Thursday, 18 January 2007

Well that was some day... I left home at 6.30 to get to the station for the 7.00 train to London and I have been regretting it ever since...

I should have seen the weather forecast and simply stayed in bed! The train was delayed with an electrical problem in Darlington and finally arrived at 7.30. The trains were then running at a maximum speed of 80 miles per hour... so more delays... we would get to London at 9.30. We had more electrical problems at Newark Northgate and as the time passed the trains were now running at a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour... so we eventually arrived at Kings Cross at 10.35... an hour and a half late. I should have simply got back on the train and gone home but having come so far you don't like to give up do you.

The next surprise was that there was a power failure at Kings Cross and the tube station was closed and the station notice boards were down. Persevering as always... I walked away from Kings Cross and grabbed a taxi to get me to the Barbican Centre, where I was supposed to be attending a conference on the Education and Inspections Act. I finally arrived at the conference at 11.10 having missed Jim Knight, Schools and 14 - 19 Ministers contribution... the real reason I went. The conference wasn't very good... no answers and fairly pedestrian inputs but funnily enough it reassured me. As always, no one has sorted this all out. We are as advanced in our thinking as anyone else and further ahead than most. The focus at the conference on commissioning, choice and diversity simply reassured me that no one really has a clue what it all means... the DfES saying that there is no single way of doing this and they expect each authority to invent their own models, mechanisms and solutions. Anyway lunch was good if delayed along with the afternoon sessions because speakers hadn't been able to get to London... so all in all a bit of a waste!

However home called and I set off for Kings Cross once more. They say that it's always good to leave the best bit until last... I managed to get back to Kings Cross without any more problems. I was almost lulled into a false sense of security... only to discover that there were more problems... I think it was the wrong sort of wind. We waited at Kings Cross to be initially told the the trains would only be able to go at 50 and the journey times would be doubled... then miraculously it was increased to 80 only to be told almost imediately that there was another problem. A tree had fallen across the line and the alternative route out of London had the electric power lines down. There would be a delay while they sorted it out but if you didn't need to travel you were advised to go home.

That is what I wanted to do... but this day was turning into a nightmare and after a wait of around an hour and a half we were told that Kings Cross was closing and that no trains would be running for the rest of the day... all trains were cancelled. So where am I? I am in hotel in London waiting for the weather to improve so I can eventually go home!

Did I waste a day?... probably not. What did I learn?... lots. What we are doing in Leeds is amazing and generally way ahead of the game... whatever it is. Our colleagues in schools, in the Council, in our partners and in Education Leeds are releasing a very special kind of magic and already making a real difference with extended services, local partnerships, joined up services around children and their families ... but there is more to do. We must embrace personalisation, coaching, ownership, choice and voice as driving principles for everything we do. We must develop intelligent and powerful accountability systems to drive improved outcomes. We must embrace and achieve a step change in outcomes for our children and young people... whatever it takes. It simply isn't good enough to be innovative, creative and experimental... we have to prove that we are delivering and we have to deliver fast.

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