Thursday, 7 May 2009

I finished the day at the Lord Mayor's Charity Event in aid of Andrea's Gift...

It was an evening with members of Opera North at the Civic Hall to raise money for his important Yorkshire based charity which is raising money for research into brain tumours.

Andrea’s Gift's focus is to raise funds to develop long-term research projects into adult and paediatric brain tumours, and to provide a level of support for patients and carers in their very personal battles with the disease. The charity aims to raise £1m by 2010, having raised over £700,000 so far, and the evening was to help them to achieve this target.


I moved on to Aberford CE Primary School...

I was there to see Jo Heggie, the headteacher, who is doing a great job at this tiny little school on the edge of Leeds. Jo has been at the school for just over four terms and her enthusiasm, energy and commitment are refreshing. But then again who would't be passionate about what is possible at this small village primary school.
My colleague Stuart Myers, headteacher at Whingate Primary School, sent me this....

"Chris, In the Sunday Times at the weekend there was a feature on the big changes in 1989 and the impact these have had on the last 20 years. I was appointed to my first headship at Kirkstall in 1989. I have certainly seen some changes in schools since then!
I imagine you still get plenty of complaining e-mails, so just thought I would let you know that Whingate is a great school to learn and work and I am enjoying Headship now more than ever - even after doing this sort of thing for 20 years! All the best. Stuart"

I am constantly amazed by my colleagues. Hard to believe that Stuart has been a headteacher for 20 years and more importantly that he is enjoying headship more than ever! It is easy to moan about our work but we have seen such enormous changes over the last twenty years and the learning landscape for our children has been transformed. It is of course the best job in the world and the difference colleagues like Stuart are making across Leeds is simply wonderful.

The future's bright, the future is at Whingate in the morning... which after all is why Stuart and his colleagues are there!
My colleague Steve Ruse, our Sustainable Schools Consultant sent me this about work going on at Humslet Moor Primary School...

"Hi Chris, This was a half-page article in Friday nights YEP. Hunslet Moor PS is a pathfinder sustainable school doing some really great work thanks to class teacher Hannah Darley (Sustainable Schools Representative) and Headteacher Narinder Gill. Paul Hudson was really good again."

As a school we will be working together, over 10 weeks, to collect 2,500 ‘green’ points by July 2009. Individuals will be given a ‘carbon footprint’ log book to record their contribution towards this total. Each person will be aiming to collect at least 10 points. If school achieves this target we will benefit from a £5000 reward from the business Sheffield Insulation Group (SIG). Individuals earn points through completing ‘evidence based homework tasks’ that require children to carry out a ‘green’ action of their choice either at home or within the community. The number of points rewarded for each task depends on the nature of the action. e.g. if a child makes sure no lights are on in empty rooms for a week, they will collect 1 point. If they collect and recycle all paper and card for a week they will gain 3 points. Children will be asked to ‘evidence’ their actions through recording them in their own ‘carbon footprint’ log book. For some children this may simply be a parent/ carers signature recognizing that their child has carried out the action. However, children will be encouraged to make their own weekly entry into their log to explain and illustrate their ‘green’ action for the week. Once children have carried out, evidenced and shared their log with their class teacher, they will be rewarded with a set number of points marked on their ‘carbon footprint’ card. Class teachers will be asked to record the total number of points collected by their class on a weekly basis. Eco council will collect these totals and share them, along with the whole schools ongoing total during Fridays ‘Achievement’ assemblies. The schools ongoing total will be displayed in the hall.' Regards Steve."

There is some great work going on at Hunslet Moor and at schools across Leeds to build sustainable environmentally friendly schools and it is great to hear about it and the work that Paul Hudson is doing.
After this morning's breakfast meeting and yesterday's visit to Beechwood Primary School and their 'Magical Garden' I am more certain that we need to develop a project around a garden or allotment in every school where young people grow their own fruit and vegatables...

This needs to connect together the following:
  • diplomas and apprenticeships;
  • intergenerational work;
  • Groundworks;
  • Parks and Countryside colleagues;

This is a unique opportunity to get all our children growing, cooking and eating their own fruit and vegeatbles.


I started the day early at Pudsey Civic Hall with the Pudsey Family of Schools headteachers...

This was a great group of colleagues and it would be very interesting to add up the years of experience in the room and to build on the understanding of and insights into the real issues we are facing. We celebrated the end of the Key Stage 2 Science SATs next year andtalked about the characteristics of brilliant provision and how schools could maintain their focus with too many intiatives, too many pots of money to chase, too many consultants and experts and too much constant change.

We talked about the importance of confident, self-critical and reflective practitioners who understood the learning process and were working positively with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to build healthier and more sustainable communities. We talked about confident, passionate and dynamic leaders who had a clear view of what was needed to drive change and achieve that step change in outcomes we all want to see. outcomes not simply measured in terms of Level 4 at Key Stage 2 or 5 A*-C Grades at GCSE .

We talked about aspiration and attainment and how we rebuild hope in communities. We need to do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more. We talked about the challenges that lie ahead with public sector budget cuts and the need to work more creatively and more collaboratively and to stop the merry go round of meetings, bureaucracy and things that made no difference to children and families and focus on those we know do.
It's great to talk.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

I finished the day at the Leeds Ahead Annual Conference...

The Conference 'Unlocking the City's Potential' was at The Rose Bowl at Leeds Metropolitan University. It featured Stephanie Burras, Chief Executive of Leeds Ahead, who celebrated Leeds Ahead's year with case studies including the 'World of Work' project at Ingram Road Primary School. The keynote speaker was Gerald Ratner, entrepreneur, who talked about his successes and failures and what he had learnt. It was a stimulating and interesting evening at the end of a great day!
I moved on to an Education Leeds recruitment event for secondary trainee teachers in shortage subjects...

I had been asked by my colleague Rachael Dearns to welcome these young potential colleagues. The trainee teachers were able to attend subject-specific workshops, learn about current vacancies, hear about our building programme and about Leeds. They were also given the opportunity to meet our teaching supply agencies and some headteachers and colleagues from schools.

Rachael and the team had organised a really special event to target specific shortage areas. I hope that it means that we can recruit some brilliant new colleagues to join us in September.
I moved on to Garforth Green Lane Primary School...

I had been invited to the school for some photographs for the School Partnership Trust's publicity and Tammy Prince, headteacher at this great little primary school, had kindly agreed that her school could provide the background for the photographs. I hope that the hundreds of photographs provide some good material for the Trust to use.
I started the day early at Beechwood Primary School...

I had been invited by my colleague John Beckett, headteacher at this great little primary school, to see their new nursery and their 'Magical Garden'. It was wonderful to start the day at Beechwood Primary School and to meet John's team.

It was really good to be able to talk to John and to walk around the school with John to visit classrooms and see some of the wonderful teaching and learning going on in this little oasis of learning. John and his team have achieved something really remarkable for this community.

The new nursery is a fantastic addition to the school and the 'Magical Garden' is simply brilliant.There are 35 'Magical Gardens' at Children's Centres here in Leeds. They have been developed by Melanie Poulson working with Ian Chadwick from the Parks and Countryside Service. Ian and his colleagues have worked with Melanie to help her create these very special learning resources. It is quite amazing how this team have turned bland areas of tarmac into simply magical areas for our youngest children. Every school should have one!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I received some more information about the International Inspirations programme from my colleague Andrew Hodkinson, principal at West Oaks NE SILC...

"Dear Chris, Thanks for the mention on your blog today regarding our partnership work through the "International Inspirations" programme. It is an honour to be asked to join the 2012 programme as the only Special School representative. Our involvement can only strengthen our strong partnership with Boston Spa High School. To add a global perspective and challenge attitudes to Inclusion and Disability in a country like Bangladesh will be rewarding but challenging I am sure. Equally positive is the invite West Oaks (NE SILC) has had to attend a High Performing Specialism event in London tomorrow to celebrate our recent acquisition of our recent HPSS option of Applied Learning. The £90,000 annual funding it attracts will also ensure we develop the Foundation Learning Tier and guarantee work placements for our students. Also, I have received notification this week that we have also been granted " SSAT Consultant School" accreditation status. This process has been developed to formally acknowledge our contribution to system leadership and transforming learning by being a Centre of Excellence. Particularly encouraging is the recognition we have received from the SSAT for our Leading Edge work and outreach work within Children Leeds North East through Rainbow and Project 22. Although quietly going about our work with our young people we constantly strive to do more! Best wishes, Andrew."

The transformation we have seen to the SILC estate over the last few years has been simply amazing. Brilliant colleagues at West Oaks have set high standards and proved that young people with special needs can achieve outstanding outcomes.


I received this e-mail from my colleague Chris Walsh, headteacher at Boston Spa School...

"Dear Chris, Thank you for highlighting our work in Bangladesh. I know that you have to edit emails for your blog, but it was a disappointment that you missed out mention of the West Oaks involvement. Not only is their involvement a great example of partnership working in Leeds, but it allows us to give a lead throughout the International Inspirations programme on inclusive practice. Our intention is that through the joint approaches of the two Leeds schools we can give equal emphasis, and hence impact, to both the traditional and parallel Olympics events. Chris"

I apologise to colleagues at West Oaks SILC, who add so much value to everything they get involved with.
After my visit to Shadwell Primary School last week, Zoe Pickard the Year 4 Teacher sent me this e-mail and this great photograph...

"Hello Chris, Please find attached the picture of you and our journalists. They really enjoyed interviewing you and will send you a copy in summer 2 when it is produced. Thanks, Zoe."

Thanks Zoe, I'll look forward to reading the article.


Monday, 4 May 2009

It has been an exceptional week involving unique, extraordinary and exceptional people and places...

I started the week with some wonderful colleagues from Vaxjo in southern Sweden, the greenest city in Europe, who were here to see some of the best of learning in Leeds. I went on to listen to Lou Tice launch The Pacific Institute's brilliant new 'PX2' materials targeting 14 to 19 year olds. I opened the third 'The Store' event at West Park which was an extraordinary showcase and celebration of what the arts in Leeds can offer our children and young people. I talked about brilliant learning in brilliant learning places at an event for the senior leadership team from Liverpool City Council who were spending a day here. I presented the Education Award at the University of Leeds Student Volunteering Awards, an event recognising the outstanding contribution these young people make here in the city. I also fitted in a visit to Shadwell Primary School, an outstanding little primary school where Sue Pyatt and her colleagues are releasing the magic with some wonderful young people.

Colleagues from Vaxjo and Liverpool were blown away by what they saw and heard about learning in Leeds, our brilliant learning places and by the extraordinary people they met. I saw it again and again last week at Shadwell Primary School, at the University of Leeds and at The Store. We are blessed with some uniquely talented, extraordinary individuals who are doing great things and achieving brilliant outcomes. It's true you know, to be extraordinary we need to learn to focus; to focus on one or two things and to commit to them over a period of time.

So, if your goal is to become outstanding, take a careful look at how you are spending your time and focus, focus, focus. Chris

Sunday, 3 May 2009

I am particularly interested in how we promote and further develop self-esteem, self-efficacy and behavioural change. The latest edition of 'Social and Emotional Learning Update' contains two articles about some brilliant work in Leeds...

Mary Strode who heads up the primary work on SEAL has written about creative approaches to the learning and teaching of social and emotional skills working with Arttforms and local arts companies. The CPD programme has been a building block for the development of SEAL in Leeds and is being further developed with both primary and secoindary schools.

George Bramley, Sam Hodgson and Richard Gray, students at Brigshaw High School, have written about their peer mentoring projct supporting a group of Year 6/7 boys at risk of underachievement. The impact and success of the project has led to it being further developed in the school.

It is great to see outstanding work in Leeds showcased like this. You can find out more about these articles and the publication by visiting their website at