Friday, 10 October 2008

My colleagu Rehana Minhas, Director for Equality and Entitlement, attended the Hamara Community Cohesion event this afternoon...

"Chris, I attended the event late this afternoon. The key note addresses were made by Hilary Benn MP, Simon Lee Vice Chancellor LMU, Local speakers included Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, Dave Richmond, Mark Milsom from Holbeck Police. The event brought partners together to consider the achievements and the next steps for Hamara, based on the evaluation of their community cohesion activity conducted by LMU's Max Farrar and Jane South.

The Hamara community Cohesion Young People's award went to South Leeds High and Peace Jam got a mention. Together for Peace received an award for their work in South Leeds. The Walk Talk initiative won an award which went to the City Council. Have a lovely weekend. Rehana"

It is brilliant to know that Together for Peace and our work at South Leeds were recognised.
My brilliant colleague Heather Scott, Deputy Headteacher at Allerton High Business & Enterprise Specialist School sent me this message and another picture of her wonderful school...

"Hi Chris, Hope you are keeping well. Here we are at the end of week 6 of term (33 to go!) and we've done so much: unpacked 3,500 crates, trained students and staff on how to use our stunning new building, delivered quality lessons, worked out how to do electronic registration, activated 61 interactive whiteboards and 25 laptop trolleys, lived through Ofsted (two months early), welcomed over 650 visitors to our Open Evening on Tuesday and produced our new prospectus. And we're still bouncing and full of energy! Here is a photo we took on our Open Evening, thought you might like it. Best wishes. Heather."

Elaine, Heather and her colleagues have built something world class at Allerton High and it is wonderful to know that the school is going from strength to strength.


My colleague Jo Speak, international co-ordinator at Cookridge Primary School, sent me details of the partnership schools in Leeds have established with Nigeria and South Africa...

"The partnership is part of the British Council’s initiative ‘Connecting Classrooms’, the partnership links clusters of three schools in each of the three countries. This year, Cookridge Primary School is leading the project, the other two schools in Leeds are Ireland Wood Primary and Iveson Primary. The partnership was formed following a Connecting Classrooms partner finding seminar in Ghana at the end of July 2008.

From September 27th to October 6th 2008, three teachers from Nigeria and three from South Africa, visited the Leeds Schools. Visiting teachers took part in a week of activities in school, which involved teaching traditional songs, stories and dances. The International School Council made up of children from the three Leeds primary schools interviewed the African visitors during a lunchtime planning meeting. Children from Cookridge Primary School demonstrated their South African Gum Boot dance and South African hymn to members of a local community group, OPAL (older persons group) as part of their AGM on Friday 3rd October.

Children from Ireland Wood, Iveson and Cookridge all came together to hold a cultural celebration. Performances included Samba drumming, exercise routines singing (in English, Spanish, and Zulu) and the African teachers were presented with a book about Yorkshire and a presentation plate for their schools. Cultural visits throughout the week included meeting the Lord Mayor and a tour of the Civic Hall, a historical tour of York and an Iftar meal (the breaking fast of the month of Ramadan) at the home of one of the teachers.

The visit was a wonderful opportunity to begin working in partnership with our African colleagues. Children in all schools are so excited about working together, despite the miles separating us”

Please contact Cookridge Primary School for further information.
I was sent these photos from the npower Climate Cops session...


Leeds' Peace Poetry Competition

Calling all budding poets and everyone below the age of ten...

You are invited to explore the theme ‘Picture Peace’, and submit a poem of no more than 24 lines to Nicola Megson (Deputy Editor), The Yorkshire Evening Post, Wellington Street, LeedsLS1 1RS before Friday 24 October. The winning entries will be published in The Yorkshire Evening Post.

What have you got to lose?
I missed something special yesterday and my colleague Ros Vahey attended on my behalf...

"Chris, We had a conference at Elland Road called Safeguarding Children and Young People in a Digital World. It was a Leeds City Council, RM and Education Leeds event led by Cathy Morgan education development manager for RM Education. It included a fantastic presentation by Helen Penn from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) about tackling online abuse. Helen reminded us how easy it is to find out everything very quickly about where a child lives, goes to school, pictures of their uniform, and the names of their parents. etc etc by showing us a google search. The event was well attended by police, childrens, social care, teachers, administrators, youth officers, ICT co-ordinators, Bradford, Wakefield and Middlesborough schools, and the voluntary sector, etc. Also Edward Gibson, chief security adviser from Microsoft Lt UK, an ex FBI special agent, (!) shared with us his insights into how we can protect ourselves from the cybercriminals. We heard how the UK is a safe haven for e-crime and how we can better manage the risks. We got freebies of the "free to schools" parents CD-ROM called Know IT All; a guide to getting the most out of the internet and keeping children safe online which can be used in schools ( produced by DCSF, Becta and Childnet International) We saw a video made by a young person about how damaging cyber bullying can be and that it's whole-school community issue. Ros"

Apparently, everybody should have been there!!
I visited another amazing little learning place this morning...

I had been invited by Alison Wrigglesworth, headteacher at Thorner Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School, to open their new library which was quite an honour for me because, as you know, I am more used to closing things.

Thorner Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School is an outstanding little primary school with some fantastic children and a good team led by a great headteacher doing some brilliant work. After my visit Alison sent me this e-mail and this great photograph.

"Dear Chris, Please find attached the photos from your visit this morning. May I say how grateful I am that you visited today and how supported I felt that you took the time to talk to me? I know the staff were pleased that you came out to see us. Looking forward to seeing you next week! Kindest regards Alison."

It was great to visit this wonderful little school and an honour to be asked to open their new library.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Cllr Harker and I moved on to Rodillian High School...

Rodillian High School is one of the three new Building Schools for the Future schools opened this term and it is brilliant! The teaching and learning team and the students very clearly love their new building. The school was amazingly calm, orderly and purposeful and Andy Goulty, the new headteacher,and his leadership team are doing a wonderful job focusing on behaviour and discipline and teaching and learning as two key strands to build brilliant.

This is the future and we were deeply impressed with the gym, the dining hall, the Children's Centre run by Daisy Chain, the hall, the streets, the South SLC partnership and the ICT facilities.
I moved on to Colton Primary School with Cllr Richard Harker...

We had been invited to npower's Climate Cop Academy Day at Colton Primary School. This is part of npower's Greener Schools Programme and reflects their long term commitment to helping children and teachers make a real difference to their school and their environment and it's brilliant.

The programme helps children in Years 5 and 6 learn about climate change and energy efficiency in a fun and stimulating way. The young people experience interactive activities, video presentations and team challenges to develop their knowledge and understanding and their personal skills.

I think every primary school in Leeds should experience this fantastic programme.
I started the day with some more brilliant colleagues...

I had breakfast with the SILC Principals at Space@Hillcrest and it was a great start to the day. Bill Chatwin, Andrew Hodkinson, Diane Reynard, Sue Steward and Michelle Wilman are leading our special educational needs work at the front line and we have achieved so much together in this vitally important area over the last few years. We have seen a transformation in provision and outcomes for these very special children through the brilliant core provision which we continue to deliver, the innovative and creative partnerships the SILCs have established with primary and special schools and through some amazing outreach and development work pioneered by the SILCs in areas like hospital provision, work on the autistic spectrum and emotional and behavioural provision.
My colleague Tammy Prince headteacher at Garforth Green Lane Primary School contacted me today with some brilliant news...

Nicola Davies, the Year 3 Coordinator for Modern Foreign Languages has been awarded MFL Teacher of the Year at a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament today. Nicola has been teaching Spanish and French for the last four years. Her nomination states “Nicola is an experienced, dedicated, enthusiastic and very effective primary teacher in Modern Foreign Languages.” She has a “multi-sensory, fun and innovative approach to teaching and learning in all year groups from Reception to Year 6”. Themed weeks at school and Nativity plays in French are run by Nicola to encourage learning. She has recently been appointed Primary National Strategy Leading Teacher in Modern Foreign Languages.

Scholastic and La Jolie Ronde decided to launch this Award from a shared desire to recognise and celebrate the very best in language teaching taking place in UK primary schools. From 2010, the teaching of foreign languages will become compulsory for all Key Stage 2 children in England and Wales. This makes the teaching of foreign languages a high priority for teachers and schools.

The finalists were selected by a Panel of experts: Geoff Swinn, Deputy CEO and Director of Education & Skills, The National Centre for Languages (CILT), Michelle Guy (Editor, Junior Education PLUS), Colette Hallam, Founder of La Jolie Ronde, Peter Satchwell, Independent Language Consultant and Britta Giersche – German Managing Editor Mary Glasgow Magazines.

Nicola can choose either an all expenses paid two-day trip to Northern France for up to 30 children and 5 teachers or a tailored MFL training course. She will also receive £1000 of La Jolie Ronde resources and £1000 of Scholastic books, plus a framed certificate and a class set of La Petite Presse, Scholastic Modern Foreign Languages book and a Scholastic magazine subscription of her choice.

Congratulations to Nicola, one of our stars releasing the magic at Green Lane Primary School!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I started the day at the David Young Community Academy...

We were at the Academy for the Education Leeds Board Meeting and for the opportunity for members of the Board to look around the new Academy. Ros McMullen, the Principal of the David Young Community Academy, showed us around her fantastic building. The atmosphere, the culture and ethos, the discipline, the management, the team and the students were impressive to say the least. Attendance is improving, exclusions are coming down and the results are fantastic. The Academy is a brilliant addition to the learning landscape in East Leeds! On the basis of this visit who wouldn't want more Academies in Leeds!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

I met the Swedish group again this evening,,,

We had arranged a Civic Reception for the group at the Civic Hall with the Lord Mayor which Cllr Richard Harker also managed to attend. The group had a great day and were bowled over by the workshops and the visits to Notre Dame Sixth Form College and Park Spring Primary School. This is a very talented group of Swedish politicians and educators who are really interested in our work on Healthy Schools, Inclusion Chartermark, Stephen Lawrence and ICT and I hope that the relationship with Sollentuna will continue to develop.
I went to the official opening of the new building at Great Preston CE Primary School...

The ceremony was another opportunity for Bishop James, Bishop of Knaresborough to celebrate this little school coming together on one site and now in its new early years building. The 'ribbon' was cut by Mareea Yeomans former headteacher at Great Preston CE Infant School. It has taken three years and there is still some work to do to finish off the building but the new building is fantastic and I was delighted to see the bright new classrooms, new toilets, new staffroom and the nursery provision!

Well done to everyone involved.
I started the day at the Carriageworks with a group of colleagues from Sollentuna in Sweden...

My colleague Allyn Pazienza has organised a brilliant couple of days for our guests: with workshop sessions covering inclusion, equality, health, ICT, and leadership and visits to Notre Dame Sixth Form College, Park Spring Primary School, Derek Fatchett City Learning Centre, Carr Manor Primary School and Carr Manor High School. I'll let you know what they think.
Another week, another country...

Finland gets some of the best results in the world and the best results in Europe so I spent three days in Helsinki at the beginning of last week searching for the magic ingredient, only to discover that it isn't there. What I discovered and of course what I already knew is that the magic is already here - it's just unevenly distributed.

On my two days back in Leeds at the end of last week I had breakfast with some great colleagues, visited Wykebeck Primary School, heard about the West Oak Partnership's innovation award, heard about Dinneka Smillie's success at the National Aimhigher Awards and visited the Elmete and Blenheim Centres.

So what is the answer? What builds brilliant? Of course it's brilliant people... colleagues like Peter Harris, Georgina Winterburn, Jane Fisher, Andrew Hodkinson, Jenny Millington, Richard Boughey, Ken Campbell and many more... colleagues whose leadership, passion, enthusiasm, energy, persistence, determination and hard work are transforming learning and our learning places.

What are you doing to build brilliant and release the magic?
My colleague Geoff Roberts sent me this wonderful piece of news...

"Hi Chris, hope all is well with you. I just wonder if anyone has let you know that the NW SILC, specifically the Penny Field site, is into the final 8 for the Yorkshire allocation of Peoples Million from TheBigLottery Fund. I only just found this out and I am Vice-Chair, so I suspect that the great news is not out there yet. Even if we don’t win, it is great news to have simply got this far and I know that it has got the staff buzzing already. Best Wishes, Geoff"

This is wonderful for the NW SILC. Let's all hope that we win!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Perhaps it's me, but after another day and another National Strategies meeting I sometimes wonder if I am living on the same planet as everyone else...

We had a meeting this afternoon where nineteen Leeds colleagues and six National Strategies colleagues watched by Government Office spent three hours to reach the conclusion that we need to continue to address standards in the Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.

Perhaps it's simply accountability. For me it's about trust and respect. Surely we can accept and understand that everyone in that room wants to improve outcomes for all our children. Surely we can recognise the talent and the ability sitting in that room and the difference these colleagues are making... most of them are doing it day-in and day-out in some of the most challenging contexts and communities. Surely we don't have to constantly go over the issues with a group of people who don't really understand our context, our culture and our challenges.

Perhaps it's me but I simply can't bear to work out what the meeting cost and I daren't ask myself what difference it made to provision in schools here in Leeds because I already know the answer!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

My colleague Shelagh Dixon, our Active Schools Development Officer, showed me her latest work to promote happy, healthy active lunchtimes...

The materials details the support, resources and courses for schools covering aspects from anti-bullying to first aid and Heartstart, from emotional health and well-being to TimetoPlay, from peer mentoring to play area organisation. The materials are supported by a fantastic register of exemplar schools willing to share their effective practice.

Shelagh and her colleagues have produced a really powerful toolkit that will help every school develop happy, healthy, active lunchtimes. For more information go to InfoBase quick code D1702.
Young people from across Leeds are just back from Los Angeles where they've been rubbing shoulders with Nobel Peace laureates at the international 'Peace Jam'...

The 'Peace Jam' initiative
enables young people from across the world to meet with and learn from Nobel Peace laureates, then be mentored to become peace-builders in their communities. This year forty students from six schools – South Leeds High School, Abbey Grange CE High School, Brigshaw High School, Garforth Community College, Otley Prince Henry's Grammar School and Intake High School and Arts College - attended the event.

If you want to find out more visit the Together for Peace website at www.
My colleague Peter Harris, headteacher at Farsley Farfield Primary School sent me this over the weekend...

"Dear Chris, I had a meeting with Richard Boughey yesterday and it was a thoroughly inspiring and interesting 75 minutes. Such meetings are rare. It probably helped that we seemed to share a wider interest in energy efficiency/greener ways of working. We were also both very concerned about the 'digital divide' and we are committed to finally addressing this.

I do think that we have lacked leadership as regards ICT for a number of years - I'm not sure that primary school head teachers generally understand what Education Leeds' vision for the future is. The structure for ICT leadership and dissemination of information is vague and relatively ineffective I think. The funding for INSET in ICT compares very, very unfavourably with the level of input into other National Strategies initiatives that will see most teachers getting a couple of days training in maths and literacy over the next two terms with supply cover included. With this in mind, it seems sad that my head teacher colleagues have insisted that the Harnessing Technology grant is devolved almost entirely to schools. That will probably just shift a few more boxes at RM or PC World - where is the innovation? Where is the reflection? What was your line on this? I know that you like to avoid controversial subjects like this on your blog, but you do have influence!

As regards my own school, I continue to be delighted by the huge efforts of my teachers every week to summarise the content of their lessons and set homework on the (under-funded) learning platform. Feedback from parents is very good. We regularly link to video resources, online games and class photo galleries. We have subscribed ourselves to Education City, including the Homework Module, and each child has taken home their own Pass Card. We are also using Lexia Reading online at home with selected children. I shall use my share of the Harnessing Technology grant to buy a few laptops with 3G internet connection to lend to my poorest families whilst we wait for Family IT vouchers to hopefully gallop over the horizon next financial year. I also disagree with my headteacher colleague about email - I find it very quick to use, especially with the new email client from LLN that has recent recipients in the left hand pane. I like to see what my colleagues are receiving - perhaps I am a control freak? Deleting and forwarding email is very quick. Best wishes, Peter"

I think Peter is right and he lays down a challenge to all of us. I know Richard Boughey and colleagues are working to develop ownership and engagement with headteachers around the development of ICT across Leeds. But, perhaps we haven't had enough leadership in this critical area which has the potential to transform learning and learning outcomes and is massively under-resourced by all of us; in terms of development, training and investment. And, you are right that the answer isn't to divide up the funding so that everyone can buy another couple of laptops. So how do we tackle this and drive the development of ICT for learning across Leeds?