Thursday, 5 April 2007

A colleague sent me this brilliant quote...

"If you want one year of prosperity, grow seeds.
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people."

Chinese proverb


Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Someone asked me recently why I did this...

There are times when I ask myself the same question because, to be honest, I sometimes think I must be talking to myself. A colleague told me that that was no bad thing because at least that way you get intelligent conversations... However, to be serious, I need to know whether this is good use of my time and whether it is making any difference. The blog will go quiet over Easter but if you want it to start up again afterwards please let me know.
Have a great Easter break... remember it should be dark chocolate!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

I have just had a really good meeting with two of my secondary headteacher colleagues...

I am always inspired by listening to other people's ideas and suggestions about how we tackle some of the endemic problems we face here in Leeds and in most of the big cities... too many young people leaving education with no qualifications or skills, some chronic underachievement amongst disadvantaged groups, groups of young people disengaged from learning and a fundamental skills shortage in areas desperately needed by local employers.

I spent a really useful hour with Ken Cornforth, Headteacher at Pudsey Grangefield School, and Bob Stott, Headteacher at Wetherby High School, talking about the 14 - 19 Review we are currently working on with the Learning and Skills Council. Interestingly, the areas we talked about most were around learner entitlement, leadership, coaching and guidance.

The most important thing was the feeling that we can do this. We know what we need to do. We can build brilliant learning places where young people will achieve world class outcomes.
"If I lay here, if I just lay here,
would you lie with me and just forget the world.
Forget what we're told, before we get too old;
show me a garden that's bursting into life."

As you know I love music, all sorts of music... opera, classical, rock, indie... anything...

...and being the sharing and caring human being that I am, I wanted to share something great with you. I discovered this band by accident... I was driving home the other night and as I searched for something to listen to, I heard this amazing track... it's called 'Chasing Cars' and the band are called Snow Patrol. I have now listened to their album called "Eyes Open" and it's fantastic... melodic, great lyrics and I can't stop listening to it!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Geoff Roberts, a governor at NW SILC and the Elmete BESD SILC was stimulated to contact me after reading the article I wrote for the latest Governors' Bulletin; it's good to know that someone reads it...

Geoff writes...

Hi there Chris, I found your first page article in the last Governors’ Bulletin heartening and the overflow onto p2 rang so many bells for me. You asked what I have learned over the years; I will limit myself to learning about change, which has been the focus of my professional practice for the last 20! I find myself intrigued by the comparisons between running a for-profit entity and a school. There are more similarities than many seem to recognise – budgets that are never enough, variable leadership/management capability, a range of employee engagement, often poorly-understood customer needs and less than adequate communications channels with them, often a lack of clearly defined strategic vision and people stuck in the past, poorly defined targets in the sense of both driving appropriate behaviours and their SMARTness….I could go on. Conversely there are shining examples of good practice that often don’t get picked up by others – the ‘not invented here’ syndrome!, some truly dedicated people albeit often dedicated to the profession rather than any individual organisation, people and companies constantly driving for improvement…

As a change agent I carry around a large number of models/tools/ideas and just a few key thoughts:
  • Start from where you are. It might not be where you want to be, but you cannot realistically start from anywhere else.
  • Do what you can, where you can, when you can. There are so many doors to explore during a process of change that I no longer waste my time pushing against stuck ones, I spend time identifying open doors and then go through them to stimulate change.
  • The Ripple Effect. Everything I do has consequences, positive or negative, beyond the immediate audience.
  • It’s about people. The processes, procedures and the like are important and the fanciest most effective organisation in the world needs people to run the kit. Focus on the people and the rest will follow.

Thanks for the stimulation of your article Chris.

The SILCs have come along way since I started here in Leeds. Governance is about strategic leadership and it is reassuring to have colleagues of the calibre of Geoff taking forward the special educational needs agenda.


Sunday, 1 April 2007

Now we are SIX!

“Sculpture is a wonderful thing… inside every piece of stone is a beautiful statue… all you have to do is get rid of all the stuff that gets in the way.”

I have been in Leeds for nearly six years… and today… 1st April 2007… Education Leeds is six years old! They say time flies when you are having fun and it has been great fun thanks to the brilliant, talented, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues who have made me laugh, made me smile and brightened my life over these six incredible years.

At it’s best our schools, our educational provision and our support services here in Leeds are breathtakingly wonderful and my colleagues are just incredible.

Just look what we have achieved together over the last year.

Let’s make sure that we continue to clear away the stuff that gets in the way and release the magic…. whatever it takes!