Saturday, 17 March 2007
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Despite our success this year we still face a reality where about half our young people are achieving mediocre and unsatisfactory outcomes at the end of eleven years of statutory education. There is increasing recognition that secondary schools as we know them will not deliver for all of our young people. The current testing and standards approach will only ever slowly ratchet up the scores; it will not reform learning, improve outcomes and close the increasing gap between the best and the worst.
Schools need more than tinkering at the edges… we need a learning transformation to achieve transformational and brilliant outcomes. While Tony Blair and Lord Adonis believe that autonomy and academies will provide us with the answers, I have my doubts. Deep down I believe that if schools are to be significantly better they must be significantly different. I think the answer lies in new institutional models that recognise the nature of learning and the nature of the learner. New community based learning centres with local leadership creating new dynamic institutions with creative and imaginative responses to a rapidly and constantly changing society.
To achieve this fundamental transformation we must:
¨ Make our institutions places that support 24:7:365 learning;
¨ Focus on learning not teaching;
¨ Move away from the idea of the teacher to the coach, consultant or learning leader model;
¨ Ensure that each learner has a personal learning plan, a personal adviser and a personal mentor;
¨ Focus on the powerful and imaginative use of ICT;
¨ Develop new systems to encourage innovation and creativity;
¨ Build learning networks;
¨ Develop integrated multi-agency partnerships;
¨ Develop ways of engaging parents and carers;
¨ Develop ways of engaging children and young people;
In this brave new world, we need to understand the importance of people, of ideas, of networks and of connections. Above all, we must to be open to new ideas and we must continue to thrive on chaos.
Brilliant people make Education Leeds a very special place. We need to learn from each other and remember some of the key messages so that we continue to nurture the magic, develop the creative edge and keep our people happy, healthy, safe and successful… whatever it takes:
- Clean up the clutter;
- Get some sunshine;
- Count your blessings;
- Don’t dwell on the negatives;
- Find some silence;
- Live for today;
- Do something you love;
- Listen to music;
- Watch the sunrise or the sunset; and
- Never lie about anything important.
Our lives are full of stress, challenge and hastle. The pace never seems to let up. We all know what we need to do but we never seem to find the time.
These are some of the things that will make a difference:
- Stamp your feet.
- Touch your toes.
- Get enough sleep.
- Regularly take a break.
It is important that we remember the things that we should all do to keep Education Leeds a special place. We need to remember that people are our business and we must develop all our colleagues to become the talented, wonderful, gorgeous and brilliant people they have the potential to be.
My top ten work-life tips:
- Hug a friend;
- Keep a pet;
- Say thank you;
- Share experiences and successes;
- Search for ways to have fun; and
- Wear comfortable shoes!
We have a brilliant, talented, gorgeous and wonderful Communications Team here at Education Leeds but we all need to keep looking at how we communicate and engage our partners, schools and young people. Interestingly, I am told that only 7% of the messages we receive are the things we say. The other 93% is wrapped up in our body language, our tone of voice and our expressions.
In a people organisation like ours we need to understand and practice the 93% rule. Here are a few practical tips you might like to consider:
¨ Listen and pay attention;
¨ Don’t interrupt or dismiss concerns;
¨ Use names;
¨ Focus and concentrate;
¨ Give genuine praise;
¨ Take a personal interest;
¨ Spend time;
In his book, “The Star Thrower”, Loren Eiseley talks about the day when early one morning he was walking along a sandy beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He noticed a boy picking up the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the sea. Eiseley watched for a few minutes and then asked the boy what he was doing. The boy told him that he was returning the starfish to the sea or they would die. Eiseley asked the boy how saving a few would make any difference whatsoever. The boy picked up a starfish and as he threw it back into the sea said, “It’s going to make a lot of difference to this one.”
Whatever the powers that be and the gods throw at us we must always remember that we are making a difference... we are changing lives... we are transforming communities... we are building brilliant learning places.
And by the way the red hair raised over £500 for Comic Relief!
Friday, 16 March 2007
The Prime Minister came to Leeds to officially open Carr Manor High School and it was brilliant. Simon Flowers and his team did an amazing job of organising the opening which worked with militray precision until it came to the timing... Tony Blair was running 30 minutes late and then when he and Cherie toured the school they took longer than expected. The real problem was that the event was outside and it was so cold. Still it isn't that often that a Prime Minister opens your school...
Tony Blair, who is the first serving Prime Minister to open a new school in Leeds since the Second World War, said: "This is a magnificent school and it's going to provide a first class education for the children who come here."
As I said it was a fantastic day.
Thursday, 15 March 2007
We talked about beautiful systems and how we are developing our performance management framework to support and drive our culture. We talked about this message which they felt encouraged a lack of focus and could undermine their work on our plans and startegies.
"Success is NOT plan driven, it is NOT the product of strategic thinking or planning or the product of focus groups. It is NOT about strategies, inspections, targets, meetings, command and control, power, bureaucracy, glossy publications and paper mountains
Success is NEEDS driven, it is messy, unpredictable, about living on the edge, evolutionary, trivial, creative, experimental and the product of trial and error. It is about brilliant colleagues, powerful relationships, dynamic partnerships, no-blame, trust, taking risks, empowerment, intelligent accountability and action."
What is obvious is that the two things go hand in hand. .. beautiful systems and a culture which encourages innovation, creativity and experiment. Peter Storrie and the team are doing some great stuff around the transformational projects, the School Contact System and the Strategic Plan. These talented colleagues are available to help and support any colleagues on their journey to create truly beautiful systems!
"I agree that blogging can potentially be an amazing resource for our children. Although in its infancy, we have set up a blog at our school as a publishing platform for children's work. It has only been up and running for about two weeks but we have had some brilliant feedback already and the children are just thrilled when their work is commented upon. We have set the blog up so that all posts and comments are moderated before they appear as a security check. I'd love any feedback on how it looks so far from fellow bloggers!"
I visited the website and the blog and it's great stuff. Great poems, maths puzzles and they have made their own short movie. It's amazing the talent we have in our schools. You can visit Phil's blog by visiting www.otleyallsaints.co.uk
"Do you know people who talk about kids who can learn and kids who can't? Or, kids who can be helped and kids who can't? Well, they are wrong, and I'll tell you why. Some 30-odd years ago, the great Japanese teacher, Dr. Suzuki, who taught over 20,000 children to understand and play the violin like virtuosi, had some words of wisdom to share with us. He said, " People today are like gardeners who look sadly at ruined saplings and shake their heads, saying the seeds must have been bad to start with - not realizing that the seed was all right, and that it was their method of cultivation that was wrong. They go on their mistaken way, ruining plant after plant. It is imperative that the human race escape from this vicious circle."
"Dr. Suzuki did not believe that some children were gifted while others were not. He believed that every child could be superior, and that every child could be educated. Talent, he believed, was no accident of birth, but a purposeful effort, a powerful creation. Let's teach our children to understand that when they see someone of ability, they see a person who has been carefully taught, and who has worked hard to realize their unlimited potential. Let's teach them that they have the same unlimited potential. And let's teach them to believe in sustained effort, self-discipline and self-determination. We have the opportunity and the ability to raise an entire generation of superstars every day."
Why would we settle for less?
Saw this and thought of you. Enjoy!
The Beaten Track
"The things that haven't been done before
Are the tasks worthwhile today;
Are you one of the flock that follows,or
Are you the one that shall lead the way?
Are you one of the timid souls that quail
At the jeers of a doubting crew,
Or dare you, whether you win or fail,
Strike out for a goal that is new?"
It's great to work with people who understand the pressures, care and share the passion.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Anyone who has achieved anything significant has had to put up with people saying that it couldn't be done. Most of us dislike change but wht we do is all about change and the management of change and we should constantly challenge the status quo and refuse to take no for an answer!
We have to think differently…if you go on doing what you have always done you will go on getting what you have always got… and it can’t be about simply making do and it can’t be about hoping things will get better. In the real world people need to have 85% well developed attitudes and 15% knowledge and skills. So it's true that attitudes can change the world.
We must work to create an approach where there are no excuses and where we constantly learn from our successes and from our failures and setbacks. It is important that we lead by example, continue to develop relationships and trust with our colleagues and our schools, our stakeholders and our partners. And talking about brilliant learning places...
My colleague Graham Sephton, Team Manager in Personnel was out at Valley View Primary School with Sarah Griggs and her team on Wednesday. The school had a training day and Graham and colleagues had been asked to go in and do some team development work.
Graham tells me that they had a brilliant time and that the team there are really something special. They have managed, in just six short months, to build one of the most fantastic teams Graham has ever seen. Some words spring to mind about what they've got....... fun, spirit, all-for-one approach, energy, honesty, unity, passion, togetherness. Graham was 'blown away'.
It's very clear, from Sarah's work at Valley View Primary School, that leadership is about unleashing people's passion. challenging their beliefs and giving them a sense of self and purpose. This isn’t a sometime thing it is a passionate commitment to excellence in everything we do, including looking after our colleagues, ensuring their worklife balance and that they spend time with the people they care about and love.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed people can change the world.
Indeed it's the only thing that ever does!"
Keep the faith
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
The school has been doing musicals since 1978... so this was their thirtieth year! I had been invited to "Back to the 80's... The Totally Awesome Musical!" and it was brilliant. The large group of talented young people put on two and a half hours of amazing entertainment including twenty three songs from the 80's and there were so many young people who could really sing, act and dance! The band were fantastic and the production slick and well managed. I counted nineteen young people in the main cast, thirty in the chorus and the dancers, eighteen in the band and another thirty-five in the production team... so over a hundred young people delivered something very special. It was a really outstanding evening with polished and professional performances... and apparently the 'Back to the 80's Menu' was fantastic as well. If you get the chance to go... GO!
It was yet another example of a good school doing things really well and releasing an amazing energy, enthusiasm and magic from some wonderful young people... thank you!
The student in Year 11 were having a revision day and they were expecting an inspirational figure from the world of sport but she had let them down and I agreed to stand in. This is what I told the students...
"What you think about yourself is the single most important factor in your success.
o Your personality;
o Your actions;
o How you get along with other people;
o How you perform at school;
o Your feelings;
o Your beliefs;
o Your aspirations;
o Your talents;
o Your abilities…
..are all controlled by how you see yourself. We act like the person we imagine ourselves to be. So if you see yourself as a failure you will become a failure and if you see yourself as a success you will probably become successful.
Attitude is more important than facts. Those who believe they can, can and those who believe they can’t, can’t. It is as simple as that and no longer open to question.
People fail, people succeed not because of who they are but because of who they think they are. You have been programmed to believe that you are good at some things and rubbish at others. Like Joan of Arc we all hear voices… voices that talk to us all the time and control who we are and what we do. Who has programmed you? Your family, your friends, your teachers, the media and anyone you listen to.
They are wrong
The thing that determines your success is your attitude, your beliefs, your emotions about yourself. People constantly tell me why they can’t do things…
o not enough time;
o not enough money;
o not enough experience;
o they are not clever enough.
But actually they are all excuses because success is about determination, passion, persistence , commitment and resolve. If you are energetic enough and determined enough and work hard enough you can do anything. You can change your life by changing your attitude… OK what is stopping you from being successful… the last resort is I’m not clever enough… and it’s rubbish.
There is no such thing as genius… perhaps a tiny bit if I am pushed. Success is
o 30% coaching, teaching, mentoring and supporting; and
o 70% hard work.
Look at Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer in the world. He started when he was tiny, focused, was coached by his Dad and worked harder at it than anyone else and he still does.
So 'I’m not clever enough' is simply an excuse for the lazy and those not prepared to put in the effort… there are no excuses. Attitude is the force that matters. We all, everyone in this room, have great minds, great talents and great potential… you might not believe it yet but understanding this means that you will be able to achieve so much more.
I know people who have been dealt the worst possible deals in life. People who have been abused, locked up, bullied and oppressed and still succeeded. Just look at Nelson Mandela! When Nelson Mandela was elected as President of South Africa he told the people of South Africa that they were all brilliant, talented, gorgeous and wonderful.
You are all brilliant, talented, gorgeous and wonderful but it’s your choice and there are no excuses."
After my input I had my photograph taken with two students who were simply brilliant. Chloe and Jordan want to be a dancer and a mathematician. However, it isn't as you might have predicted... Chloe is going to do mathematics in the Sixth Form at Rodillian School in September and Jordan is going to do a NVQ in Dance at Wakefield College. These are two amazing young people and great adverts for Rodillian School.
Chloe went to Middleton Primary School and Jordan went to Sharp Lane Primary School.
Michael Hayes, Support Assistant in the Procurement and Service Advice Team sent me an e-mail At that meeting was Adrian Webster, a leading motivational speaker, who spoke about his research into motivation. Adrian felt that successful and motivated people have the following qualities:
- asking questions; and
- a willingness to learn.
It was great to hear that Lladel Bryant from Intake High School won UK Young Citizen of the Year. The inspirational sixth former from Harehills won the title for his tireless work promoting racial harmony at Intake High School in Rodley. Lladel spearheaded an anti-racism campaign that was the catalyst for the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard awarded to his school. Lladel was a graduate of the Windsor Junior Fellowship Programme in 2005. You can find out more at http://www.leedstoday.net.
A great success story.
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is so much negativity around… so many people who only see the glass half empty… who see problems not opportunities… want to criticise rather than congratulate. OK we know that expectations have increased, working hours are long, the demands are relentless and the technology simply piles on the pressure, because there is no escape any more and nowhere you can hide. But there is another way…
If we are going to continue to be a brilliant learning place we must…
- Adopt an athletic mindset …. prepare, review and train.
- Remember successes…. focus on what has gone well.
- Learn from everything… review, analyse and evaluate.
- Don’t get bogged down by setbacks… use them to learn and do better.
- Control things… be prepared and be organised.
- Focus on success… use visualisation and affirmation techniques.
- Look after ourselves and each other… eat well, exercise and relax.
- Manage attitudes…be optimistic and be positive.
- Seek challenges… get feedback to improve our performance.
- Create a brilliant working environment… play to our strengths
"Winning is about individuals performing when the going gets tough, not when it’s easy."
Keep the faith
"The trouble with so many of us is that we underestimate the power of simplicity. We have a tendency it seems to over complicate our lives and forget what's important and what's not. We tend to mistake movement for achievement. We tend to focus on activities instead of results. And as the pace of life continues to race along in the outside world, we forget that we have the power to control our lives regardless of what's going on outside."
Do you know anyone aged between 8 and 14 are loves to bake? Then they can enter this year’s national cooking competition! To enter the Guild of Food Writers CookIt! competition, come up with a two course menu of main course and dessert. This year’s competition aims to encourage children to bake and one of the dishes on the menu must be an oven-baked dish, either savoury or sweet, such as a pastry pie, flan or cake.
Send in your recipes by Thursday 12 April 2007 for your chance to win fabulous prizes.
Six talented finalists will be chosen from the entrants of this nationwide competition to come to London on Thursday 24 May to prepare their meals in front of the judges in the BBC Good Food Magazine test kitchen. This year’s judges include celebrity chef Marcus Wareing (BBC Two’s Great British Menu), cookery writer Sophie Grigson, chef Mark Hix (Executive Chef, Caprice Holdings) and BBC Good Food Magazine’s Food Director Sara Buenfeld. Expenses are paid for the six finalists and an accompanying adult to attend the final judging in London.
The schools attended by each of the finalists this year will be invited to join the ‘Chefs Adopt a School’ scheme run by the Academy of Culinary Arts. Under the scheme, members of the Academy ‘adopt’ a school and teach primary and secondary school pupils at that school about food, where it comes from, how to taste and how to cook it.For further information go to www.gfw.co.uk/campaigns/cookit_main.html.
"I have been following your blog as I am a keen blogger but at present my blogs are for what I do outside of work. However, I have been interested to see who in education makes use of blogs. We need to help young people use them safely and creatively. I recently found this website when I was researching some information I needed. Interestingly, I noted it for three reasons: firstly the head concerned is the head where I went to school and is the high school I went to, although it was a girls school and had a different name; secondly he has a blog (English Blog), thirdly he taught at Garforth; thirdly, he also taught at Huntington School so you possibly knew him? His teacher resources are pretty extensive and not just about English. He also has some interesting hobbies and some very interesting and useful resources. The site is http://www.geoffbarton.co.uk. His brilliant blog can be accessed from this site."
Carol also added...
"You asked for comments on your site – content - a great record, but my thoughts are that it would benefit from some design support that would make it easier to view and more visibly attractive. Whilst this may not be a priority it does encourage readership."
I'll work on Carol's suggestions for improving the blog and would welcome other feedback, suggestions and helpful hints.
Monday, 12 March 2007
I am told that only 7% of the messages we receive are the things we say. The other 93% is wrapped up in our body language, our tone of voice and our expressions. In a people organisation like ours we need to understand and practice the 93% rule. It’s really important that we understand how to communicate with our colleagues, with our schools and with our partners.
Here are a few practical tips you might like to consider:
¨ Listen and pay attention;
¨ Don’t interrupt or dismiss concerns;
¨ Use names;
¨ Focus and concentrate;
¨ Give genuine praise;
¨ Take a personal interest;
¨ Spend time;
Simply be your brilliant best.
110,000 children and young people in Leeds schools
18,000 colleagues in schools and Education Leeds
One hospice in Yorkshire for children and young people with life limiting conditions
250 children and young people across the county who benefit from Martin House’s care
£500 per week to offer care, support and accommodation for a young person at Martin House
How can you help...
20p from every child and young person in Leeds schools...
50p from every adult working in education in Leeds...
£30,000 for Martin House.
You’ve already helped us to show that a little thing makes a big difference. Huge thanks to all those schools who have helped us raise our first £10,000 for this very worthwhile cause. We hope many more of you will join us in another big push to raise more.
What a difference a day makes ...
The Be Healthy! 2007 campaign represents a truly city-wide push to build on all the excellent work which is being done to make Leeds a healthier place, including our Leeds Healthy Schools Standard, and Be Healthy! 2006. Be Healthy! 2007 was launched on Friday... children and young people from schools in Leeds were joined by Leeds Rhino star, Nick Scruton for the launch which also let schools know how they can take part in Be Healthy! 2007 - an initiative encouraging children and young people to devise and take their own challenge to either increase physical activity, eat more healthily or improve their emotional wellbeing.
Last year over 135 schools and 40,000 children and young people took part in the Be Healthy! Challenge. The initiative encouraged various activities across the city aimed at improving health such as sports events, telling a joke a day, swapping crisps for healthy snacks and taking part in a laugh-a-thon, crunch-a-thon or skip-a-thon. Being healthy is a choice - like swapping fatty snacks for an apple - and we’re working together with our partners across the city to make it an easy one for young people to make. We want all our children and young people to be happy, healthy, safe and successful.
Our wonderful schools and their brilliant School Councils are central to this work, and we're hoping to build on last year's 135 schools and 40,000 young people that took on their own "Be Healthy!" challenge and make this year's new campaign even more successful.
How are you going to get involved?
"We had a very successful conference and launch of the extended services toolkit on Saturday 7th March at Weetwood Hall. The event was attended by representatives from the Governors' and Headteachers' Forum. The contributions from colleagues, as well as the quality and level of debate, were energising and focused on the next steps. Congratulations to Mark Hopkins, Malcolm Lister, Angela Cox and Graham Septhon for their vision and motivating many other colleagues to contribute to the excellent toolkit. Paul Hudson's work in making the electronic toolkit user friendly was greatly appreciated by all at the event."
Thanks to Rehana and everyone involved for delivering what sounds like an excellent event.
To drive way the dark clouds we must simply remember what have achieved together over the last six years… something unique and very special… an education service that is delivering better and better outcomes for children and young people. Together we have changed the learning landscape here in this wonderful city and made a real difference. However, we can’t be complacent in this rapidly changing world and we must continue to raise the bar, to step up and to always strive to be brilliant in everything we do. We must be positive, confident, optimistic and creative… and practise, practise, practise!
Our key job over the next few months must be to ensure that we are pragmatic and focused on outcomes… we must get things done in the time available and process the things that need to be done as fast as possible. Always remember the 80:20 rule because there are always more important things to do and perfection simply isn’t achievable.
We must all be in touch with what is going on… we must listen more, get out and about and see what is happening. We must be brave and remember that it’s not just what you do, it’s the way that you do it that matters… and we must above all continue to talk team and retain our sense of humour.
We must work with positive people whenever we can… pick out the optimists and those who love life and join their teams. We must, wherever possible, avoid people who are cynical and depressing to be with. And we must never be defensive about our mistakes and failures… the only people who don’t make mistakes are those who do nothing, say nothing and are nothing.
And remember to…
¨ Focus but also remember to relax;
¨ Smile and laugh at life;
¨ Read and learn;
¨ Hug a friend;
¨ Celebrate real excellence and always say thank you;
¨ Share your experiences and your successes;
¨ Search for ways to have fun;
¨ Work hard but wear comfortable shoes!
¨ Breathe deeply when the going gets tough.
¨ Stretch and exercise regularly.
¨ Get cross and stamp your feet.
¨ Dance and sing;
¨ Touch your toes.
¨ Get enough sleep.
¨ Regularly take a break.
¨ Clean up the clutter.
¨ Get some sunshine.
¨ Count your blessings.
¨ Don’t dwell on the negatives.
¨ Never lie about anything important.
Always remember that you are here to learn.
Write it on your T-shirt!
We need to remember that we are creative individuals and talented learners with enormous potential and that wherever we are in this organisation we are part of a brilliant team. We must continue to build and support brilliant learning places for all our children and young people. We must come together to do this working across teams, across communities and across cultures. We must strike a spark that releases the passion and produces a special kind of magic… whatever it takes. Interestingly, I heard on the grapevine that the STEPS courses are going down really well...
I heard that the course facilitated by Anne Pennington George and Claire Norris was awesome and the feedback from colleagues attending the courses has been fantastic. The programme's success critically depends on the facilitators who I know are passionate advocates of STEPS and Investment in Excellence. I am graetful to the team of colleagues who are working on this great programme and particularly the following colleagues who have stepped in during the absence of a key colleague... Frances Bernstein, Brian Hogg, Joan Haines, Til Wright and Marcia Harding.
We must never underestimate what we can achieve as individuals… the power of one... and together as teams. There are hundreds of things you can do to make a difference. Here’s my list…
- Accept invitations and requests;
- Celebrate the positives;
- Learn from mistakes;
- Hug friends;
- Smile at strangers;
- Always say thank you;
- Share successes;
- Run, dance and sing;
- Recycle good ideas;
- Find ways to have fun.
Why not make your own list and send it to me.Keep the faith...
In February, Leeds Learning Network ran an Internet Safety Poster Competition in support of International Safer Internet Day 2007. They had a tremendous response from students across the city with over 300 entries. The winner was eight year old Sarah Caton from Fountain Primary School. Sarah won a copy of the Microsoft Student software for every member of her class and her poster has been printed and sent to all 450 education and learning centres which form part of the Leeds Learning Network. Sarah received her prize at a special assembly at the school on Friday afternoon.... and the poster is simply brilliant!
Sunday, 11 March 2007
P.S. If you want to find out more about fairtrade in Leeds visit http://www.fairtradeleeds.org/