Saturday, 6 February 2010

My colleague Helen Plimmer, PE Adviser, sent me this bit of good news...

"Hi Chris, Just a quick note to let you know that Spirit Alive gained the "Inspire Mark" so we have been recognised as part of the London 2012 programme. Spirit Alive is a programme led by Education Leeds that signs up schools in Leeds and challenges their pupils to organise their own ‘mini’ Games, including opening and closing ceremonies. By 2012 the programme aims to have signed up every school in Leeds, inspiring some 50,000 children to take part! See you soon. Regards, Helen."

This is another great initiative developed by colleagues and further developed by our schools using it to engage all young people through an enterprising approach to a school based mini-olympics so that everyone can be involved.

Friday, 5 February 2010

The final session at the Summit focused on the role of community in delivering public services...

Charlie Leadbeater, from Participle and Nesta, talked about the importance of working with not doing to the public. He argued that we need to be careful which questions we ask about the services we provide because the questions we ask determine the answers we get. It is important to understand that where you stand determines what you see and whatever we do we need to look at the big picture and importantly look sideways. We need to understand that if you frame the questions you ask as delivery challenges, you don't solve the problems. What we need to do is to see our issues as creativity challenges. We need to rethink so that:
  • needs become capabilities;
  • targeted becomes open to all;
  • financial focus becomes whole resource focus;
  • centralised solutions become distributed solutions;
  • individuals become relationships.

A really different way of looking at the challenges we face.


The next session asked what will a post recession public sector look like...

Phillip Blond, Director of ResPublica, argued that alongside commissioning, contracting out and decommissioning we needed to move to civic ownership of services. That we need to develop a stakeholding culture to create a more decentralised, more pluralistic state. He felt that the choice was for a painful reconstruction or an opportunity to:
  • remould the state to enhance the role of communities;
  • unleash the enthusiasm, flexibility and entrepreneurial flair of public sector workers;
  • increase procurement of services from social enterprises;
  • move away from restrictive commissioning models which limit creativity, innovation and personalisation.

Phillip felt that the time was right for bottom up social enterprises and top down civic companies.

Abdool Kara, Chief Executive of Swale Borough Council, argued that we need to grasp the opportunities that ICT present to create new relationships that enable choice, voice and personalisation. That we need to support self-service and co-production of services to develop a culture of hand up not hand out but with a safety net for those who need it. Abdool argued that we need to intelligently explore alternatives which deliver outcomes more efficiently and more effectively.



It's the second day of 'The Guardian Public Services Summit 2010' at The Grove, Chadler's Cross in Hertfordshire. The theme of the conference is 'getting through but getting better' at this two day summit exploring the need for innovation and a new way of working across the public services...

The first session of the day focused on what people value in the public sector and Mike Freer, former leader of the London Borough of Barnet, talked about their 'Easy Council' approach to public services. He highlighted the fact that satisfaction with services was declining while services have never been better. Because expectations of public services was higher we need to maintain a focus on efficiency but need more radical innovation. We need to accept the challenge of 'Total Place' and join up our services around families and residents but we also need to change behaviours. His key principles were:
  • a new relationship with citizens;
  • a one public sector approach;
  • a relentless drive for efficiency.

We need to understand that we don't necessarily know best and we must allow citizens to challenge the way services are delivered recognising that one size doesn't fit all. We need targeted interventions based on need and not a bland unpersonalised universal offer. We need a focus on self-help, empowerment and responsibility alongside a relentless drive for transparency. And finally we simply need to focus our energy and efforts on outcomes, not structures, not processes just outcomes.


Thursday, 4 February 2010

And finally today we had a session on innovation and the media...

Richard Allan from Facebook told us that Facebook has over 24 million users in the UK; half of those use it every day! He argued that it will have a massive impact on public services and generally change the face of local and national government. Power has shifted to the users, the clients and the customers who have the tools to disrupt and reorganise services.

Tim Munthe from Demotix uses Skype based connections to gather news from 12000 contributors across the world. There are only a third of the journalists that we had in the early 1980s and most news is now PR news, regurgitated news and shared news. People get their news from their friends... they simply phone a friend! We had better adapt to this new world because Apps are changing the nature of everything we do. It's organic, it's contagious... catch up, catch it or forget it!
After lunch we focused on nannying, nudge or knowledge and what inspires behaviour change...

Ben Hamilton-Baillie talked about the difference between the assumptions we make about behaviour and the behaviour itself. We need to promote intelligent solutions and understand where people need regulation and control. He argued that the public realm doesn't respond well to regulation and control. Evidence suggests that if you remove the barriers, the regulations and the controls we create safer and more efficient shared spaces. This surely has broader lessons for how we work with and serve our communities.

Richard Reeves from Demos argued that knowledge doesn't do it because we don't believe that it will happen to us.We can't change behaviours by simply giving people information. He felt that these issues aren't generally public health problems but instead millions and millions of individual health problems. He went on to sya that we should use nannying where it affected children and young people and where actions cause harm to others. He felt that nudges should be used where the default position puts people in a better position.
The final session before lunch focused on resistance to change across the public sector...

Sir Michael Bichard argued that we need to help people understand why change is happening. It is important that we understand that most people are tired of structural change and that there is no evidence that it works anyway! Instead, Michael argued that we need to redesign our services around the citizen and wok hard to help people understand that the future is going to be very different. We also need to understand that all the evidence suggests that the most effective and efficient strategies often come from the front line. We mustn't underestimate the energy needed to manage change within organisations. We need to pace change to enable things to be managed more effectively and we need to build trust while we avoid creating a blame culture where change agents constantly criticise past performance. People need confidence in the people managing the change and we must constantly and systematically reward and celebrate anything that supports the change process.

Professor Christopher Hood argued that change per se is neither good or bad and doesn't necessarily work. Structural change is generally a disaster and we need to focus instead on culture, people and behaviours. We also need to explore what makes good change and stop the debate about the public/private dichotomy because the world is not that simple. The most interesting organisations are most often found in the margins and the overlaps. The grown up debate is about what kinds of organisations are best placed and best suited to effect the changes we want to see.
After coffee we had a session on making difficult decisions...

Sir Andrew Foster highlighted his respect for the values of public service and the people who work in the public services. We need to use the financial challenge we are facing to help us shape the change to a new future for public services where we ask ourselves what we want from our public services. Andrew outlined three core principles which should drive this future approach to public service:
  • we need to shift from public service to a powerful public where we foocus on the responsibilities of citizens and customers to design, shape and create public services;
  • we must redirect power away from the centre to be balanced around place and scale focused around the citizen or customer;
  • we must reconnect finance with purpose by a much more transparent system to strengthen choice and reconnect citizens and customers with their services.

The 'perfect storm' creates an opportunity for a new paradigm of public services with greater responsibilities for the citizens in terms of the services they want and need.


Another session this morning was delivered by Rob Whiteman who is currently Chief Executive of the London Boorough of Barking and Dagenham and is moving on to head up the IDeA...

Rob argued that there are good examples of innovation all over the place and that innovation is a core leadership competence. He feels that we need to create a framework within which innovation can flourish. So how do we take people with us into this perfect storm and into our brave new world? Rob feels that the future is about self-review, self-improvement and responsibility. We need to address the lack of trust in the system but recognise that the 'best people' look for opportunities and places where they can be innovative, be creative and do things differently.
The first session this morning was 'Improvement in a cold climate' by The Right Honourable Paul Martin former Canadian Prime Minister who was brilliant...

He argued that the most important question we all face isn't what should we cut but what we should be doing in this new world. He also argued that everyone needs to accept responsibility for this new future world where we focus on the core business and doing the hard things that make a difference.

Paul Martin managed the Canadian deficit which was consuming around a third of the Canadian GDP by developing scenarios and then adopting the worst case! He argued that for too long public authorities had hoped agianst hope and his approach was to do whatever it took to cut back to the basics and in the longer term protects the things that really matter.

We have a lot to learn from the Canadian experience.
I started the day really early to get to 'The Guardian Public Services Summit 2010' at The Grove, Chadler's Cross in Hertfordshire...

The theme of the conference is 'getting through but getting better' at this two day summit exploring the need for innovation and a new way of working across the public services. It has been heavy going this morning with ten inputs setting the scene and challenging some of the assumptions about the public sector, the public/private sector differences and how we should see the opportunities the 'perfect storm' brings.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I met an extraordinary young man at Thomas Danby today...

Bobbie Roberts has been at the East SILC John Jamieson since he was two and a half. He is now nearly eighteen and is a very special young man. What was amazing wasn't that Bobbie was in a wheelchair and has physical disabilities. What was amazing was that spending 15 minutes with Bobbie really helped me think about the challenges and opportunities we are facing here at Education Leeds. His approach to life is simple; we just need to break the complex and challenging down into small bite size chunks and simply get on with them. His personal philosophy seems to be take one step at a time and never look back. He reminded me that you can move a mountain with a shovel and a lot of hard work. Bobbie showed me the work he had been doing at college for his Open College accreditation and told me that he likes being challenged and loves being at college. He wants to go to a specialist college in Coventry to study digital media and then to set up his own company. He works at the weekends with his dad supporting his online business and I have no doubts that this very talented young man will go far!

We need to continue to build brilliant provision like this; to personalise the curriculum and to create pathways to success for all our young people, especially the very special ones like Bobbie.
I moved on to the Leeds City College, Thomas Danby site to meet a wonderful group of young people...

My colleague Jake Clarke, our Independent Travel Training Co-ordinator in our Admissions and Transport team, has been working with a group of thirteen Post-16 students from the East SILC John Jamieson at the Thomas Danby site of Leeds City College. Jake had invited me to visit the college to meet these young people. I also met Peter Williams, Debbie Wade, Susan Pogson and Nick Tearle who made up the team. Five of the young people are being given independent travel training and the group have taken part in a competition to deign a cover and logo for a new 'Independent Travel Training' promotional pamphlet for students and their parents. Two designs were chosen and Jake had also invited me present some cinema tickets to Zoe and Josh, two of these wonderful young people.

It was inspiring to meet these young people and their team at the college. We need to develop more targeted and personalised provision like this to meet the needs of these very special young people.
I started the day early having breakfast with an amazing group of headteacher colleagues...

The Inner North West Family of Schools headteachers are a great group of colleagues doing brilliant work with children and families against a background of poverty and deprivation. We considered increasing numbers, 21st Century Schools, special needs and behaviour provision, early years, extended services, 'Every Child a Reader' and talked about the characteristics of brilliant provision and how schools could maintain their focus on standards and safeguarding.
We agreed that the key is to maintain a focus on learning, on quality provision 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 improving the quality of what happens in classrooms and developing self-critical and reflective classroom practitioners who understood the learning and teaching process. We also need to work positively with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to support families and build healthier and more sustainable communities. We need all our schools to be creative and inspiring places that have the WOW factor. We need to develop brilliant early years practice and to ensure that Every Child is a Reader and Every Child Counts by the time they are seven or eight. And we need to ensure that as far as possible all our children became brilliant little learners by the time they leave primary school and are on a pathway to success by the time they are sixteen.

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.


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

This afternoon I opened the 'Show Racism the Red Card' event at the Civic Hall...

We are all working to help our children and young people appreciate difference, value diversity and develop respect, tolerance and understanding. Young people from eighteen primary schools across the city had been invited to the anti-racism educational workshop where they viewed the 'Show Racism a Red Card' DVD featuring top footballers who are like us determined to stamp out racism in our schools, our communities and our sports. It was a brilliant afternoon featuring former Leeds footballers who were wonderful role models for these young people.
I received a copy of a brilliant new Education Leeds publication today...

The booklet 'What we want from the primary curriculum' is a wonderful outcome from a series of conferences for children in primary schools across the city. We wanted to know how these children felt about learning. We asked the children what they most liked about school, what helps them learn, what their responsibilities are as learners and what they think they have to do to succeed.
The booklet is subtitled 'The voice of children in Leeds: A fresh look at the primary curriculum.' If you get a chance you should read this wonderful little publication.
"The curriculum is only as good as those that teach it."
The Rose Review

I started the day at the Primary Headteacher Curriculum Seminar at the Banqueting Suite at Elland Road...

My colleague Kathryn Atkins had asked me to welcome colleagues to the event and set the scene for a series of presentations linked to the new primary curriculum.

We had presentations by Dr Brian Male from QCDA and the Curriculum Foundation, from a primary headteacher from Goole and from Richard Gerver, who has been described as one of the most inspirational leaders of his generation.

We have a brilliant opportunity to take hold of the curriculum and shape it to meet the needs of every community. We need to use the Rose and Alexander Reviews to re-imagine teaching and learning driven by our values, our purposes, our aims and our principles. We need to empower children and respect childhood. We need to focus on well-being, engagement, autonomy, respect and equality. We need to develop key themes like sustainability, global citizenship, creativity, social justice, culture and community. We need children to learn, to know and to do and we need to foster children's skills and excite children's imagination.

These are exciting times.

Monday, 1 February 2010

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"
Nelson Mandela
This afternoon I visited the Leeds Development Education Centre (DEC) on Roundhay Road...

Leeds DEC is an educational charity and public limited company which was originally established by Oxfam in 1978. It worked in partnership with Oxfam until 1995 when the Centre was grant funded by Oxfam to provide resources and training for teachers and youth workers in West Yorkshire. It is a wonderful resource centre providing support for schools on citizenship, sustainable development conflict resolution, human rights, social justice and the global dimension.

The Centre publishes high quality, active learning, development education resources and provides resources for teachers and youth workers to raise young people's awareness of international development issues. It also provides training for teachers and youth workers on a wide range of global issues and is always seeking new ways to raise awareness of international issues using the active learning approaches that are fundamental to development education. The Centre also works with local and international partners to develop new project ideas and secure grants for their implementation.

Leeds DEC has been involved in developing a Regional Strategy for development education in Yorkshire and The Humber and is currently involved in promoting the Global Schools Association and its activities. I think the Centre is one of our best kept secrets but if you want to find out more about Leeds DEC you can visit their website at
I met Peter Winteringham JP and Michelle Parry Sharp, Deputy District Legal Director for Leeds Magistrates Court, this morning...

Leeds Magistrates in the Community have for many years worked with secondary schools, colleges and Leeds University explaining the role of magistrates and the criminal justice system. They have recently become involved with the Ministry of Justice Community Engagement Initiative and discovered that in other parts of the country magistrates tend to focus on Year 5 and Year 6 in primary schools who are more responsive and enthusiastic.

Leeds Magistrates would like to work with a small group of primary schools to pilot a new approach. If any schools are interested please let me know.
After my visit to All Saints CE Primary School last week Sam Nuttall who teaches Year 5 sent me these photos...

It's great to be reminded of the visit through some of the wonderful art work the children had done. The children also sent me e-mails with more interesting questions which I answered over the weekend.