • Transforms ideas into action;
  • An appetite for risk;
  • Ongoing commitment to learning;
  • Mission-driven and alignment with vision;
  • Values relationships;
  • Fosters shared decision-making;
  • Encourages curiosity;
  • Embraces change;
  • Learns from successes;
  • Learns from negative experiences;
  • Makes the flow of information transparent;
  • Shares widely and generously.

Are you working in a learning organisation?


Just don't tell me that their are groups of young people who can't learn and who can't be successful because I don't believe it...

Recent brain research shows that the ability to learn is universal and is similar in people from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, what is learned is the distinguishing feature of success in any school. The failure of any student to achieve is a product of there being a mismatch between what is being taught and what is being learned rather than there being some students who “cannot learn.”

We know that the keys to learning are the student’s ability to learn, the way in which the classroom is organized and managed and the relationships between student, teacher and parent.Therefore there are three major issues we need to address...
  • putting in place an appropriate, stimulating and challenging curriculum,
  • engaging every student in the curriculum as without engagement, little is learned,
  • enabling the student to build a positive relationship to learning, and the people who are
    involved in their learning, so that they can become a lifelong learner.

I believe that building a positive relationship to learning is the key to unlocking the potential of all our learners. The problem is that under the current system of accountability, with a highly structured curriculum based on specific standards and the continuous testing of student knowledge, building a positive relationship to learning is the thing we spend the least time on.


“leadership is a key, vision is a driver, relationships are the glue that binds teams of
people together and learning enables them to work innovatively and interdependently.”

Steve Marshall

I have been reading the ''International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement'. The last chapter on 'School Effectiveness and Improvement in the Twenty-first Century: Reframing for the Future' captures the challenges we face and the choices we need to make to ensure that every young person becomes a passionate and committed learner.It identifies the following characteristics in order of their importance to student learning:
(1) Classroom management
(2) Metacognitive processes
(3) Cognitive processes
(4) Home environment/parental support
(5) Student/teacher interactions
(6) Social/behavioural attributes
(7) Motivational/affective attributes
(8) Peer group
(9) Quantity of instruction
(10) School culture
(11) Classroom climate
(12) Classroom instruction
(13) Curriculum design
(14) Academic interactions
(15) Classroom assessment
(16) Community influences
(17) Psychomotor skills
(18) Teacher/administrator decision making
(19) Parent involvement policy
(20) Classroom implementation and support
(21) Student demographics
(22) Out of class time
(23) Program demographics
(24) School demographics
(25) Authority policies
(26) School policies
(27) Authority demographics

If we look at the top five elements that contribute to student learning, it becomes
obvious that it is what happens in the classroom and the home that is critical to an individual
student reaching their potential. What happens at the school, authority or national
level has minimal impact.