Friday, 31 August 2007

My colleague Pat sent me this poem by Walt Whitman. It's from a longer wonderful poem called Song of the Open Road...

"Here is the test of wisdom,

Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,

Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having it,

Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,

Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,

Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;

Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,

They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds

and along the landscape and flowing currents.
Here is realization,

Here is a man tallied--he realizes here what he has in him,

The past, the future, majesty, love--

if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them."
Walt Whitman

Thanks Pat

Thursday, 30 August 2007

I popped in to the David Young Community Academy last week...

I wanted to go to congratulate Ros McMullen and her team on everything they have achieved over the first year of the new Academy's life. It was always going to be hard but they have achieved fantastic things, including some really improved GCSE results. Interestingly Ros isn't satisfied with the results and wants to see much better results next year.

They are doing something quite remarkable at the Academy and really making a difference for these young people, their families and the community.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

I was reading all the publicity about new products, games and DVDs to keep your mind alert and active. The mind is similar to the muscles of the body: if you don't use it and give it a good workout every day, it will become flabby...

A flabby mind and flabby thoughts drain your energy and limit your actions and prevent you from being at your best and attaining all the things you want in life and at work. The first step is to understand once and for all that you, and only you, can create magic in your life. The second step to successful living is to learn how to be a winner.

The only limitations in your life are those that you set for yourself. We all know, because Lou Tice told us recently, that when you think without limits and have great dreams, wonderful things happen and powerful forces come into play. Anything you deeply believe you can achieve, you will achieve if you take persistent action in that direction. Keep your dreams at the front of your mind. Repeat them all day, every day and never, let go of them.

When you concentrate all your mental and physical energy on a single purpose, forces that you never knew you had are sparked into action. This is the secret of genius: finding what you love to do and then spending all your time doing it. As one wise person has said: once you find what you truly love doing, you will never have to work another day in your life.

People with far less than you have achieved great things. So what's stopping you being remarkable?
My colleague Fiona Pacey who heads up the Music Team in Artforms replied...

"Dear Amanda and Neil,

Thank you for your e-mail. I'm forwarding it, together with my reply, to the conductor of the Youth Orchestra, Dougie Scarfe. I agree, the orchestra played to an extremely high standard at the Ripon concert. Your supporting comments in its continuation are much appreciated. The orchestra has been in existence since the early 1960s; in the 1990s when many music services and activities were under threat or even abandoned, Leeds was very supportive and we were able to continue and even expand . When the result is performances such as the Ripon one, I'm sure you'll agree that Leeds' support has been well rewarded.

You will be pleased to know that there are no threats to the orchestra's future at the moment. A trip to Poland is planned for next summer and Dougie has some very exciting programming in hand, including a performance of Vaughan Williams' Sinfonia Antarctica.
Best wishes, Fiona"

At its best Leeds is simply amazing!
My Colleague, Anne Cowling who manages the Leeds Healthy School and Wellbeing Programme contacted me...

"We are extremely delighted to inform you that at least 58,501 young people have so far been recorded as being involved in the Be Healthy! Challenge this year, to 'do one thing well' - related to emotional health, physical activity or healthy eating. The Challenge ran from March through to July 07. Some schools/settings have not yet sent through information, so the figure is likely to be higher still. Last year the number was 40,000, so we are of course really pleased with this. Many schools got involved a second year round because they had such good fun last year, but we have captured more new schools/settings this year. We are also particularly delighted that the participation process in this social marketing campaign has been much more systemic in its approach this year. The challenge, the development of the toolkit, it's roll-out to schools through wedge based training events in March, the development of the website and the final celebration event in July were all devised & led by young people belonging to the Be Healthy! group, linking in with Youth on Health and the Youth Council. The Be Healthy! Campaign, co-ordinated by Isla Grayson, and linked in with the Feelgood Leeds campaign - is an excellent example of a participative social marketing campaign with schools, Early Years and Youth settings, supported by integrated service working, and goodwill from partners such as the Leeds Metropolitan University and the Leeds Rhinos. In the autumn we will be looking to evaluate the impact in a cross section of settings in terms of health behaviours, impact on school improvement and value for money. We will keep you updated ! We have a fantastic DVD which captures the essence of Be Healthy! for those who are interested in borrowing a copy. The young people Be Healthy! group are hoping to write a newsletter in the autumn term, and follow up with any questions that arose during the conference."
Anne and the team have had an incredible year and are probably the team of the year! It makes you wonder what they will do next... they are simply brilliant!
I went to the White Rose Study Support Centre today to one of their Summer Schools...

My colleague Mark Hopkins took me out to the Centre where two of our amazing colleagues were co-ordinating the Summer School, working with an arts company from Wakefield. The young people from Morley High School, South Leeds High School and Morley Newlands Primary School were preparing for a performance on Saturday at the South Leeds Festival. The young people were making bird masks when I visited.

They were a great group of young people and the arts team and our colleagues passion, energy and enthusiasm shone out throughout my brief time with them. If only we could bottle it!
It is really nice to receive compliments...

"We attended the concert given by City of Leeds Youth Orchestra in Ripon on 20th July, 2007 and it was fantastic. The venue was really good and enabled the Musicians to show off their skills and abilities to the best. Please pass on our thanks for their hard work and dedication as it takes a good deal of time and effort rehearsing to be that good. A great night given by some very promising young people.

Well done to Leeds City Council for promoting and supporting the Orchestra, it is a great credit to the city. We can only hope that some misguided Government directive does not snuff out this great scheme.
Best wishes,
Amanda and Neil"

Leeds young people are simply amazing!
I received some really sad news yesterday...

Jennie Lindon, who worked in Organisational Change Team here at Merrion House and was a Headteacher of a Leeds Primary School died peacefully at home on Thursday 23 August after a brief illness. Jenny made a significant contribution to the work of Education Leeds and over the last couple of years provided really valuable help and support to schools going through closure and reorganisation across Leeds. She will be sadly missed by us all.

The funeral will take place on Monday 3 September at St Wilfreds Church, Duchy Road, Harrogate at 1.30pm.


Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Message of the Week

Looking back over the last year, we have had another great year with some real successes. Remember, we are the Public Sector Power 100 Team of the Year and we achieved our first Beacon Award for Healthy Schools. We have also seen real progress with the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard being adopted by the Morley Schools and the Inclusion Chartermark being re-endorsed. OFSTED inspection results generally have been good and the GCSE results have improved significantly so we are also continuing to close the gap.

However, when it comes to some of the most important things we need to constantly ask ourselves whether we have really changed the deeply embedded culture and attitudes which seem to simply accept things as they are… and why we still suffer from pockets of poor attendance, poor behaviour and poor standards. Imagine what we could achieve together if everyone was as passionate, as committed and determined, as prepared to go the extra mile and as focused and as excellent as the most inspiring and exceptional colleagues in Education Leeds and in our schools.

These next few months are critical for Education Leeds and Children Services as we approach the Joint Area Review. We need to use this opportunity to refresh and rethink, to renew the vision, to recharge the batteries and to boldly go into 2008 to change the world and release the enormous potential in our teams, our schools, our colleagues and our children and young people. As another academic year begins, we need extraordinary colleagues to bravely and boldly go where we’ve never been and we need an extraordinary back up team to provide support as and when they need it.

Whenever someone does something extraordinary, it shows us all what is possible… you just have to look at the results last week. We must challenge each other to clearly articulate our goals and our roles and make belonging to Education Leeds a vibrant, exciting and dynamic part of our lives. I’ll be trying to get to as many team meetings and talking to as many of you as I can to listen to your views and to get your advice, help and support for the next stage in our journey to excellence.

Just don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done!