Saturday, 15 September 2007

Disciplined Action

Now take a look at your desk...

If you're like me and most hard-working colleagues, you've got a carefully documented to-do list. Now take another look... where's your stop-doing list? We've all been told that we can make things happen and that's true. Great colleagues distinguish themselves by their total commitment, determination and discipline to stop doing anything and everything that doesn't fit tightly within the things that really matter.

OK so start work on your stop-doing list and get focused on the things that matter.


"When children rule the world, tonight, when children rule the world.
When children rule the world, tonight, when children rule the world."
11 Million is the national organisation led by Professor Al Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner for England. The first ever 11 Million Takeover Day will be on 23 November 2007. It is a chance for the 11million children and young people in England to take over from adults. It is a way of celebrating the importance of young people in our society and Professor Aynsley-Green hopes that businesses and organisations across the sountry will demonstrate their commitment to children and young people for the day.
To find out more about 11 Million Takeover Day you can visit
I hope that every school in Leeds will get involved and let children rule the world... if only for a day!
I was reading how other Authorities are doing great things and picked up this from colleagues in Barnsley...

To succeed in an increasinglycomplex Children's Services world:
  • Articulate a clear core vision;
  • Instil a sense of moral purpose;
  • Ensure collective responsibility;
  • Work for equity, equality and diversity;
  • Develop leadership'
  • Base activity on evidence;
  • Focus on solutions;
  • Address the threshold issues;
  • Build social capital;
  • Carry on doing what you are doing well.

Sounds like good sense.


I read some great OFSTED reports recently...

It is reassuring to know that our dear friends at OFSTED sometimes get it right. I read the OFSTED Inspection Reports on Adel Primary School, Fountain Primary School, Holy Name Catholic Primary School, Rosebank Primary School and Shakespeare Primary School were all identified as good schools with great leadership and outstanding features.

Are you facing BURNOUT or BOREOUT?

"In any team you usually find a couple of people who take on most of the work while some of the team have little or nothing to do. The hard workers hurtle towards burnout while at least some of her colleagues edge towards boreout."
Peter Werder

In the book "Diagnosis Boreout: How a Lack of Challenge at Work Can make You Ill" Peter Werder challenges organisations to look at their teams and see whether they are heading for burnout or boreout. He says we should ask ourselves the following questions:
  • Do you feel under-challenged or bored at work?
  • Do you often complete private tasks at work?
  • Do you sometimes pretend to be busy at work when in reality you aren't?
  • Are you tired and apathetic after work yet haven't been challenged during the day?
  • Are you unhappy with your work?
  • Do you find your work meaningless?
  • Could you complete your work quicker if you wanted to?
  • Do you send private e-mails during work hours?
  • Do you use your personal mobile phone during working hours?
  • Do you have little or no interest in your work?

If the answer to more than a couple of these questions is yes, you may be heading for boreout! Talk to your teamleader, your Strategy Manager or Dirk, Ros or I and we will try to help.


Friday, 14 September 2007

I went on to Parklands Primary School to the first birthday celebrations for the Bridge Centre...

The Bridge Centre has a great team of colleagues, led by Alison Enoch,working with children with behavioural problems and it is achieving amazing results and making a real difference for some of our special children. Over the weekend I read the evaluation of their 'Moving On Programme' which touched over 300 young people from fourteen primary schools moving from primary to secondary school this year and again the impact has been amazing!

The Bridge Centre is yet another example of our brilliant provision here in Leeds. Our challenge is how we replicate the provision to reach all the young people who would benefit, all our children whose lives are not as happy, healthy and safe as they might be and around who we need to redouble our efforts to ensure that they are happier, healthier, safer and increasingly successful.
I started the day with colleagues from the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University...

We were talking to the Department for Children, Schools and Families about a strong partnership between Leeds City Council, Education Leeds and key city institutions and other interested parties to help us continue to drive school improvement in central Leeds.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

I went on to visit Middleton St Mary's CE Primary School...

This is a wonderful little school doing great things due in part to the energy, passion, commitment and hard work of Debbie Wood but also due to a really great team of people. Sadly, they are now managing without Debbie who is undergoing treatment for a recently diagnosed illness. Debbie Wood is one of those very special people who energise a room when they come in... small, bubbly, beautiful and incredibly talented and driven... and everyone misses her!

It is perhaps the greatest compliment to Debbie that the school continues to thrive and be a brilliant learning place under the strong and thoughtful leadership of Sarah Graham.
I try to attend all the induction sessions for new colleagues joining Education Leeds....

I went to one today and they were a generally young, enthusiastic and wonderful group from brilliant teams across the company. Going to these sessions simply makes you realise the potential we have in this organisation to do great things, to release the magic, to secure outstanding outcomes for all our children and young people. It also made me realise that the, I'm told, rather cliched 'talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful' label I so carelessly throw around does apply somewhere... it applies to this bunch of fantastic colleagues who bring so much to Education Leeds and will help us all continue to make a real difference!
As I am sure you all know 21st September is the United Nations International Day of Peace...

British filmmaker, Jeremy Gilley, launched the film project, ‘Peace One Day’, in 1999 to document his efforts to create the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
Education Leeds, in partnership with Together for Peace and Grangevale Homes, have organised ‘Respect for all faiths’ event featuring Terry Waite as Keynote speaker on 21st September 2007.

Children and young people are our greatest hope for World Peace and we must inspire, encourage and motivate them to become ambassadors for Peace. The event brings together children and young people from Leeds schools, along with representatives from the Leeds Interfaith group. In the Leeds context and globally, respect for all faiths is key in bringing about greater understanding and to resolving conflict. It is a testimony of our strengths in Leeds that
We want all our children and young people to join in the programme for equality, peace and justice and to help us promote community cohesion. We have developed the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard to promote race equality, tolerance and respect in our schools and this summer we launched our new Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education which provides an exciting and comprehensive framework to develop respect for all faiths.

The 21st September will be an exciting event with film clips from the ‘Peace One Day’ movie, and an opportunity to listen to Terry Waite talking about his experience of being a hostage in Lebanon and his determination to champion ‘Respect for all faiths’.

I hope to see many of you there.
It's a sad reflection on the world that happiness is in such short supply and that so many people are searching for it. I realised a long time ago that happiness is a state of mind not somewhere you get to if you have more money, more possessions and a bigger house and car. Someone told me yesterday about another colleague who has been diagnosed with cancer and I couldn't get her face out of my head. As a result I couldn't sleep again and last night I found this on the internet...

"Dance Like No One's Watching

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with, we will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire. The truth is there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D Souza. He said...

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way, so, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time... and remember that time waits for no one.

Stop waiting, until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again, to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy... Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Work like you don't need money.
Love like you've never been hurt and
Dance Like no one's watching. "
Author Unknown

Keep the faith and remember the things that matter.
It's grat to be able to share success stories especially when they are about some of our target groups. My colleague Sue Elmer from Social Services sent me this...

"I have been asked by Councillor Lancaster to pass on these good news stories which we heard about at the Foster Care Liaison Group meeting last week. The young people concerned had exceeded all expectations in their recent examinations. Jonathon Oakey has been accepted at Thomas Danby College for further study after achieving B's and C's in his recent GCSE exams. Similarly, Carl Daggit has been accepted at Leeds College of Art and Design after being awarded a prize in a national art competition. Natasha Granger has been accepted at the College of Music. Wayne Healey has been accepted at Bradford Unuiversity on the social degree. We are aware that many other young people have achieved similar success and a celebration event is being held on the 1st November."

Our developing relationship with Stockholm means that another group of colleagues for the city are coming over in two weeks time...

As part of this visit, we are delighted to offer colleagues the opportunity to attend a seminar about getting the most out of your life – having the energy to maximise your learning and teaching capacities – no matter what your age. Mats Peterson, who has been voted best public speaker in Sweden, aims to enhance people’s understanding of how the body functions, how habits influence wellbeing, and how small changes can reap enormous positive benefits in all aspects of life. An expert in nutrition and health and fitness, Mats has worked with Stockholm City Council, schools and teachers.

The seminar will take place on Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 4pm to 6pm at The Venue, Leeds College of Music, Quarry Hill, Leeds. Places are free and can be booked by emailing your name, organisation and contact details to:

Don't miss out on an opportunity to connect, network and learn... remember that successful critically requires us to be safe, happy and healthy!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

I went on to Woodkirk High School to yet another STEPS celebration...

I joined my brilliant colleagues Chris Bennett, who coordinates the STEPS programme, Jonathan White, headteacher at Woodkirk and Tony Mallard, headteacher at Fountain Primary School. We were there to celebrate the achievment of ten parents and carers who had completed the STEPS programme with three of our fantastic learning mentors from Woodkirk, Fountain and Blackgates Primary School.

Once again I was bowled over by the passionate commitment of the facilitators and the impact the programme has had on the mums... this programme really does change lives. If you need to find out more about the STEPS programme contact Chris Bennett at
I spent the early part of the evening with colleagues from the Council planning our input to the 'Good To Great' Conference on 26 September...

It is great to be part of a team working on something together and to use your strengths and talents together to make people understand about why we all love Leeds, the journey we have been on here in our city, our hopes and dreams for the future, the power of teamwork and the impact of distributed leadership in achieving brilliant outcomes and devlivering great services.
I spent the day with the secondary headteachers and the college principals...

We are trying to build a consensus around the way forward on 14 - 19 here in Leeds and it was a really positive and productive day with some incredibly talented colleagues who are making a real difference across the city and achieving good outcomes... the challenge is how to take that more consistently to great outcomes. We have agreed on a series of commitments and a programme of work to take this forward... so watch this space!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

I went on to the Leeds Initiative's 'influencing the big agendas' session at the Bangladeshi Centre...

The session had brought together people from grassroots BME community organisations, staff from BME voluntary organisations, representatives from BME faith organisations, BME workers from a range of public sector agencies, BME community activists and workers in public agencies with a responsibility for delivering to BME communities.

I had been asked to deliver a short session on the challenges we face in education, the progress we have made and our proposed improvement priorities... a short session!

Anyway the session went down very well... our real challenge is to learn from what is working and to work with parents and carers, communities and young people to continue to improve outcomes for our underachieving groups.
I started my day at Woodlands Primary School...

I had written to Chris Walton about his wonderful OFSTED inspection outcome and again about his results. I think the tone of my second letter had upset Chris and I am sorry about that... it was intended to be both challenging and supportive. I was attempting to know more about the challenges schools like Woodlands face and how we can better configure our services to help drive better outcomes.

I visited the school and I was astonished at what I saw... this is a school going places under Chris' very skilful leadership; leadership that extends to everyone in the school. It's wonderful to visit a school in challenging circumstances where the team are delivering the basics and confident enough to do things differently. The focus on data and monitoring all aspects of what the school does is deeply impressive and very obviously having an impact.

As always the question you want to ask is what makes Woodlands Primary School such a brilliant learning place? The answers...
  • Chris' strong, focused, confident and passionate leadership;
  • a young, talented, enthusiastic and determined learning team;
  • clear values and beliefs driving all aspects of the work of the school;
  • a focus on positive behaviour and discipline, linked to the PDC;
  • an exciting, relevant and rewarding curriculum focused around the basics;
  • great teaching within a wonderful learning environment;
  • high expectations of every child and the whole learning team;
  • regular and shared tracking, monitoring and interventions;
  • hard work by everyone involved!

Chris and his learning team are doing a brilliant job and have built something really special at Woodlands Primary School.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Charles Schultz Philosophy

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read the e-mail straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia."
Charles Schultz
"To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you are bogged down by the belidgerent, the uninformed, the difficult, the critics and the false friends always remember that we have made such a difference to so many children, young people,their families and communities and that we still have so much more to give and so much more to do.
Have you seen any great films recently?

Over the Summer I saw The Simpsons Movie and The Bourne Ultimatum which the reviews made you believe that here were two great films. I thought they were both good films but neither were great films… the Simpsons film had some really good bits and made me laugh and the Bourne film was really fast and engaging but, to be honest, the camera shots when action speeded up made me travel sick.

Over the weekend I saw ‘Atonement’, which again has had outstanding reviews. Again, I would say a film worth watching but not a great film.

So, let me know if you have seen any great films recently.
I’ve had a series of meetings today and more than ever in this crazy world we need colleagues who inspire us, who make us think and who create opportunities for themselves and for those around them. If we are serious about ensuring that every school in Leeds is a good school, an improving school and an inclusive school where every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and successful we need exceptionally gifted individuals who release magic and make things happen. We need people brimming with enthusiasm and full of new ideas and people who are constantly looking for ways to achieve their own personal and professional challenges. People whose talents and skills are used to leave a mark and make a real difference here in Leeds.

So where are these superheroes I hear you ask. These wonder-women and wonder-men who are fired by passion and imagination and filled with personal drive, driven by a supreme work ethic and ambition and inspired by what they can achieve and what they can help others to achieve. People who constantly set themselves new challenges and goals, go on to achieve them and then set new ones. People who push themselves to the limit to ensure that their talents are fulfilled and their potential is realised.

Where are they, simply look around… these people are everywhere and the question we must ask ourselves is what’s stopping you from believing that you have your own special talents and that you can achieve brilliant things. Be passionate, be committed, be determined. Set yourself ambitious goals, keep moving yourself forward and you will achieve something truly spectacular.
Which team do you support? Do you dream about playing for the winning team? Do you wear the shirt?

Great teams work for each other and the team. No egos, no stars, just the team and the desire to win, to be the best. The team ethic and focus is about passion, pride, persistence, determination and camaraderie. Great team players fill the shirt with pride and passion.

We can all dream about playing for a winning team. But it isn’t simply a dream. You are wearing the Education Leeds shirt, you are playing for the Education Leeds team. So go out with passion and pride; with courage and determination; with energy and hard work. And be a winner!
Strangely perhaps, while success is something we are all searching for, academics have found that money, promotion and other material rewards achieve less pleasure and engagement than intrinsic motivation. Lack of passion, commitment and engagement makes for worse performance and if we focus on rewards people can become disconnected from the pleasure of the activity itself.

In his book “Affluenza: how to be successful and stay sane”, Oliver James explores the fundamental difference between children in China and children here in the UK. In China, up to four years old, children are surrounded by kindness and infant-centred nurture. At four, however, it is a different story! Extremely strict training is the rule with public humiliation of any bad behaviour.

Despite all this children in China are committed to their parents, their communities and to their values. Perhaps because parents combine strictness with love and understanding. The challenge for those of us who care about the fundamental decline we are seeing in standards, behaviour and discipline is how do we do it here?

Message of the Week Three

Alone we can do so little but together we can achieve so much. In fact, together here in Leeds, what couldn’t we achieve?

After the GCSE results I visited some of our secondary schools where they have achieved remarkable things over the last couple of years. I managed to get to John Smeaton Community College, who are just moving into their fantastic new building, and also visited Cockburn College and Carr Manor High School. These three schools show us what is possible with strong leadership, great team work, highly effective systems for dealing with behaviour and discipline, regular and systematic student tracking, monitoring and interventions and above all, a great curriculum and brilliant teaching.

Teamwork is about working together to achieve common goals, it is the fuel that allows ordinary people like you and me, to achieve extraordinary results... like at these three outstanding schools where John Daulby, Colin Richardson and Simon Flowers have shown us that anything is possible if you believe.

Our achievements and successes don’t happen by accident. They happen because of individuals' passion, commitment, energy and effort. To achieve outstanding outcomes we need to all pull together in the same direction. Our challenge is to harness that individual commitment to a team effort. It’s what makes a great school work, a great company work and a great society work. We also need to build in respect, support and equity for each and every member of the team… so that each colleague in their proper place can play their part to the best of their ability.

As the education world staggers into another new set of structures and a new set of initiatives in the latest attempt to solve the problems we face, it is really important that we approach this new world with growing confidence. We need to continue to build a team spirit, a team ethos, a team approach that harnesses the passion, energy and commitment of everyone through the good times and bad times.

I know that change always causes anxiety, but remember that it always provides opportunities for people who rise to the challenge, as we have seen at John Smeaton, Cockburn and Carr Manor. The future lies with those individuals, teams and services who continue to be responsive, to provide creative and imaginative solutions, and to offer highly effective challenge and support.
Our partners want energy and honest commitment, genuine value and real opportunity. Those who know us well know that’s what you get from Education Leeds.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

I found this story in a book and then discovered it was everywhere across the web...

"When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar...and the coffee...

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, " I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.The golf balls are the important things: faith, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else.....the small stuff.

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the things that really matter first.....the golf balls. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled."I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

A great story... anyone for coffee!
It has also been a weekend of great sport… the football, the cricket and the rugby world cup.

I love sport. and just like sport, what we do here at Education Leeds is about strategy, planning, tactics and coaching. We all know that great planning is essential for success, as is having clear goals and targets to aim at. We need to continue to visualise success and really go for it, making certain that we get there….. it could be your own personal or professional development; that night class or the Masters you’ve been talking about for years… it could be an outstanding project or initiative your are working on… the Inclusion Strategy, the 14-19 Strategy, the extension of the ISP …. or it could be the London Marathon or the Race for Life.

Every day is about hard work, focused energy and effort and we can never afford to rest on our laurels as Power 100 Team of the Year or as a Beacon Council… that was yesterday’s success and we must constantly strive to be the best we can today and tomorrow. We must remain unique and different, set new standards and stay ahead. When it comes down to it, as I always say ‘it’s all about ATTITUDE.’ Skills can be learned, experience gained, knowledge and understanding taught but it’s your personal attitude and ambition that will drive our success and your determination to keep going when the going gets tough.

We must all motivate ourselves and everyone in our teams with an unshakeable belief that whatever happens, OFSTED, JAR, contracts, people moving on, politics, ordinary people like you and me can do extraordinary things. We see it all the time and I know it’s a challenge but our attitude can release a very special kind of magic and achieve outstanding outcomes… but only if you believe!
Keep the faith.
What did you read over the Summer?

My Summer reading list included:
  • ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards;
  • ‘The Mission Song’ by John Le Carre;
  • ‘Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow’ by Haruki Murakami;
  • ‘Crazy as Chocolate’ by Elizabeth Hyde;
  • ‘Next’ by Michael Crichton;
  • ‘His Dark Materials’ by Philip Pullman;
  • ‘The Obvious’ by James Dale;
  • ‘Transform Your Life’ by Penny Ferguson;
  • ‘The Key’ by Junichiro Tanizaki;
  • ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins.

I have just bought ‘Exit Music’ by Ian Rankin, which is the latest and presumably the last ‘Rebus’ novel. Interestingly, my colleague Katy Hockridge told me that after reading the Ian Rankin ‘Rebus’ novels I should read Peter Robinson’s crime novels which are set in Yorkshire.

Let me know the great books you've read this Summer.

Set yourself three goals for the term, AND...

  • Be passionate;
  • Be focused;
  • Be organised;
  • Be determined;
  • Be persistent;
  • Be discliplined;

AND just do it!