Saturday, 10 January 2009

"If I were absolutely certain about all things, I would spend my life in anxious misery, fearful of losing my way. But since everything and anything are always possible, the miraculous is always nearby and wonders shall never, ever cease."
Robert Fulghum

The Safer Schools Partnership started the week training twenty four police officers who will be working in our secondary schools as members of the teaching and learning teams. This is a brilliantly creative initiative which will improve outcomes and target and support some of our most vulnerable young people. I visited Parklands Girls High School to talk to the team about the challenges we are facing and the critical importance of a rigorous and relentless focus on securing good outcomes this year with Year 11. I visited Ebor Gardens Primary School to see Kathryn Depledge and her team at this outstanding little school. I visited Roundhay School to be interviewed on BBC News 24 about the Safer Schools project. I was also interviewed by young people about the work we are doing to tackle bullying as part of the Diana Awards and by Rhia Page, one of our students who is doing a media course, about the work we are doing on inclusion. I visited St Francis Catholic Primary School in Morley where Jane Burns and her team are doing great things. I visited Wetherby High School to met with senior colleagues and governors from the school and from Boston Spa School to talk about the opportunities the two schools have to work more closely together. And finally, I attended the feedback session on the self-evaluation initiative the Artforms music team have taken part in, and was delighted that the outcome was that this is a good service with some outstanding features.

After such a busy week in so many brilliant learning places, what we have to do in terms of leading and managing change in our primary schools, our secondary schools, our behavioural provision and the 14 - 19 stuff and at the same time securing brilliant outcomes for all our children and young people becomes clearer. We have to make our colleagues understand that they have enormous potential; that they can do anything, and that the miracles and the magic are commonplace. I remember Lou Tice telling me that people act as they imagine themselves to be and that changing people's attitude was more important than anything else we did. I also recently re-read a study by Cambridge University which looked at the concept of genius and came to a really interesting set of conclusions... success is about 1% inspiration; about 30 % coaching, teaching and support and about 70% sheer hard work. So, it's true that you can be great at almost anything if you are prepared to put in the work and the only thing that is holding you back is your own perceptions of what you are capable of. What's really sad that so many of us have convinced ourselves that we are not clever, intelligent or talented... which is, of course, an excuse not to work hard at being the talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful human being each and everyone of us could be!

This year we must continue to celebrate every achievement however big or small, and work hard to inspire our colleagues in Education Leeds, our colleagues in schools, our young people and our parents and carers. We must work even harder to release the enormous potential that currently lies dormant in our offices, our schools, and our homes and we must create an environment where this incredible potential can flourish, grow and develop.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Creative schools are being sought by Creative Partnerships...

Schools are being looked for to join a two-year project to raise educational standards and develop in young people the skills that employers say they need such as the ability to question, make connections, innovate, problem solve and reflect critically. Schools that secure funding to become ‘Schools of Creativity’ will lead school networks and help to shape policy and practice throughout Creative Partnerships.

Who can apply?
Any maintained school in England can apply - as long as they will not be involved in another Creative Partnerships programme from September 2009.

The newly selected schools will join 30 other ‘Schools of Creativity’ that were selected in 2008 from those that already work with Creative Partnerships.

What is Creative Partnerhsips looking for?
Paul Collard, National Director of Creative Partnerships, said: "We are looking for schools that put creativity at the centre of the student learning. The schools that join the programme will share their unique creative approach so that other schools can learn from their experience. Schools of Creativity will also help Creative Partnerships to shape national policies and good practice.

How does the funding work?
Each school selected from this round will receive £20,000 each year, for two years and a funded education consultant to develop and promote creative learning. Schools will be expected to contribute £5,000 a year to the scheme. ‘Schools of Creativity’ will also receive 15 days support per year of a dedicated creative agent to support partnership building with creative professionals.

When is the deadline and when will schools be announced?
Deadline for submissions is the 6th March 2009. Schools will be selected by a national selection panel, comprising of members of Creative Partnerships and independent education consultants. Successful schools will be announced in early July.

It would be great to see some Leeds schools involved in this exciting initiative.


I attended the feedback session from the moderated self-assessment colleagues at Artforms have been involved in...

The idea is that all music services nationally will complete a self-assessment which will then be subject to moderation by colleagues from other services nationally. Our service was moderated by colleagues from Lancashire and Derbyshire who found that we have a good music service here in Leeds with some outstanding features. The areas they identified as outstanding were:
  • leadership and management;
  • special needs provision;
  • innovation and creativity;
  • partnership working;
  • provision at West Park.
They also helped us by identifying some areas where we need to further develop our practice but overall I was really pleased for Paul Kaiserman and Fiona Pacey who have led the development of our provision and created in Artforms a service we can all be really proud of.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

I was delighted to see that my colleague and friend John Ellard from ICG in Stockholm is still reading my blog and if you are a regular reader of the blog please sign up as a follower...

I do know that lots of colleagues read the blog but I don't get many comments or much feedback. I want to continue to improve and develop the blog so I have added an element that groups together the community that follows my blog. It's dead easy to do and I hope all those avid readers will let me know that they are there and encourage me to keep on blogging!
i visited another wonderful little primary school this afternoon...

I went to St Francis Catholic Primary School in Morley where Jane Burns, the headteacher, and her colleagues are working with some wonderful young people. It was a real pleasure to walk around the school with Jane who has clearly had a real impact since she arrived at the school in September last year. The childrens behaviour, confidence and enthusiasm are real strengths at this little primary school and I am looking forward to seeing photographs of the pyramid the children promised to make for me as part of their work on Egypt.

This is a school with real potential and I am looking forward to my next visit.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

My colleague Pete Thurlow, Area Manager within the Education Leeds School Improvement Service sent me this e-mail...

"Chris, I thought I'd email you to let you know about an excellent project which completed just before Christmas- this was Windmill Primary School, who partnered with South Leeds CLC on a 'Handheld Learning' programme. We did some INSET work with the school then lent them a class set of Nintendo DS consoles so their Year 6 students could practice their mental maths skills using the 'Dr Kawashimi's Brain Training' software. The school benchmarked the children's attainment at the start of the programme using SAT test materials, and then used the DS consoles as a maths starter activity every day for six weeks. On retesting, it was found that the childrens' average mental maths capability had improved by 51%. What's more, I have a set of thankyou letters from the children saying how much they'd enjoyed themselves! The project is set to repeat with Middleton Primary next week, and then Ingram Road in March-April as part of their build towards SATs. Regards Pete."

It's great to hear about brilliant initiatives like this and the impact they are having.


I also met with Rhia Page, a media student...

As part of her course, Rhia wanted to interview me about inclusion, how schools are changing to become more inclusive and our plans for the future to include more children with special educational needs into mainstream education.
I moved on to the West Park Centre to have lunch with the Artforms team...

It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to this brilliant group of colleagues who have achieved so much over the last few years and reached so many schools and young people. In many of these schools the arts have a very special place within the curriculum and reach parts that other elements of the curriculum fail to touch. The arts build teamwork, listening skills, creativity and imagination within a coaching and learning culture where persistence, determination and hard work are the keys to excellence.

The arts impact on all aspects of learning in a school where colleagues are passionate about the potential of dance, drama and music to release the magic and the Artforms team are brilliant and enthusiastic advocates of a more holistic curriculum model where every child and every young person has a fundamental entitlement to the arts.

I sometimes wonder why we do what we do here in Leeds but spending time with great colleagues reminds me why I am here. It also makes me more sure that we need to passionate and completely believe in what we are doing and why we are doing it. As I said to the Artforms team if you are not enthused, inspired and motivated by what you are doing go and do something else which releases your magic because this work is too important and too critical to the future success of our great city.
I moved on to Roundhay School for an interview with Chief Inspector Mark Milsom...

Mark and I were at the school for a BBC News 24 interview about our partnership work which is taking our Safer Schools Partnership work to a new and really exciting level. We have recruited a team of 24 police officers to work with our 38 secondary schools. These police colleagues will work alongside school colleagues to support programmes on citizenship, PSHE, personal safety and weapons and drugs awareness. These police officers will also be available to work with targeted young people and tackle issues around truancy, exclusion and anti-social behaviour.

We hope that this brilliant initiative will build even stronger links with West Yorkshire Police and will help our young people develop confidence and resilience, overcome some of the issues around their safety and well-being and for a small minority help steer them away from offending.
I started the day early at Ebor Gardens Primary School...

I arrived to meet Kathryn Depledge, the headteacher. I went to the fantastic breakfast club which was buzzing and the toast was really good. Then I took part in an intense session of activity with Years 3, 4 and 5 along the lines of our 'Wake Up and Shake Up' programme. The session was fabulous and the children had a really energetic and enthusiastic work out. Kathryn then gave me a guided tour where I met some of her wonderful children and some of her talented colleagues.

The things that make Ebor Gardens Primary School so good are...

  • focused and passionate leadership;
  • a team of talented, energetic, enthusiastic and creative individuals;
  • a rich, creative and skills based curriculum;
  • a bright, stimulating and interesting learning environment;
  • inspiring teaching and learning within a nurturing climate;
  • tracking of children's progress and achievements;
  • early, appropriate and focused interventions.

This is a brilliant learning place with a wonderful learning environment and an excellent team with enormous potential. Kathryn Depledge is leading a great school and a great team who are releasing a very special kind of magic.


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I received this post from my colleague Jacqui Straker...

"Hi Chris. Very interested and pleased to see your comments re leadership and looking after yourself and colleagues. As a Governor of 6 years I have viewed supporting the Head and SMT as one of the major parts of my role. However, I was disappointed to learn today of the lack of support from Education Leeds for a Head of 15 years who is retiring from the role. The transition from working what must amount to more than 12 hours a day to potentially nothing is a very difficult one, particularly for a dedicated individual such as the person I have in mind. Perhaps you could look into putting a programme in place which offers practical guidance, (e.g. part-time opportunities) and reassures staff who have given their all to the education of the children of Leeds, that they are not abandoned as soon as they indicate their intention to take a well earned rest. Yours, Jacqui Straker."

I am pleased that Jacqui has raised this with me because we do not intentionally abandon anyone who works with us and for us and if this is Jacqui's perceptions of the way we work with colleagues coming to the end of their school career we need to do something about it. We have extensive programmes in place which I thought offered advice, practical guidance and support for colleagues and I would welcome knowing whether this lack of support is a more common perception rather than a single individual experience.

Monday, 5 January 2009

I received these photos from the Education Leeds party today...

CATEGORY: Looking after Leeds: WINNER: Eve McLeish and the VI team.

CATEGORY: Treating people fairly: WINNER: Peter Saunders

CATEGORY: Putting customers first: WINNER: Dev Phull and the Operations service.

CATEGORY: Health and Wellbeing: WINNER: The Health Initiatives team

CATEGORY: Personal Achievement: WINNER: Kaya Barker

CATEGORY: Colleague of the year: WINNER: Sally Bavage
CATEGORY: Leader of the Year: WINNER: Anne Lomas
CATEGORY: Team of the year: WINNER: The BSF team
Those colleagues who weren't there missed a great evening.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Happy New Year

Welcome back to what looks like being another interesting year…

This is going to be another year full of opportunities for those of us who believe we can continue to make a difference, continue to deliver brilliant outcomes and continue to change the world. It is important that we all understand that this begins with leadership. We can’t be great at what we do unless we feel great about ourselves. We can’t be the source of positivity and support unless we are positive and optimistic about ourselves and the future. We must enjoy ourselves while we chase success; we must look after ourselves; we must read good books and be inspired; we must continue to learn and continue to improve and develop our talents, our abilities and our skills.

We must be optimistic and remember these key messages so that we nurture the magic, develop the creative edge, foster imagination and keep all our colleagues happy, healthy, safe and successful… whatever it takes.
  • In case you’ve forgotten the key messages:
  • focus and work hard;
  • take personal responsibility;
  • read lots and learn from everything you do;
  • celebrate other people’s achievements and always say thank you;
  • share your experiences, your learning and your successes;
  • reduce the paper and clean up the clutter;
  • always think about how you can make a difference;
  • be positive, don’t put up with negative people or dwell on the negatives; and
  • never lie about anything important.

And when the going gets tough and the challenges seem impossible:

  • look after yourself and your colleagues;
  • spend time with positive and optimistic colleagues;
  • smile, laugh at life and search for ways to have fun;
  • breathe deeply, stretch and exercise regularly;
  • get enough sleep and take regular breaks;
  • appreciate what you have; and
  • celebrate everything that goes well.

Happy New Year