Thursday, 4 January 2007

I spent the first part of the day with our new parent advisers at Weetwood Hall. Wendy Winterburn, Rebecca Trumble, Gill Dawson and her colleagues were running part of the training programme for these new colleagues. Wendy had asked me to open the event and it was wonderful to meet and talk to a group of colleagues whose work is going to help us transform outcomes for children and young people across Leeds. These are the people who can really make a difference because the learning thing is so much more complicated than people seem to think. We believe that learners need to be happy, healthy and safe if they are going to be successful. Expectations critically limit our potential… especially those of our families and our peers but also of our teachers and other people we hold in high regard. We must work really hard to change the way our children and young people see themselves, how their parents and carers see them and how their teachers and others see them. Unless we do this we will never enable our children and young people to realise their enormous potential. I had a letter today from Lord Adonis replying to the one I sent him. Interestingly, Lord Adonis asks how I can argue that expectations are high in our schools if results are still so low. How can I argue that schools in Leeds are good, improving and inclusive if we are so far behind national averages. It’s the same argument I have heard many times before… If all schools aren’t achieving great outcomes something must be wrong with the schools says the number crunchers and the information junkies. It’s obvious, the teachers must be lazy, sloppy, careless or useless! It’s clear that people can’t be working hard enough. It’s beyond a doubt that these schools aren’t working the right sort of magic.However… it isn’t that simple. It can’t be or surely we would have cracked it by now. Those of us who are passionate about standards, outcomes and impact and have spent our lives trying to find the answers would have discovered the answer to life, the universe and everything. There's an arrogance at work: the arrogance that we know exactly what happens when someone learns something, that we can plan for it, that we can describe it, that we can record it - and that if we can't do these things, then the learning doesn't exist. The arrogance leads us to concentrate on a particular kind of work - noses-to-the-grindstone treadmill kind of work, work that is observable, recordable and well-nigh constant. Surprisingly perhaps… we don’t yet know how to solve all the educational and social problems we face. Surely we know by now that real change is about guided incremental change is the key… we cannot bull-doze it… it takes time and must be organic!Chris

No comments: