Friday, 19 October 2007

Message of the Week Eight

As you know I am attracted by beautiful systems and the need to make things simple. At times our lives can be very complicated, and yet we sometimes add to this by making things even more complex and more difficult for each other. The real trouble with common sense is that it isn’t all that common and, despite the fact that the world is full of experienced, skilled and clever people even the best of us can make mistakes. But it doesn’t have to be that way and it is reassuring to know that the best ideas are often the simplest.

This last week has been a really hard and incredibly busy one, but a week as always where I have learnt a lot. My life as always was full of meetings… councillors, headteachers, partners and colleagues. I was invited to speak at a number of events… the Rotary Club of Headingley, the Primary Headteachers Induction conference and the Challenging Racism Together event which was organised with the trade unions. We had an overnight session with the Education Leeds Board to look at the future and our strategic priorities and I had dinner with colleagues from RM and the chief executive of the Kunskapsskolan, a company running schools in Sweden. I also attended the Annual CBI regional dinner as the guest of Maxine Room the new chief executive and principal at Park Lane College. As usual, I visited some great schools… Cookridge Holy Trinity CE Primary School, Drighlington Primary School and Hovingham Primary School… where talented colleagues are making a real difference. I also attended meetings about the Joint Area Review; our children’s services inspection which takes place later this term with a focus on looked after children, children with disabilities, safeguarding, mental health services and 14 – 19 provision! I think, however, that the highlight of my week was an invitation to take part in the ‘Civic Gospel’ seminar which formed a small part of the wonderful Sikh Religious, Educational and Interfaith event at Roundhay Park.

This is simply going to be another incredible few months and we need to work even harder to engage and focus the potential within Education Leeds and our schools if we are to secure better outcomes for children and young people. As a learning organisation we must face up to the challenges of the Annual Performance Assessment, the Joint Area Review, the 14 – 19 Review, the new Inclusive Learning Strategy, Academies, shifting floor targets, progression targets and more Ofsted inspections. We must all feel a real sense of ownership and responsibility for all of this agenda, the issues and the problems we face together and we must all constantly learn from everything that we do.

I re-read a book over the weekend called Simply Brilliant by Fergus O’Connell which outlined the competitive advantage of common sense. I have adapted his principles as follows:
· most things are simple;
· know what you are trying to do;
· work to a plan and stick to it;
· things don’t get done unless you do them;
· things rarely turn out as you expect;
· look at things from others’ points of view; and
· work to get things done in the shortest possible time.
Remember to keep it simple and be your brilliant best.

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