Friday, 22 June 2007

It's been an incredible week... full, as always, of exceptional people who are making a real difference for children and young people here in Leeds...

I have dashed from a regional Artsmark Celebration to St Gregory's Catholic Primary School, from Blenheim Primary School to Fieldhead Carr Primary School, from the Primary Schools Celebration Concert to lunch with the BEST in West! Everywhere I go I see little pockets of brilliant practice... FAB Friends, Wake Up and Shake Up, early years, special needs, multi-agency work... you name it we have it at its' best here in Leeds.

Interestingly we also had some independent verification of this when we hosted a visit by colleagues from the University of Utrecht who were bowled over by our primary and special school provision. I also had it from the most important people ... the young people themselves... the wonderful Youth Council wanted to help us improve our provision but were also highly complimentary about some of the best of Leeds practice and provision.

It's a great place to be and we need to continue to work to ensure that all our young people are happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

I ended my day with the Leeds Youth Council...

They had asked to see me to talk about some the issues that young people across Leeds are concerned about. We talked about advice and guidance, work experience, options, school time-tables, gifted and talented programmes and the importance of hard work. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Youth Council who are an inspiring bunch of young people.
I went to another great school this afternoon...

I visited Fieldhead Carr Primary School and I was met at the school by my brilliant tour guides, Teshweer, Casey, Abbie and Poppy who gave me a great tour around the school including the 'Wake Up and Shake Up' session for the whole school. They were working on the next issue of their Fieldhead Carr Primary School News which they produce weekly... so I was interviewed and photographed!

I also met five of the schools' FAB Friends, Renee, Oliver, Shannon, Chloe and Kyle. FAB Friends is a brilliant whole school anti-bullying programme, and was set up to help the children have fun at break times, support children in recognising incidents of bullying and how to work together to stamp it out for good. Children in Years five and six are invited to formally apply for the job of FAB Friend for a term. They are interviewed and six children are appointed and trained to work with lunchtime staff and the schools' learning mentor. At the end of each term, the FAB Friends produce a questionnaire, and working with the deputy head and learning mentor, analyse the results to monitor the childrens' opinion about the quality of playtimes and level of support the programme offers in stamping out bullying... FANTASTIC!

You can find out more about this wonderfully creative initiative at the schools' web-site at Fieldhead Carr Primary School was recently judged by OfSTED as a satisfactory school with several good and exemplary features. I suppose I saw the best of the school during my visit but for me this is a great little school where David Wisnia, the headteacher, and his team are doing some brilliant things and releasing a special kind of magic.
I received a copy of the Bluewave Swift 'School-Wide Improvement from Today' and it is brilliant...

The School Improvement Handbook is the latest version of the Education Leeds Quality Standards Framework. It is a unique system which links information across key school processes to save time, reduce workloads and bureaucracy and to help schools focus on improvement.

The materials are fantastic and we are now trying to market them nationwide. You can find out more at
I had lunch today with Piet Van Der Ploeg and Laurence Geurin from the University of Utrecht...

I met Piet when I went to Brno to deliver a session at the Dalton International Conference. Piet was doing a session on the research into the effectiveness of the Dalton Method and having heard my input to the conference was really interested in what we are doing here in Leeds.

We arranged visits to Pudsey Grangefield High School, Victoria Primary School and the North East SILC. Piet and Laurence were clearly inspired by Tessa and her colleagues at Victoria Primary School and by Sue Towers and her colleagues at the SILC and felt that we could learn a lot from Dalton Method secondary provision in Holland.

The Dalton Method focuses on students taking responsibility for their own learning amd I think we need to send a group over to Holland to see what we can learn from their practice.
I ended my day at the Town Hall attending the Leeds Schools Music Association Festival Concert...

The concert was fantastic and involved around 50 primary schools and over 250 children. The real highlight of the evening, apart from the Percussion Group, was the performance by Year 5 from Cross Flatts Primary School who performed their own original composition 'Peace of Mind'. They had worked with Peter Spafford and Hugh Nankivell and visited the Royal Armouries to look at War and Peace.

The concert was yet another example of the excellence we have here in Leeds and the Artforms team showed once again how to release the talent we have in our schools and in our children.
I went on to have lunch with a nother group of unsung heroes...

Well perhaps not unsung but here is a team of colleagues whose story should be shouted from the rooftops! I had lunch with the West Behaviour and Education Support Team... Best West! Alison Moorhouse is lead behaviour professional and the fantastic multi-agency team is based at Intake High School. This is the future and Alison and her colleagues are already making a real difference for some of our most disadvantaged and challenging young people and their families.

You can read more about the BEST in their Handbook of Good Practice which has just been published. Copies are available from Lynn Turner who has led and managed this brilliant intiative since it started here in Leeds. Lynn is based at The Blenheim Centre and can be contacted on
I went on to another school in transition...

St Gregory's Catholic Primary School has been facing fallling rolls and questions about its' future. The school has around 90 children and it is proposed that the school closes in August 2008. Liz McDonagh Smith has been leading the school over the last year and has clearly done an exceptional job with a completely new Key Stage 2 team. Liz is moving on to take up her new post as Deputy Headteacher at Holy Rosary and St Annes Catholic Primary School in September.
I started the day yesterday at Blenheim Primary School...

I arrived early for breakfast with some great young people and also managed to fit in a fantastic 'Wake Up and Shake Up' session with parents and carers out in the school playground. Sally Ann Boulton has been doing a wonderful job managing the school during Mo Duffy's maternity leave.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Leeds Schools Win At Silverstone. Pete Thurlow, Area Manager South, sent me this update...

"Whilst British racing drivers lead the way in F1, Leeds drivers win at Silverstone! Bruntcliffe High School and Woodkirk High School were the first Leeds schools to participate in the national ‘Formula Schools’ design engineering competition held last week at the Northamptonshire circuit- and they came away with trophies.

In partnership with South Leeds City Learning Centre, Y10 students from the two schools have been working for the last two months to design, test and build scale radio controlled cars for the competition. They have had to run design competitions in school, attract sponsors from local businesses, pass pre-race scrutineering and prepare for the race with specialist manufacturing techniques, mirroring the requirements of real F1 teams. This all culminated in a tense race day last Thursday where the Leeds ‘rookies’ were up against experienced teams from all over the country.

Both Bruntcliffe and Woodkirk won in different categories. Woodkirk benefited from safe, reliable driving to win the second of their two heats. Bruntcliffe’s success was through their engineering and communication skills, taking the pit display prize and the body/aerodynamics trophy- the latter being sponsored and presented by Williams F1. Both teams succeeded beyond expectation, working to achieve for themselves as schools but also representing Leeds as a city- a big feature of the day was the mutual support and shared resources between the teams."

Well done to everyone involved for a brilliant project which once again has put Leeds on the map. Pet says that we’ll be back next year and that hopefully he’ll take a few more schools!
One of our local councillors sent me this...

"Hello Chris, I thought the attached may be of interest to you.

The Royal Bank of Scotland run a programme called Face2Face with Finance, which is free of charge to Schools. I thought that it might be of interest to those of use who work with the High Schools in our wards. The Face2Face with Finance Scheme is aimed at 11 to 18 year olds and introduces them to financial literacy via a paper format and web based training package. It can involve running an enterprise day in school and the Royal Bank makes no charge for delivering this service. Both RBS and Natwest have a dedicated website for Face2Face with Finance, these can be found at the following links and

Face2Face with Finance for Schools is a programme from RBS that aims to support young people in learning how to manage their personal finances. The programme is provided to teachers free of charge. Regards Cllr Terry Grashon"

Financial literacy is a hugely important aspect of the provision we should be making for young people here in Leeds and this looks very interesting. If you are interested in learning more about Face2Face with finance contact Margaret Hudson at the Royal Bank of Scotland who will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

I started the day at the Derek Fatchett CLC...

We had a Leadership Forum but my colleague Joan Haines had invited the brilliant 'Leeds Schools Percussion Ensemble' to play at the start of the day. Joan had seen the ensemble perform at the Wharfdale Festival of Performing Arts where they swept the board and were recognised as outstanding. Michael, Alex, Jennifer, Joseph, Jacob and Tom, led by our colleague Ray Payne from Artforms, showed us real talent, great teamwork and the importance of high quality coaching... it was a remarkable performance.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

I read another article by Oliver James over the weekend...

Oliver James wrote Affluenza - How to be successsful and stay sane. The article I read was about the old chestnut nurture versus nature and Oliver argues that it's not really a bit of both. The research is very clear that it is mostly nuture and that many aspects of our make-up have no heritability at all. More good news for those of us who believe that we can change the world for the better!
I read some interesting research over the weekend...

The research is from the Manchester Institute of Sport and Physical Activity. It suggests that children who engage in large amounts of physical activity are up to eigth times more likely to succeed at their examinations. Dr Gillian Burgess believes that being physically active is a contributory factor; with higher physical self-worth and self-esteem leading to greater levels of self-confidence. This makes young people more likely to succeeed! The research is currently being published at
Worth a look.