Thursday, 22 October 2009

This evening I was invited to Hunslet Moor Primary School's 'One World Charity Dinner'...

Year 6 children had set up the enterprise company, Events 'R' Us "We Make It Happen"and with £100 had designed, arranged, managed and delivered an evening of inspiration, enterprise, the arts, great food and it was simply magic. We had african dancing, bollywood dancing, brilliant singers and fabulous food. We also had brief speeches by Dorothy Smith and I.

It was a wonderful evening and the children were fantastic and certainly did the school proud.
More Leeds schools have achieved the top national environmental award...

I heard today that three Leeds schools involved in Groundwork's Green Check programme have been awarded a national green award which recognises their actions to help reduce their impact on the environment. The schools are Otley The Whartons Primary School, Calverley Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School and Park Spring Primary School who have all achieved the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) status after demonstrating their green credentials. Congratulations to these schools and the colleagues involved.

It's time to back young Britain

'Backing young Britain' is bringing businesses and public and voluntary sectors together to ensure that the valuable skills and experience of our young people aren't being wasted...

Tapping into the enthusiasm and potential of young people will be vital as we start to move out of recession so we need to give them the chance to flourish. Most are keen to work and just need that first break. And if they get it, they'll pour their ambition and motivation into your school, your business, your community. Giving a young person their break can mean that you:
  • Address skills gaps;
  • Access a range of Government support;
  • Provide a workforce for the future;
  • Send a positive message to the local community.

Although times are tough, we can all play a part. The Government are asking schools, businesses and community organisations to commit to one or more of the following:

  • Offer volunteer places or become a volunteer mentor for school or university leavers;
  • Provide work experience opportunities;
  • Offer internships to graduates, 18 year olds and non-graduates;
  • Consider a young person for a job through a work trial;
  • Supply apprenticeship opportunities for 16-24 year olds;
  • Bid for one of the 100,000 jobs for young people from the Future Jobs Fund;
  • Engage in a Local Employment Partnership.

If you want to find out more about the things that you can do to help visit the 'Backing young Britain' website at


And another thing...

We were at the 'Widening the Talent Pool' Race of Opportunity Awards 2009 last night. Education Leeds was shortlisted in the 'Collaboration and Partnership' section along with the British Army, Deloitte LLP, Deutsche Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The award was for a collaborative programme or work aimed at addressing equality, diversity and inclusion with a focus on race.

The judging panel said that "This was an outstanding category with a number of great examples of how businesses are leading the way and making partnerships work. Businesses working together in partnership with further education and government policy makers and providing a real opportunity for greater impact in tackling inequality."

Our partnership project 'Refugees into Teaching' Network Project was highly commended and reflects more brilliant work by colleagues.

The project is a collaboration with the Refugee Education and Training Advisory Service and has supported over 90 refugees to create visible role models from different culture in our classrooms. Congratulations to everyone involved!
I received some more good news this lunchtime...

Now in its 6th Year, the Social Enterprise Yorkshire and the Humber awards aim to celebrate and recognise the achievements of social entrepreneurs in the region. Sponsored by Business Link, the 'Social Enterprise in Yorkshire and the Humber' Awards provide a platform for Social Enterprises to showcase themselves and their achievements, culminating in an awards dinner which was held last night at Doncaster Racecourse. There were five award categories:
  • Start up of the Year
  • Social Enterprise in Education
  • Innovation in Enterprise
  • Social Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Social Enterprise of the Year
Bruntcliffe High School has been sweeping the board with its work on enterprise and last night they won the 'Social Enterprise in Education' Award. The judges were looking for outstanding examples of businesses that are delivering real social impact and competing effectively in a commercial market so this is a great achievement by the team at Bruntcliffe High School.

If you want to find out more about these awards or about Business Link you can visit their website at
I started the day early at Allerton Grange High School with a small group of headteachers who chair the Families of Schools meetings...

I wanted to talk to colleagues about the issues, the opportunities and the challenges facing us over the next couple of years around budget, 21st Century Schools, Children's Services, OFSTED and the elections. And our need to focus on building brilliant universal provision while dealing with increasing primary numbers, primary and secondary standards, the National Challenge schools, attendance, behaviour and special educational needs. I wanted to stress the importance of people, partnerships and relationships as we work to take advantage of the opportunities this huge agenda and the rapidly changing landscape will bring.

The Family of Schools chairs are an amazing group of colleagues doing brilliant work with children and families against a background of worklessness, poverty, disadvantage and ill-health in our increasingly highly mobile and complex communities... always remember that 25% of our children live in the 10% worst and most deprived bits of the country. We talked about the characteristics of brilliant provision and how schools could maintain their focus on standards with so many intiatives, so many pots of money to chase, so many consultants and experts, OFSTED and DCSF expecting so much more and so much constant change. We agreed that the key is to maintain a focus on quality and to nurture passion, enthusiasm, determination, persistence and patience while being able to phone a friend when help was needed. We talked about the importance of developing confident, self-critical and reflective practitioners who understood the learning process and working positively with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to support families and build healthier and more sustainable communities.

We talked about the many challenges we all face but what was deeply encouraging was that, alongside their passionate commitment to their children, there was a total focus on ensuring that their children were exposed to rigorous, pacey and brilliant teaching to ensure that as far as possible they all became literate, numerate and had the necessary social and emotional skills to succeed. It was a brilliant start to the day with some great colleagues and 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 and the need to be more creative and more collaborative 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.
I received this wonderful e-mail this morning...

"Hi Chris, I have just returned home from what I can only describe as an awesome inspirational talk that I have had the privilege to be party to for some time. I attended the introductory talk about the Education Leeds commitment to 'Changing the face (and heart) of educational leadership in Leeds schools i.e.: Investing in Diversity. I attended the meeting tonight with ( what I realise now ) a hint of cynicism. I hoped that the evening was not going to be yet another repeat of the same message that we have heard so many times over the years! ( we need more Black and Global Majority teachers, senior leaders etc etc...) Dorothy Smith introduced Rosemary Campbell -Stephens as an inspirational and motivational speaker, that, however didn't do her full justice. Rosemary , gave a clear, realistic, no nonsense talk about the potential value, of the contributions that BGM leaders can make to Education Leeds, our schools, our communities and most importantly our children! I have been so inspired by the evening that I will be putting my name forward to become a 'Transformational Leader' of the future. Can I thank Education Leeds on investing in what appears to be a programme that will hopefully result in changing the face, heart and soul of Education Leeds Leaders in the near future! Kauser Jan, Assistant Head (Middle Phase) at Bankside Primary School."

It's great to get feedback like this from colleagues who understand the critical importance of values, beliefs and attitudes shaping provision and changing the face, heart and soul of leadership here in Leeds.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

I was on my way to Carr Manor High School Sports College...

I wanted to talk to Simon Flowers,headteacher, about the progress the school was making, the challenges they face with the National Challenge and hear from Simon what we can do to help the school continue to improve and develop to become really brilliant learning place. What is always impressive about visiting the school is the focus on behaviour and discipline as well as teaching and learning. Simon and his team have achieved something quite remarkable when you understand the community the school serves and we must all 'think team' to help Simon continue to drive up outcomes.
I moved on to the Elmete Centre...

What always strikes me when I visit the Centre is the quality of the people. Whether we are talking about Extended Services, School Improvement or National Strategies, it's great to talk and even better to listen and try to understand better the challenges and the opportunities we face going forward. These are the people who make Education Leeds the success it is and their intelligence, analysis and insights have helped schools across Leeds achieve some outstanding outcomes.
I started the day at the Blenheim Centre...

What always strikes me when I visit the Centre is the intelligence, analysis and insights these colleagues have working with some of the most special children we gave here in Leeds. Whether we are talking about Educational Psychologists, the Visually Impaired team, the Parent Partnership team or the Early Years team, it's great to talk and even better to listen and try to understand better the challenges and the opportunities we face going forward.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

I spent this evening with Governor Forum...

I wanted to talk to these colleagues about the major issues facing us over the next couple of years:
  • Budget;
  • Children's Services;
  • 21st Century Schools;
  • Elections.

And our need to focus on the issues around:

  • Primary Numbers
  • Primary Standards;
  • Secondary standards;
  • National Challenge schools;
  • Special Educational Needs;
  • Attendance; and
  • Behaviour.

We know that the strategic leadership of schools across the city rests with our governing bodies and that we should establish our own curriculum framework and outcomes framework to develop greater local ownership along with a focus on creativity, enterprise, discipline and responsibility. We must continue to think team, share what works and ensure that every child is a reader and can count by eight, every child sings, dances and plays and is a brilliant little learner by eleven and every young person is on a pathway to success and achieves their potential by eighteen... whatever it takes!

I received this e-mail from Ken Monkman, our Regional Adviser at the Training & Development Agency for Schools...

"Hi Chris, A number of your colleagues and students from Leeds attended a TDA governance review meeting in Manchester today and I wanted you to know how impressive they all were.
Angela Bailey from Extended Services and Liz Jones from Brigshaw accompanied four young people; Sam Hodgson, Stephen Carter, Olivia Tarpey, Charlotte Wallis, to the meeting and all gave superb presentations demonstrating the impact of extended services in the city. Both adults and students alike proved to be great ambassadors for Leeds, and their inputs impressed not only senior colleagues from the TDA, but the DCSF also. We are extremely grateful to them all for taking the time to showcase the excellent work you are all doing. Regards, Ken."

It is great to get such positive feedback from Ken and to have colleagues and young people being such brilliant ambassadors on a regional and national stage for the brilliant work we are doing.


Success at the Link2Learn Awards!

Three schools and Education Leeds have been commended by the British Council for successful partnership work with international schools...

Cookridge Primary School was commended in the primary school category of the Link2Learn awards while Karen Kershaw, of Bramley Primary School, and Liz Merriman from Brigshaw High School, were commended in the international coordinators category. Education Leeds was commended for its work to promote international learning in schools across the city.

The annual awards celebrate excellence and innovation in international school partnerships and the three schools and Education Leeds had to submit information about their work and highlight the impact it has on the international curriculum in schools. This success really illustates the brilliant work that is going on with international links and the global curriculum and it is wonderful to see Cookridge Primary School, Karen Kershaw and Liz Merriman receiving these commendations for their fantastic work.
Those of you who know me well know that I love art and children's art in particular. I was delighted to discover that colleagues from Lower Wortley Primary School visited us today to redo the displays in the Education Leeds Board Room...

I often talk about the WOW factor and colleagues releasing the magic but these amazingly talented colleagues have achieved some quite remarkable work with eight, nine, ten and eleven year olds at Lower Wortley Primary School. If they can produce work like this so young what will they be able to do when they they get bigger! Their work has transformed the Board Room into something quite extraordinary. If you get the chance pop in and be amazed!
I met Sheena Pickersgill, Director of Corporate Services at West Yorkshire Integrated Passenger Authroity (Metro) this morning...

Sheena let me have a copy of The Case for Free Travel for Young People in West Yorkshire which spells out the current social, economic and environmental costs to society of limited accessibility for young people to transport services, the benefits of addressing these barriers and the business case for the provision of free travel through an assessment of the costs and benfits of such provision. This is something we should all be supporting.
I started the day early at the Leeds Skills Board meeting at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, home of the wonderful and world class Leeds Rhinos...

It was great to listen to the quality of the debate and the passion, enthusiasm and commitment as we discussed the agenda for improved economic performance, the impact of the recession on the Leeds labour market and the new arrangements for skills funding across the Leeds City Region. We also briefly touched on the Future Jobs Fund, Foundation Learning and 14 - 19 Diplomas.

The most interesting part of the debate was the constant reference to education, schools and learning as keys to everything we are trying to do to secure the future of Leeds. Everyone who spoke recognised the challenges, the opportunities and the importance of diversity, flexibility, innovation, creativity and enterprise. Everyone recognised that learning was at the heart of all our work and that a shared and powerful vision of the future, strong and highly effective leadership and the uniqueness of Leeds need to be established, recognised, celebrated and shouted from the rooftops.

Monday, 19 October 2009

I received this e-mail from Karen Turner our Deaf and Hearing Impaired Team Leader...

"Dear Chris, Well..what can I say...I know I am a week late but a huge thank you to everyone who helped make the 10th October Family Fun Day at Weetwood Hall such a massive success... I have to say the 'Buzz' was contagious though much of the day was a blur to me!!! I will be putting together a summary of the event which I will distribute to you very soon and I will make sure I let you know exactly how many children and families attended and where we go from here!! The bit though I am able to tell you now, is that on the day we raised £880 for the DAHIT childrens fund, Since the Day we have had a very Kind Donation of £120 from Joan Haines to make the amount up to £1000 and then another donation from Sallie's mum of £20. So all in all a hugely successful event ...lots of great feedback from parents and workshop providers too...I'll include all the feedback in the summary so you can see who has said what. I will be in touch soon with a full and complete round up of the day. Karen."

It is wonderful to be reminded of some of the incredible things our talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues get up to at the weekends!


"Intelligence plus character - that is the true goal of education"
Martin Luther King
I met with Kathryn Burns, Chief Executive of '360 People' this morning...

"It is not that young people do not have aspirations. It is not that they do not have talent. To coin a phrase, Britain's got talent - lots of it. It is not ability that is unevenly distributed in our society. It is opportunity."
'Unleashing Aspiration' Alan Milburn

360 People was established by Mick Waters supported by Tim Brighouse and aims to support young people, organisations and communities by establishing a structure for promoting individual responsibility and accomplishment for all young people. The scheme aims to empower young people and challenge the stereotype that experience equals effective individuals and leadership.The 360 People team have worked with young people to identify the characteristics required to develop 'active citizens':


  • Belief;
  • Courage;
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Prepared;
  • Leading;
  • Choices.


  • Relate;
  • Balance;
  • Co-operation.


  • Consistent;
  • Flexible;
  • Completing.

Kathryn wants to come to Leeds to run a session to show how this model works in practice. I'll be talking to colleagues about how we can do this. If you want to know more you can visit their website at www.


I started the day with Peter Roberts, Chief Executive and Principal, of the new Leeds City College...

Peter and I have agreed that we should meet on a reasonable regular basis to ensure that we work closely together with Leeds City College on pathways to success for all our young people, the 14 - 19 agenda, diplomas and apprenticeships, provision for students with disabilities and learning difficulties and the skills agenda. It was encouraging to talk to Peter about Leeds City College connecting with Education Leeds on this huge agenda. Peter an his colleagues hsare our passion, commitment, enthusiasm and desire to to narrow the gap and go up a league with learning here in Leeds.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Last week was one of those weeks when I go from meeting to meeting and find it hard to see the difference it makes. The great thing, however, is that you meet wonderfully talented people at these meetings... people who are doing things, creating things, changing things, making a difference and challenging the assumptions we all make about what is possible...

On Monday, I met colleagues from Hangzhou in China who were visiting their partner schools and were really impressed with our learning environments and our focus on teaching and learning. On Tuesday, I attended the corporate leadership team away-day at Farnley Hall where we looked at the budget issues and challenges facing us over the next year. At lunchtime I managed to pop out to join colleagues at Bramley Shopping centre to launch the Bramley Schools Stephen Lawrence Education Standard. At the end of the day I attended the DCSF/British Council event at the Civic Hall, celebrating the success our schools have had with the International Schools Award. On Wednesday, the Education Leeds board visited Swallow Hill Community College for their monthly meeting, and I then attended executive board to gain approval for: the consultation on the expansion of fifteen primary schools; and the closure of City of Leeds, Parklands and Primrose High schools to be replaced by two Academies and a 14 - 19 Centre. On Thursday, I attended the Leeds Strategic Plan strategy group at the Carriageworks, before Professor Stephen Parkinson and I attended leader management team to discuss the key challenges we are facing with the two leaders of Leeds City Council. On Friday, I attended leadership forum at the West Park Centre to talk to colleagues, before moving on to Weetwood Hall to talk to the secondary headteachers, finally going to the Thorpe Park Hotel for meeting of the Leeds skills board with Phil Willis MP who chairs the Commons Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills.

I know I am incredibly lucky that I work in an organisation where people, partnerships and relationships are central to everything we do, and weeks like this remind me that we need to focus on improving communications and listening to colleagues' feedback so that everyone is clear: why we are doing what we are doing; that we are responsive to criticism, ideas and alternatives; and that we value colleagues' contributions and viewpoints. And it's true, you know, that you get back what you give away... smile and the world smiles with you... laugh and the world laughs with you... compliment people and the compliments come flooding back... trust people and they repay you by the bucketload. Sadly some people haven't a clue about this and they simply let their own limitations and frustrations get in the way. We must all remember that good communication lies at the heart of our success and it's true that being positive helps colleagues to be their brilliant and outstanding best.

These are some of the things I have learnt about leading successfully... we must:
  • always try to see the bigger picture;
  • always be as positive as possible;
  • always share ideas and problems;
  • always tell the truth;
  • always listen carefully to what is being said;
  • always smile whatever happens;
  • always go the extra mile; and
  • always say thank you.