Saturday, 7 July 2007

The Leeds 'Be Healthy!' Challenge reaches its' climax this week. Schools across Leeds have been taking part in this years 'Be Healthy!' Challenge and on Friday we will all come together to share what we have learnt. There is still time left to get involved...

They suggest the following physical activity challenges...
  • walk around the block a fixed number of times;
  • walk with friends during your lunchtime break;
  • pace yourself with a pedometer and set a target for the number of steps you do each day;
  • take the stairs instead of the lift;
  • Teach a friend to dance, or get them to teach you;
  • park further away and stride to work.

Great stuff. So what are you going to do? Se you on Friday!

Today is supposed to be a lucky day since seven is a lucky number wherever you are...

I was awake early and as it passed 7 minutes past 7 on the 7th of the seventh month of 2007,, I wondered who was going to have a really great day? Let me know what your day was like!
I went to 'Guys and Dolls' yesterday evening at the Grand Theatre in Leeds. Everyone had told me how fantastic it was but really you should all get out more!

Interestingly, I sat next to an elderly gentleman who told me that he had first seen 'Guys and Dolls' in 1945 as a soldier in France at the end of the Second World War and he was disappointed with this performance because he thought it was too slow and the singers weren't really strong enough or good enough. My son saw it a couple of years ago in London and Ewan McGregor was in it playing Sky Masterson alongside Jane Krakowski in a sell-out revival at London's Piccadilly Theatre and he said that it was fantastic. Honestly, it was OK but when I went to see 'Guys and Dolls' at Allerton Grange High School last year the three young men who sang were just as good if not better.

Friday, 6 July 2007

I ended the day at the retirement event for Tony Longworth, Principal and Chief Executive of Park Lane College...

Tony started here in Leeds at the same time as I did and we have worked together on many things over the last six years. The 14 - 19 landscape for learning has seen a revolution and Tony has achieved an amazing transformation at Park Lane College over the last six years and he will be missed.
I stayed at Beecroft Primary School for a meeting to discuss how we take forward a Kirkstall Children's Centre based on the Beecroft site...

The community is very fortunate to havethree great schools, Beecroft Primary School, Sacred Heart RC Primary School and St Stephen's CE Primary School, who are working together to look at how they can deliver Children's Centre services to their community as part of the second phase of the programme here in Leeds. June Turner, Gaby Nieland and Ian Blackburn are going to work together to take this forward as a unique model here in Leeds.
I went on to Beecroft Primary School to a concert to celebrate there success with a brilliant arts initiative...

The school under June Turner's powerful leadership has developed an initiative which gives every child the opportunity to play a musical instrument and the school has decided to enter the children for awards through the Royal School of Music. This reflects a huge commitment by the learning team at Beecroft but yesterday I was priviledged to see the results.

The choir and orchestra delivered a great little concert; fantastic singing and wonderful playing led by a great team... Helen Nutter, Jane Hurford and Jane Parker. At the end of the concert, I was delighted to present a talented group of flautists, violinists and recorder players with their awards and medals... simply brilliant!
I went on to have lunch with the Educational Psychologists at the Blenheim Centre...

They are a great group led by Chris Lingard and we talked about some of the big issues facing us all around Children's Services, Trusts, locality management, Extended Services and the universal offer. We all agreed that we need to do some 'blue sky' thinking around the 2020 landscape for learning to look at virtual school, human scale education and coaching and nurturing approaches. It was the sort of opportunity that we all need more of; one that really makes you think and also makes you realise the quality of the colleagues you work with.
I went on to the Pan-Universities Invitation Seminar at Leeds Met Carnegie...

Professor Lori Beckett had asked me to speak to the group about our work here in Leeds and I followed Associate Professor Martin Mills, a colleague from the University of Queensland, who was talking about 'Productive Pedagogies' and the need for us to maintain a strong focus on the craft of the classroom. You can find out more about 'Productive Pedagogies' at

I started the day yesterday at our 'Intervention Conference' at Trinity and All Saints College...

Chris Pollard and her colleagues had arranged the event for the wonderful team of coleagues involved across Leeds in intervention work in some of our schools facing the greatest challenges.
These colleagues were headteachers, senior leaders and SENCOs and their work has had a fantastic impact and helped us drive up standards and improve provision.

The session makes you realise that we have an incredible team here in Leeds and that whatever problems we have together we can find a colleague who has been there and done it. Our real challenge is to ensure that we take those little pieces of magic from each and every school across our great city and share it and network it and make our provision consistently brilliant!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

We are coming to the end of the Audit Commission survey period...

In the survey, which I know isn't all that friendly or relevant to the unique Leeds context, schools have the opportunity to provide feedback on what we are doing well and what we need to do better. I hope that every school in Leeds will fill in the survey on-line or on paper to give OfSTED, when they come in December to inspect Children's Services, the most complete picture of our services here in Leeds.

If you have filled it in... THANKS.
Sometimes in this job you are simply humbled by the achievements of others...

This evening was one of those moments when I went to Leeds Metropolitan University to recognise and celebrate the achievements of a group of our learning mentors. This group of 27 colleagues were the first group nationally to be awarded the new 'Working with Young People and Young People's Services' Foundation Degree. They have managed to juggle home, work and study and be really successful... 27 started the course and 27 completed the course and were awarded their degrees!

The course was developed by Gill Dawson and her colleagues and taught by Jo Bishop of Leeds Met and her colleagues. It has been a brilliant success and enabled a wonderful group of colleagues to achieve something really special. I hope to get a list of the names of this talented group of colleagues and a picture for the blog later this week.
My colleague Claire Thompson, one of my brilliant Health and Safety Team, wanted me to know this...

"Dear Chris, I went on a monitoring visit for a school, Whitecote Primary School to Arnside Youth Hostel with the group leader being Dave Tuck. I have to say that this was one of the best managed trips I have seen, particularly with regard to pupil behaviour.The children were exceptionally well behaved, particularly whilst walking through the village, and this was in no doubt due to the dedication and hard work of all the staff. I understand from talking to Dave Tuck that the school has a relatively new head teacher, Karen Allen, who has introduced a new behaviour policy which is obviously working. Claire"

It is great to hear that our schools are still going out on trips and about wonderful experiences like this.
The Department for Children, Families and Schools announcement today that Farnley Park High School is the latest Leeds school to receive specialist status...

This is great news for Bill Pullen and his incredible team at Farnley Park High School, and for the local primary schools and adult learners who will also benefit from the specialist provision. Bill and his learning team are leading the way to transform learning outcomes for this community, helping more of our young people to be happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.
Two of our colleagues are celebrating after being named the best in northern England...

John Townsley, Headteacher at Morley High School and Michael Wilding, Teaching Assistant at Allerton High School have won the best headteacher and best teaching assistant of the year categories in the 2007 Teaching Awards ceremony for the North of England.

Kathryn Clarke of Woodkirk High School and Elizabeth Caven of Allerton High School gained distinctions in the best secondary and best new teacher categories respectively and commendations were received by Christ the King Primary School in the sustainable schools category and Julie Casper from Wigton Moor Primary School in the governor of the year award.
The winners go forward to the televised UK ceremony held in London in October. Full details of the awards are available at
I went on to the Headteacher Forum at the David Lloyd Centre...

What always surprises me is the talent that turns up at these meetings. This meeting was really well chaired by Diane Reynard and was attended by some brilliant headteachers who as well as running great schools gave up some more of their time to share, network and learn.
I went on to Kirkstall St Stephen's CE Primary School where Ian Blackburn and his team are doing great things...

I really enjoyed the opportunity to look around the school... it's a great building which Ian and his colleagues have worked hard to develop and the new early years unit is a wonderful addition.
Ian told me about 'Wake Up and Shake Up' which is being led by a fantastic colleague but they have developed it for their older children through their Sports Partnership with St Mary's Catholic High School into a scheme called 'Funky Freddie'. You can find out more by visiting the St Mary's website at

It was also interesting to see the programme the team were doing with their Year 5 and 6 children training them all over an eight week period to be able to deal with someone who is having a heart attack. Brillliant stuff.
I started the day at Swinnow Primary School where Allison Chin and her team are doing great things...

I started early so I could attend Allison's Breakfast Club and I was also roped into dressing up as an Anglo-Saxon Lord to see the amazing things that the team were doing... the classroom floor was covered in straw and the children were cooking, thatching and digging and being Anglo-Saxon peasants! Another group were off on the train for a day out.

It's wonderful to visit a school where the team are confident enough to do things differently. As always the question you want to ask is what makes Swinnow Primary School such a brilliant school? The answers...
  • Allison's strong, focuconfident and passionate leadership;
  • a talented and enthusiastic learning team;
  • clear values and beliefs driving all aspects of the work of the school;
  • great teaching within a wonderful learning environment;
  • high expectations of every child and the whole learning team; and
  • some talented and wonderful young people!

Allison and her learning team are doing a brilliant job and have created a fantastic learning environment for the children in a really great school.


Tuesday, 3 July 2007

I have been thinking about how we might create a virtual school...

Interestingly, there was an article in the Times Educational Supplement last week about a science teacher who had condensed her terms work into a six minute powerpoint presentation which could be available to her students on-line. What if across Leeds we did this for every course and programme and focused staff time on coaching and mentoring and guidance. Students would merely have to access priogrammes and we could monitor their access and support them as required. Apple would add to this a series of videocasts and podcasts featuring the best scientists and historians and geographers and artists from across the world to ensure that all the pathways and programmes were rigorous, challenging and stimulating.

OK why not?
I went on to a meeting of Corporate Management Team with the Emergency Planning Team...

They took us through an exercise looking at how we would cope if the city was hit by a flu pandemic. Scary stuff with huge numbers affected, schools closed and lots of vulnerable people across the city dying from the virus. Still better to be well prepared in case the worst does actually happen.
I went on to the Attendance Champions Celebration at the Metropole Hotel...

Attendance Champions goes from strength to strength. This year 20000 children and young people had 100% attendance during March, up from 14000 last year. Jane Hall, John Normington and colleagues are doing an amazing job.

The bit of the Celebration I managed to catch included performances from the Steel Drums at Little London Primary School who were fantastic and the guitars and choir from Bramley Primary School who were brilliant.
I started the day with breakfast at the Garforth Hilton...

I had breakfast with the Outer East Family of Schools headteachers. They are a great group who run some wonderful schools. We talked about communications, devolving resources to area teams and trusts.
I spent the evening with Mick Waters...

Mick used to be Chief Education Officer in Manchester and before that worked with Tim Brighouse in Birmingham. Mick is now leading the QCA work on revising the curriculum in Key Stage 2 and 3. It was wonderful to be able to share ideas and listen to what Mick is trying to achieve at QCA. He was really impressed at what we are trying to do here in Leeds...
  • inspiring teaching;
  • an engaging curriculum;
  • a coaching culture;
  • brilliant learning places.

We need to support Mick and the QCA who are trying to ensure that we get a curriculum that is both rigorous and challenging but also powerfully engages young people in their learning.


I went to another wonderful and powerfully moving event this afternoon...

The Willows Young Carers Project is a brilliant partnership between Barnardo's and Education Leeds. I attended the launch of the Young Carers in Education CD-ROM at Leeds Town Hall. This had been produced by an amazing group of young carers supported by Shiela Davenport and Jenny Osborne. Nathan, Tara, Cammeron, Sara, Jamie, Megan and Danny told their stories and showed us the new CD-ROM... they are a truly awesome bunch of young people caring for brothers and sisters, mums and dads and grandparents and still managing to get to school and get on with their lives. The CD-ROM aims to help schools across Leeds understand and better support the huge number of young carers in the city.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Visiting the Heads of PE Conference reminded me of the Sunscreen Song. Just make sure that you read it more than once...

"Ladies and gentlemen if I could offer you one tip for the future this would be it…… wear sunscreen. The benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will give you this advice now….

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth..never mind you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. Trust me in twenty years you will look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t imagine how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

Don’t worry about the future or worry and know that worrying is about as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never cross your troubled mind… and don’t we know it!

Do one thing everyday that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts and don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste time on jealousy… sometimes your ahead sometimes your behind. The race is long and in the end it’s only with your self.

Remember the compliments you receive… forget the insults. If you succeed with this tell me how.

Keep your old love letters… throw away your bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life. Some of the most interesting people I know still don’t know what to do with theirs.

What ever you do don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself too much. Your choices are half chance… so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body.. use it everyway you can. Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it, it is the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance… even if you have no where to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly.

Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia… dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, washing it off, painting over the ugly bits and recycling it for more than it is worth.


The Sunscreen Song reminds us, in this crazy mixed up world of the National Strategies, the DFES, OFSTED that we musn't forget what is important and the things that really matter.
I have just got back from the Conference for Heads of PE Departments in our secondary schools...

The Conference, organised by my colleague Helen Plimmer, was about 'Turning Good Practice into Common Practice'. Our challenge here in Leeds is to build BRILLIANT... brilliant learning in brilliant learning places... brilliant learners with brilliant teachers and coaches. We all know that at it's best provision in Leeds is fantastic and achieving wonderful outcomes. We simply need to help the rest become as good as the best.

We need everyone to be happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful. All the evidence suggests that we need to increase three things... laughter, chocolate and exercise! Research suggests that those young people who do lots of sport do better across the board at school. Detailed studies have shown that young people engaging in the most intensive sporting activities do eight times better at GCSE!

We are achieving great results with the quest to get all young people engaged in 2 hours of high quality PE and Sport in the curriculum every week and another two hours outside school. But there is still a lot to do with older students, girls and young people from ethnic minority communities. The PE teams across the city are doing great things and changing lives and we must all learn from their passion, eenrgy, commitment and coaching expertise to help us drive up standards and build world class provision here in Leeds.
Three weeks to go to the end of term...

It's terrible but for once I am counting down the days to the end of this year.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Joe Hallgarten, Learning Director at Learning Partnerships, writing in the Times Educational Supplement this week...

"Design education around one aim: to identify and nurture talent. This is talent in its broadest sense not gifted in English, maths and science and talented in art, music and PE. The dictionary defines talent as an aptitude or ability, a capacity for achievement or success. As tal;ent generators secondary schools would become even more proactive, seeking and saying yes to real learning opportunities. Primary schools need to offer greater choice over the what, where and how their children learn. We have 'Every Child Matters' and 'Every Child Counts'... How about 'Every Child a Dreamer'."

You can find out more about Creative Partnerships at