Thursday, 28 February 2008

I received a great letter today from Alison Collins, Pupil Support Manager at Wortley High School...

Alison had received a letter from Jackie Smith, the Home Secretary, about the Weapons Awareness programme she has been running. Pat Regan from 'Mothers Against Gun Crime' had spoken to Jackie Smith about the way the Wortley students had responded to her session and how impressed she was with the letters the students had sent her after the session.

It is wonderful to see the brilliant work colleagues across the city are doing being recognised in this way.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

What a strange day...

We had about five minutes with Beverley Hughes MP because she was called back to the House of Commons to vote! Basically, she said sorry she was late, thanked us for coming, told us that she recognised the importance of joined up solutions, that she recognised the scale of the challenge we were facing and that she was pleased that we were working with the DCSF on these wicked issues.

We did spend the best part of two hours with DCSF colleagues talking about the challenges we face, but what was very clear was that the real focus was around teenage pregnancy NEET; young people not in education, employment or training, youth justice and tackling extremism, The thing I constantly wrestle with on days like today are what did it cost to bring six of us and three colleagues from Government Office down to London to meet with about ten of them and what real value did it add?

I suppose the real challenge is for us to make sure that we build on the outcomes from the meeting and use them powerfully to support us as we continue to drive the Children's agenda here in Leeds. Hopefully at the same time we can declutter and focus our resources on the real issues we are facing.


I am sitting on a train travelling to London to see Beverley Hughes, Minister for Children...

Rosemary Archer and her team, including Cllr Richard Harker and I, are meeting with DCSF officials about our youth outcomes and then we are seeing the Minister. I'll keep you posted!
The negatives roll in constantly and we are challenged all the time to do better, faster and more effectively in our schools, our classrooms and our communities...

I want to put it on record that I currently work with the most creative, talented and effective team I have ever worked with and if anyone thinks that they can do better simply roll up your sleeves and step up to the plate.

Interestingly, I constantly visit schools here in Leeds and I know that we are making a real difference to young peoples lives and achieving better outcomes year on year. I know that we have the processes, we have the materials, we have the passion, we have the discipline, we have the intellectual rigour and more importantly we have the people to deliver real magic and achieve brilliant outcomes.

Like you, I am not in any way complacent about the challenges we face here in this wonderfully rich, diverse and incredibly challenging city. Like you, I am constantly looking for the answers and asking myself how much more we can do. I passionately believe that the real key lies with our leaders and our learning teams and how we convince them that the journey we are on is the right journey and that they are in control and trusted as the talented leaders, coaches, guides, mentors and teachers building pathways to excellence for each and every one of our young people.

Monday, 25 February 2008

It's been one of those days...

I started the day at Leeds Town Hall with members of our Leadership Team and briefly attended Children's Services Leadership Team Leadership Session before I went on to attend the Local Area Agreement Strategy Group Session at the Carriageworks. I then attended the Children's Services Leadership Team meeting with the Joint Area Review team to look at their preliminary findings and provide them with some additional information.

I suppose that you get to the end of a day like this and begin to see the connections. It highlights the big issues, identifies the common factors and allows us to focus on the real challenges we still need to be working on.
I was reading Ram Charan's book 'Know How' over the weekend...

Ram identifies eight 'Know-Hows' which are needed to create brilliant organisations...
  • provide things people want and need;
  • look for patterns in a complex world;
  • get the right people with the right attitudes and the right behaviours and the right information;
  • match people to tasks;
  • get teams working together;
  • set ambitious but realistic goals;
  • set sharp focused priorities;
  • anticipate problems and pressure.

How are you building brilliant in your team, your school or your organisation?