Saturday, 26 June 2010
At a wonderful celebration of children and young people, who sang, danced, performed a puppet show, a haka, poems, and drama, Bramhope Primary School, Adel Primary School, Westgate Primary School, All Saints CE Primary School, St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, The Whartons Primary School, Ashfield Primary School, Pool CE Primary School and Prince Henry's Grammar School all committed to and signed their Anti-Racism Charter which was accepted by Ray Smith, Otley Town Mayor, on behalf of the town.
These great young people wanted to tell me what they were doing and asked me what Education Leeds was doing as an organisation and how we were helping schools develop environmental education and understanding and become sustainable schools. EDucation Leeds has produced its own environmental sustainability statement which clearly demonstrates our commitment to working in partnership with our schools, partners, agencies and other organisations to improve outcomes, to look after the environment and to change behaviours and attitudes by caring for the environment. We are committed to:
- being environmentally sustainable;
- being an environmentally responsible organisation;
- developing and supporting sustainable schools;
- building brilliant learning places.
We undetsnd that this means that we must all take responsibility for our actions and I hope all our schools will join the 43 great schools like Crawshaw School to work to become sustainable schools and join us in the next celebration of this vital work next year when we celebrate Green Day together.
I had been invited by my colleague Pauline Rosenthal and it was brilliant to see the impact Pauline and her colleagues are having in targeted schools across the city through these two wonderful programmes. I arrived as St Peter's CE Primary School did their performance and they were stunning. They were followed by Allerton CE Primary School whose performance showed that this is a school where children can sing and dance. As you can see from these pictures all the schools involved released an energy and magic in the Civic Hall that brought the event to life and energised everyone there.
It was a great event celebrating the achievements of some talented and wonderful young people and encouraging them to continue to work hard to achieve their potential. Pauline and her colleagues are making a real difference through these programmes and reaching and engaging young people and their families and helping us all understand what is possible.
Leeds Schools Green Day 2010 was launched on Thursday at Whitecote Primary School in Bramley. I joined children at the school and Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services in a range of activities including n'power's Climate Cops, recycled art activities with support from a scrap arts group, a visit to a local organic farm to study vegetable growing and carry out a taste test and the launch of school ‘eco-monitors’ who will ensure lights and taps are turned off in school. And on Friday over 16,000 Leeds children and young people took up the challenge as they learned about how they can save the environment during Leeds Schools Green Day. This was the third Schools Green Day, which raises young people’s awareness of the environment and climate change while supporting efforts to make Leeds schools more sustainable. 43 schools across the city took part in the day, which has been organised by Education Leeds in partnership with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). Other activities taking place in schools in the city include walking buses, students wearing green outfits for the day, environmentally-themed assemblies, energy saving workshops and ‘no power hour/days’.
I am grateful to my colleague Steve Ruse who leads this important work for us and whose passion, enthusiams and commitment has achieved so much here in Leeds. Together our children and young people, as environmental ambassadors and climate cops and eco warriers, can and are making a huge difference and changing the world for the better.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
The evening started with a selection of highly commended short films from the 2010 Leeds City College Spotlight Award including the winning entry "What would you Say?". The evening also included Ian McMillan, the 'Bard of Barnsley', who has been a poet, broadcaster and programme maker for 25 years, and who was great. It was a wonderful evening celebrating some talented young people who have achieved outstanding academic results and others who had achieved great things against the odds. The student of the year was Liam Thompson and the apprentice of the year was Joel Tate.
Teams of students aged between 11-16 are challenged to create a unique display around the charity’s emblem, the daffodil, whilst raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. This display can be either in the school/college grounds or local community. Once the project is completed students get the opportunity to celebrate their efforts by entering our nationwide competition with the chance of winning a unique prize for the entire team. Schools can register for the challenge until Thursday 30, September 2010. Students will also benefit from top tips given by James Caan, Business Entrepreneur and Dragon from BBC’s Dragons’ Den, who is supporting the challenge.
“The Daffodil Schools Challenge, an initiative which I fully support, will help pupils learn skills in key areas such as planning, management, budgeting, communication and team work. These are fundamental skills for business, no matter how big or small, and lessons learned in these areas will be lessons learned for life. As well as developing business acumen from a young age, the students will also raise funds to help Marie Curie Nurses care for terminally ill people. Almost everyone, young and old, knows of someone who has been affected by a terminal illness, and the Daffodil Schools Challenge helps raise awareness and funds whilst coaching them in basic business knowledge: two areas which are extremely important to me personally. ”
To register or find out more about the Daffodil Schools Challenge you can visit their website at http://www.mariecurie.org.uk/NR/exeres/AD1DA0A5-AABB-4F67-9222-95CA98BB276D,frameless.htm?NRMODE=Published
Education Leeds is working in partnership with the Commission for Architechture and the Built Environment with 43 schools across the city who have all received a Green Day Activity Kit with ideas and suggestions alongside advice and practical support from partner agencies, businesses and voluntary and community groups. Schools have also been using a sustainability checklist developed by young people in Leeds to audit themselves to see how they can become sustainable schools. This brilliant project is critically important as we move into a more challenging financial climate where we must do more to recycle, reuse and renew, to save energy and water and to grow and source fruit and vegetables locally.
This brilliant little primary school had arranged a whole day of activity for it's 400+ children including:
- a whole school recycling assembly led by colleagues from Skelton Grange;
- recycled art activities supported by 'scrap arts' group;
- a visit to a local organic farm to taste and experiment and grow;
- a visit by npower's climate cops with 'k'eyush' their 7ft polar bear mascot;
- the launch of their 'eco-monitors' team;
- a visit by 'Thermo', Leeds very own superhero whose mission is to combat energy waste.
Pauline Gavin and her team don't do things by halves at St Barts! Breakfast was brilliant; the food, the venue and the company were all outstanding. The Inner West Family talked about the many challenges we all face and how schools could maintain their focus on standards and safeguarding despite the challenges we are currently facing with change, cuts and uncertainty. We all agreed that we need our schools to be creative and inspiring places at the heart of their communities 365-24-7 releasing the magic and 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.
These are great colleagues leading great schools where front line provision is wrapped in a stimulating, creative and imaginative curriculum offer that aims to turn out happy, healthy, safe and successful little learners, whatever it takes. Whenever I visit St Bart's and meet colleagues like these I know that I am in the presence of the real heroes of education in Leeds who fight the good fight day-in day-out because of their passion, commitment, determination,belief and because they care deeply about their children, their families and their communities.
My colleague Chris Chambers, who is a Senior Enterprise Ambassador at our Education Business Partnership, sent me this after the brilliant Showcase and Celebration Event last week at the Garforth Holiday Inn...
"Hi Chris, Thank you for attending the 'Showcase and Celebration Event: Social Enterprise Flying High!' at the Holiday Inn last week. The day was enjoyed by over 100 students; 32 local business people and 34 teachers. The day was fantastic although many of us ended the day with less money than we started with due to the entrepreneurial prowess of the young people we are working with. The winners were:
- Best Stand Primary - All Saints C of E Primary School
- Best Stand Secondary - Primrose High School
- Best Marketing Primary - All Saints C of E Primary School
- Best Marketing Secondary - Primrose High School
- Best Team Primary - Middleton St Mary's and Middleton St Philips
- Best Team Secondary - South Leeds Academy
- Best Customer Service Primary - Beeston Primary
- Best Customer Service Secondary - City Of Leeds
- Special Enterprise Award Primary - Ingram Road Primary
- Special Enterprise Award Secondary - Harry Claydon - South Leeds Academy
- Social Enterprise of the Year Primary - All Saints C of E Primary
- Social Enterprise of the Year Secondary - City Of Leeds
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year Primary - Megan Higgins (All Saints C of E Primary School)
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year Secondary - Holly Bilby (Primrose High School)
Thanks again, Chris."
The future requires us all to be even more creative and imaginative and to develop social enterprises in our schools which meet the needs of local communities and provide real opportunities for our young people to run small businesses. We need to encourage and support our children and young people to be entrepreneurial and to give them the skills, attitudes and belief to succeed in the constantly changing world of work. It was brilliant to see the work Chris and the team have nurtured, encouraged and supported with these young people who are so enthusiastic about their business ideas which included an art gallery, button beads, super saints journal, ration shop, flash 'n' snap, ginger enjoyment, fruit saloon, treatz for you, helping hands and young talent coaches. Whatever the budget brings the future is going to be bright with these talented young people.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Cockburn College of Arts is one of our real success stories with the best contextual value added in the city, the region and possibly the country. The results have gone from 9% achieving 5A*-C grades at GCSE to an sastonishing 70%. It is a fantastic example of what is possible with the right leadership, teaching and learning team and an unshakeable belief in what our young people can achieve. The new building is amazing and stands there as a statement about the importance of learning and success in South Leeds.
These headteachers are a great group of colleagues doing brilliant work with children and families against a background of poverty and deprivation. We talked about the characteristics of brilliant provision and how schools could maintain their focus on standards and safeguarding despite the challenges we are currently facing with change, cuts and uncertainty. We all agreed that we need our schools to be creative and inspiring places at the heart of their communities 365-24-7 releasing the magic and 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.
These wonderful colleagues have a fundamental and unshakeable belief in what can be achieved with their children and their communities and it was brilliant to spend some time with these colleagues who are at the front line of children's services here in Leeds. Their energy, enthusiasm, passion and commitment is releasing the magic in one of the toughest parts of Leeds!
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don't hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don't take things that aren't yours.
- Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm biscuits and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
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 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, in a children's services world, 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 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.
We know that we need to work positively and creatively with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to support families and build healthier and more sustainable communities. The challenges we are currently facing with change, cuts and uncertainty are actually an opportunity to re-imagine, to re-engineer and to create a new highly focused local authority that builds and supports the extraordinary provision in schools like these. If we want to build brilliant and if we are serious about trust, empowerment, freedom, flexibility and responsibility sitting at the heart of our work we must all take a deep breath and continue to encourage schools at the heart of their communities, to 'Think Family' and all work together to develop powerful communities through social enterprise, volunteering and public companies.
It is sad what has happened to Education Leeds, but our shared adventure has shown us what is possible and we must now build a new set of Children's Services arrangements and continue to build brilliant provision for all our children, young people, families and communities. It was a brilliant to spend some time with these colleagues who are at the front line of children's services here in Leeds. We must all do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more and most importantly it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together!
"Chris, After being asked by me at the Headteacher seminar at Elland Road on Tuesday last week; 'What are the key things that you want to hold onto as we move forward beyond April 2011?' and 'What things are most valued, must continue, are not up for sale?' They replied:
1. A SIP role whereby the SIP is a part of the Leeds learning community.
2. Support for schools such as the CPD that is currently provided by Education Leeds.
3. "United we stand...." We want our local authority to thrive as we are part of it and being a part of it is vital in supporting us as headteachers as we face the pressures and challenges and continue to be at the heart of strong local communities. Take care, Paul"
As we face the challenges ahead, and re-imagine and re-engineer the future of children's services here in Leeds, this is a great message from a brilliant group of colleagues.
Monday, 21 June 2010
Interestingly during the last week we have had a visit from the DfE to look at our 'Great Schools' and a session where 200 primary colleagues came together and wherever I go at the moment The messages are the same. As we all brace ourselves to face the changes that are coming we have a huge shared commitment to building world class provision, safeguarding, 'Think Family' and making things better for children and their families. Everyone I speak to understands the need for us to develop schools at the heart of comunities with a shared and common geography which enables all partners to work together more powerfully. We all understand that we must embed, develop and resource targeted support within the universal services and build the team around the child and the team around the family as part of the team around the school. I know that colleagues talk about where the universal services are and it is vitally important that we all understand that many partners do make a universal offer but schools are our only universal settings where our children and young peiople are required by law to be every day. We need to continue to develop our workforce, our leadership and our culture to support this new and exciting world. And importantly to build relationship and understanding and understanding across the partnership we need to develop a learning academy within children's services where across all our practice we share and showcase what brilliant looks like... in social care, in early years in youth, in the health service and the police as well as in our schools.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Children from four Leeds primary schools have helped to set up their own mini Olympics as part of a city-wide programme to link learning and exercise to the 2012 Olympic Games. The Spirit Alive event, which will take place at the John Charles Centre for Sport tomorrow, has been organised by children from Gledhow Primary School, Kerr Mackie Primary School, Moor Allerton Primary School and Talbot Primary School. The children will take to the track and field between 10am and 2pm and the event will have many of the features of the real Olympic Games including an opening and closing ceremony and medal presentation.
Spirit Alive is a brilliant cross-curricular project linked to the Olympic Games for young people of all ages. It started four years ago in Leeds and is designed to give children and young people a chance to lead, manage and deliver a mini Olympics experience for their own schools. This year we hope that around 120 schools across the city will deliver their own mini olympic games and by 2012 every school in Leeds wiil take part in this fantastic initiative.