Saturday, 6 December 2008

I received some more great news after our portfolio of evidence for Level 4 of the Equality Standard was re-assessed...

"It is evident that significant progress has been made and Level 4 of the Equality Standard has been achieved by Education Leeds. There are a number of areas of strength in all areas of the portfolio – the commentary and evidence provided is very good."

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone for another brilliant achievement.
What a TEAM!

Friday, 5 December 2008

This afternoon I visited Crossley Street Primary School in Wetherby...

I had been invited by Sandra Clynes, headteacher, at this great little school to see their new classrooms. I was visiting on their Open Day which was also their Christmas Fair and when I arrived everyone was busily setting up for the Christmas Fair at the end of the school day.

Sandra Showed me around and took me to see the four new classrooms which are fantastic; large, bright, colourful and full of magic! It is a real transformation and the only thing left now is to get rid of those terrible temporary classrooms and landscape the grounds. We have transformed Crossley Street since I started here in Leeds and it is simply remarkable what has been achieved. It goes to prove what you can do with persistence, determination and hard work.
I started the day at Weetwood Hall with Leadership Forum...

We were there to look at the opportunities and the challenges we face and how we further develop our services and support for schools, children and young people, families and communities. It was an opportunity to look at the unique, innovative, creative and very special culture we have built, the way we thread that culture through the beautiful systems that underpin our practice and how we coach and lead as learners.

It is great to spend some time with Leadership Forum and to remember what we have achieved in the last year. Education Leeds is a unique and special organisation with strong and highly effective leadership, an inclusive and enabling ‘can do’ culture and a passion, energy, enthusiasm and commitment to serve the children, young people and families here in Leeds. The company has had another great year and consistently delivered outstanding services to schools, Children’s Services and the Council.

As well as delivering the last two PFI buildings we have seen the opening of the first three new BSF buildings at Allerton High School, Pudsey Grangefield School and Rodillian School, with Allerton High School being officially opened by the Prime Minister. We have also had notification from the DCSF that our Primary Capital Programme proposals have been agreed with some minor amendments which means that we can start work on an ambitious programme of work that will deliver another £100 million capital investment across the city. Our continuing success has been recognised through our nomination for the Carl Bertlesmann Prize, the extension of our Beacon Status for Healthy Schools, the Leeds Transformational Project celebrating the bi-centenary of the abolition of the slave trade which secured £450,000 of Lottery funding, the success of our ‘Find Your Talent’ bid which has secured around £2.5 million of Lottery funding.

We launched our Emotional Health and Well Being Toolkit and our Investors in Pupils programme has moved to a national roll out. We are continuing to develop our Sustainable Schools programme and held our first Leeds Schools Green Day. We achieved and exceeded our 2007-08 PE and School Sport targets, launched our “Happy Healthy Active Lunchtimes” initiative, launched our Time to Play toolkit and established ‘Spirit Alive’ as our response to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

We were the first authority in the Region to gain re-accreditation of our Inclusion Chartermark and our Visually Impaired Service achieved Quality Mark as well as successfully tendering and winning the contract to develop a visually impaired service for British Services Abroad. We also developed, organised and successfully delivered the first national Gypsy, Roma and Travellers History month and Poster Competition and more recently we won two of the national BSF Excellence Awards for the ‘BEST LEP’ and ‘Innovation in ICT’.

The STEPS programme continues to develop with more and more targeted parents and carers benefiting from the programme and 39 clusters of schools and partners are working towards delivering the core offer of extended services; which has been commended by the DCSF for good progress. We have received recognition from House of Lords for our work with International New Arrivals as well as recognition from OFSTED through one of their thematic survey which identified good practice on Social Responsibility and Community Cohesion. Many more of our services have achieved Chartermark and the company was the first to achieve the Cabinet Office’s Customer Service Excellence standard. We have achieved our best ever GCSE results; fantastic results at 5 A*-C, 5 A*-C including English and mathematics, 5 A*-G and 1A*-G and our feedback from the Audit Commission survey which gave us the best satisfaction rating we have ever had from our schools.

As I said... never forget that you are simply brilliant!
I received these great photos of Farsley Farfield Primary School in the snow yesterday....

Isn't it wonderful to see to see the joy on these childrens faces and to remember that a snowy day can be a brilliant way to learn rather than an excuse to stay in bed .
Any more photos gratefully recieved.

I met with the PE and School Sport Co-ordinators from our Specialist Sports Colleges yesterday...

Charlie Pyatt, Brychan Jones, Trudi Hannaford and Richard Chattoe managed to find the time to come with my colleague Helen Plimmer, our Adviser for PE, to talk about their successes to date and how we can continue to drive this vitally importanat work across the city. Sadly Shaun Mulhern couldn't make the meeting but his colleagues covered brilliantly.

The impact and progress with PE and School Sport is another one of our success stories over the last couple of years with around 92% of our young people now accessing two hours of high quality PE and School Sport every week. I am amazed at the fantastic progress we have made and the real excellence developing across the city.

We need to continue to develop a strategic framework to build on this success and ensure that every young person in Leeds has coaching, provision and pathways to activities, to success and to excellence.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

I moved on to the sixth Annual Leeds Peace Poetry Competition at the Civic Hall...

This year the theme was 'Picture Peace' and the evening involved readings of the ten finalists from each of the three age groupings - primary school children, secondary school students and adults. The YEP Award was presented by Peter Lazenby. The Leeds Trinity Award was presented by Dr Paul Hardwick. The overall Leeds Peace Poetry Awards were presented by Kei Miller. Musical interludes were provided by Kamaljeet Ajimal and the wonderful Silver Sparrows.
Late this afternoon I attended the Leeds Mentoring Celebration of Success at the Civic Hall...

This year there have been 4220 mentoring partnerships here in Leeds and the evening provided us with another wonderful opportunity to listen to young people's stories of success encouraged and supported by brilliant mentors. The awards were presented by John Townsley, headteacher at Morley High School, by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and by Cllr Stewart Golton, Lead Member for Children's Services.

Andrew Edwards from BBC Radio Leeds interviewed some of the award winners on the themes of awareness, aspiration and achievement and Bex Wilson, a trainee primary teacher, talked about her 'Hip Hop Summer School' with some of her students. A fantastic evening was had by all.

Thanks to Barry Hilton and the talented Leeds Mentoring team who are making such an incredible difference across the city.
The damage was that 123 schools were closed across Leeds including 25 secondary schools...

I was told that the problem was that buses couldn't get out of the bus depot because of the snow and ice, side roads on the estates were tretcherous and staff couldn't get into schools from their homes. Difficult to understand it really since I had made it from North of York and by 10.30 the snow and ice was rapidly disappearing.
I started the day early at the David Young Community Academy...

I had travelled there from York through the snow for a breakfast meeting with the Seacroft and Manston Family of Schools headteachers. Sadly none of them managed to make it and all the schools were closed for the day because of the snow and the transport problems. So the team who had made it to David Young and I shared the hot bacon rolls and the coffee before I set off for Merrion House to survey the damage.
My colleagues sent me some fabulous photos of the official opening of Allerton High School by the Prime Minister...

It is a wonderful set of memories of a great day for everyone involved with Allerton High School.
My colleague, Ken Campbell our Stepping Stones Programme Manager, sent me this wonderful piece of news about Dinneka Smillie...

"Hi Chris, Dinneka is being interviewed by the Guardian newspaper today on the basis of her winning the Aimhigher national award. I will be with Dinneka as the interview is by telephone. The completed report will appear in the regular 'College Voices' item and will be written by Janet Murray. Dinneka is now 18 and no longer in care. Ken."

Dinneka will go far!


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

I started the day at Boston Spa School...

It was really encouraging to spend time with Chris Walsh, headteacher, to walk around the school listening to 1800 young people at work and to meet, talk and listen to some of those fantastic young people.

This is very clearly a school going places in terms of its leadership, its culture and ethos and its standards, which have improved dramatically over the last couple of years. The school is working hard to develop 'student voice' from a traditional School Council approach picking up and developing their work with Investors in Pupils and the ideas they have taken from 11 Million Takeover Day. The challenge we all face is building brilliant and ensuring that all our young learners take responsibility for their own learning, set their own goals and are coached for excellence. It is encouraging to talk to Chris and his students about their commitment, passion and belief in Boston Spa School as a Centre of Excellence for School Sport and PE and for learning.
My colleague Ros Vahey sent me this e-mail after the Common Purpose 'Your Turn' event...

"Dear Chris, Year 9s from Lawnswood, City of Leeds, Crawshaw and Abbey Grange participated in ‘Your Turn’, a 3 day Common Purpose programme which finished this week. These young people – especially Ben from Crawshaw, Nicola from Abbey Grange and Joe from Lawnswood - stole the show with their leadership skills. They participated on Monday in a ‘Dragons Den’ which meant they were working on real challenges in the city – including how do we make KS3 so exciting that everyone attends school 100%! They developed a ‘pitch’ and won! Some great examples of team working, presentational skills, creativity and determination. How would Gordon Brown like to give the 2.5% reduction in VAT to education so the young people can redesign curriculum delivery, assessment, reward systems and design the school day! Ros."

Your Turn is a brilliant programme and it is great to see our young people putting the educational world to right.


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

This evening I went to the Leeds Schools Music Association Christmas Festival Concert at the Town Hall and it was brilliant...

Around 450 fantastic children and young people entertained a packed house at the Town Hall. The Schools Festival Choir was made up of children from 43 primary schools and the Sing Leeds South Choir was made up of children from nine primary schools in Hunslet, Belle Isle, Beeston Hill and Holbeck. The concert also included performances by the Leeds Youth Brass Band, the Leeds Schools Choir, the Leeds Youth Choir and the Staff Choir. My favourites were 'O Holy Night' sang by a soloist from Opera North and the Staff Choir, 'Raggle Taggle Three Wise Men' sung by the Schools Festival Choir and everyone singing 'Do They Know It's Christmas'.

What a great evening. When Artforms music team does singing it is simply incredible and this evening we saw a great team release a very special magic from some wonderful young people.

Monday, 1 December 2008

The YEP's Xmas Factor!

It's that time again and twenty-one schools from across the city have taken up the challenge...

From today videos of the schools go on-line at You simply visit the site and click on the Xmas Carol Factor button, watch the videos and vote for your favourite.