Monday, 17 September 2007

Message of the Week Four

"Be fanatics.
When it comes to
being and doing and dreaming,
be maniacs."
A.M. Rosenthal

I have had a roller-coaster week full of ups and downs; exciting adrenalin rushes followed by those slow crawling bits when you have to be dragged up to the top of the hill to start the thing all over again.

I attended the Children Leeds Partnership, talked to members of the Labour Group, attended Executive Board and contributed to the Leeds Initiative’s BME Consultation Event where about 200 colleagues, partners and activists were asked for their views of the new Vision for Leeds. I attended a meeting at the University of Leeds to discuss with both universities and colleagues from the DfCSF the ways that the universities could support the central area schools and any future Academies here in Leeds. I spent a stimulating, very challenging but rewarding day with the secondary headteachers, college principals and other key partners discussing our 14 -19 strategy and I contributed to the Education Leeds Induction Programme for an amazing group of new starters who are already making a difference across the company.

Amongst the meetings, presentations and paperwork , I also managed to visit four great schools; places releasing a very special kind of magic here in Leeds. I visited Woodlands Primary School to talk to Chris Walton about the really incredible progress they are making to address their challenges and to drive up standards. I visited Woodkirk High School to attend another brilliant STEPS celebration led by the wonderful learning mentors from Woodkirk and from Fountain and Blackgates Primary Schools. I visited Parklands Primary School to attend the first birthday party of ‘The Bridge Centre’; brilliant provision working with children with emotional problems that can lead to behavioural difficulties. I also visited Middleton St Mary’s CE Primary School, whose headteacher is seriously ill to check that they were alright.

We face some real challenges to achieve our mission... every school in Leeds to be a good school, an inclusive school and an improving school… brilliant learning places where every child, every colleague are happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful… whatever it takes. And, I know that some people continue to say that it is impossible, against a background chorus that mutters that it’s unlikely here in Leeds with kids like these. However, it has been done and is being done at Boston Spa School, Carr Manor High School, Cockburn College, Crawshaw School, David Young Community Academy, Garforth Community College, John Smeaton Community College and Morley High School... individual schools and young people's performances speak volumes about what is possible with commitment, passion, courage, talent and sheer hard work.

OK, but what stops us all from achieving it? We spend too much of our lives drifting along, excusing the mundane and the ordinary, not pushing ourselves to the limit. We find excuses and reasons for not doing things, for not setting goals and achieving our dreams. As I said to the secondary headteachers and the BME group, we must all be brave enough to step up and accept the challenge and not simply sit back and say ‘what can I do?’

So, no more excuses. Everyone of us should look at our lives, our work and ask ourselves am I trying hard enough? Could I do better? We need to have a winning mindset, a positive attitude and remember there are no hiding places and no excuses. And always remember…
"People who say it can’t be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."

Don’t look for the person to do it for you, get up and do it yourself.

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