Friday, 16 November 2007

And finally at the end of yet another week I took Rosemary Archer out for a cup of coffee while we talked about the 14 - 19 Review and the Inclusive Learning Strategy.
Then it was over to the Civic Hall for the feedback from the Joint Area Review team at the end of their information gathering week...

There were no surprises and the focus will be largely around provision for children with learning disabilities and the 14 - 19 provision in Leeds.
I moved on to Merrion House to collect for Children in Need...

I had been challenged to wear a white shirt for the first time for ages and we raised about £350.
I moved on to the Healthy Schools Celebration event at Castle Grove in Headingley...

The Healthy Schools team had organised a series of workshops for the schools who had achieved Healthy Schools status since the Summer. The theme of the session was Break Times which links to the launch of the fantastic 'Emotional Health and Well-being Strategy' and supports the work we are all doing to address the problem with childhood obesity.

The schools who attended with groups of young people attended three workshops:
    • a physical activity session;
    • a healthy eating session;
    • an emotional health session.

AND a great time was had by all!


I started the day at Garforth Community College talking to Paul Edwards about the support he is providing for South Leeds High School.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the collection for Children in Need. I'll let you know later how much we raised...

Next Friday we celebrate the last day of Anti-Bullying week and everyone is being asked to dress in blue to demonstrate your commitment to making young people safe and tackling bullying wherever we find it.

Why don't you do something and get sponsored and raise some money towards our £50,000 total for Martin House. All ideas welcome... and please let me know what you would like the Chief Executive to do to get your money.
My colleague David Bateson sent me this...

"Hi Chris just some information for your blog following the presentation last night @Castle Grove Hall.......... 22 Staff fom the Pupil Development Centres and Inclusion Workers from PAS have successfully completed a year long programme and produced some fantastic folders about the work they have done as a result of the programme, It was a great celebration because we had Carol Jordan and Chris Pollard presenting the certificates and congratulating the participants on the innovative and exciting work they do which has positive outcomes for young people.

We should be proud of the way colleagues are working together on this programme and how the succesful participants can become advocates and facilitators of the programme. All 22 received the DCSF certificate and some staff are interested in accessing additional qulalifications linked to the programme. One of the group took some photos which we hope to share with you once he's learnt how to download them.Carol has a short briefing paper which I could forward if you need it. Cheers David.

PS the next group is starting in January 2008"

David is right we have some amazing work going on and some amazing colleagues doing it.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) has announced plans for an innovative strategy to enhance the capacity of school leaders to secure primary schoolchildren's wellbeing and skills for life...

NCSL has been given the go ahead from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families to begin some sustained work on primary school leadership – including developing further the role of highly skilled school business managers that could save up to a third of headteachers' time. To find out more visit the national College website at
I then met with Abdul Udin and Frank Hartle from the Hay Group...

The identification and development of future school leaders is a key strategic challenge. Sustaining the flow of high-quality school leaders is critical to achieving the best outcomes for all our children and young people. The most effective leaders and practitioners must be encouraged and enabled to work where their skills are most needed. Frank has written some materials for the National College for School Leadership on succession planning and the challenges we face with recruiting, keeping and managing leadership talent. They are working with hampshire and other authorities to develop local programmes and we are looking at how we might further develop this work here in Leeds.
I spent most of the day on a bus ride around the city with the inspectors...

And I learned such a lot about the city; it's history, it's geography and it's highlights. We visited Bridgewater Place the 30 story block which is home to Eversheds and a lot of upwardly mobile people. The views from the top were breathtaking and as it was s sunny day you could see the whole of Leeds. We passed the New Bewerley Community Primary School and Children's Centre as we went on to the Two Willows Children's Centre in Beeston which is an amazing oasis of care and support for children and their families. We went next to the new Swimming and Diving Pool at the John Charles Stadium which is a brilliant addition to that fabulous campus. Then passed South Leeds High School and on to Roundhay Park and to Carr Manor High School. At Carr Manor we had lunch with students and staff team members before a quick session with Simon Flowers the headteacher. Everyone was really impressed with the school, it's staff team and the wonderful students. Finally we visited the Meanwood Recycling Centre before finishing our tour back at the Victoria Quarter for coffee with business partners.

It was a great session organised brilliantly by Marilyn Summers and her colleagues.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

I finished the day as I started it with Ros and Dirk and a small group of primary headteachers. Not breakfast this time but tea... an inspiring session.
Next stop was to meet with the Teenage Pregnancy National Support Team who were looking at our strategy and its impact. We are doing great things with young mums, young dads and prevention. However we need to do more around our PSHE programmes to target vulnerable young people, address alcohol abuse and help young people manage risk.
I went on to Executive Board to present a paper on 'Excellence and Inclusion' the Learning and Skills Council's formal public consultation document on proposed changes to the organisation of Further Education provision here in Leeds. The proposals aim to establish a new institution through merging the existing provision at Joseph Priestley College, Leeds College of Building, Leeds College of Technology, Park Lane College and Leeds Thomas Danby.
I then went briefly to a lunchtime session to meet the Joint Area Review team...

They look very normal and hopefully the team will be able to understand the context, the real strengths in our provision and importantly help us with our journey to deliver brilliant outcomes for all our children and young people and their families.
I went next to the Queen's Hotel to meet Lord Adonis with Cllr Richard Harker...

Lord Adonis was in Leeds to talk at the Girls Schools Association and had asked to see Cllr Harker and I about the progress we are making with the secondary standards and transformational agenda... Trusts, Federations, Academies and all that!
I went on to the first meeting of a new group...

The Business Education Strategy Group aims to review current arrangements and establish a more coherent strategic framework for delivering the business-education agenda here in Leeds.
I'll keep you posted!
It's been one of those starts to the day when you think I should have rolled over and gone back to sleep...

The A64 from York was a nightmare this morning and it is always difficult to work out why. I managed to get to the Breakfast Meeting with headteachers on time but only to discover that the hotel had forgotten to arrange breakfast. Still when you are with colleagues from the Seacroft Manston, Richmond Hill and Inner East Families of schools it doesn't seem to matter what is going on around you... and looking around the room, at the faces, I know that the focus is on brilliant provision, on improving outcomes, on raising standards and on meeting the real needs of children and their families. These issues are at the heart of everything these colleagues are doing. These are great schools doing great work in some of the most challenging circumstances.

The challenges these colleagues raised with me were:
  • can we refine and improve the Financial Management processes everyone is going through to recognise the size and context of the school?
  • can we provide more help with the large number of non English speaking children arriving in schools across Leeds?
  • can we duplicate and maintain initiatives like MAST?
As a listening and learning organisation we will look at these issues and get back to colleagues. The last two are critically important aspects of the Inclusive Learning Strategy and of the Children's Services approaches we are developing here in Leeds.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

I was reminded again recently that we need to continue to work to find more effective strategies for keeping our children and young people safe and for dealing with bullying…

Bullying is not an inevitable part of school life or the workplace and if we are serious about tackling this endemic and corrosive problem which blights the lives of so many of our children and young people we must look again at the bigger picture and develop strategies that recognise the problems are systemic and involve the whole school community including parents. We must work closely with our schools to help them develop strong and effective positive behaviour and anti-bullying schemes and work with whole school populations to take a strong grip on the root causes of bullying. It can only be stopped if governors, headteachers, teachers, support staff, lunchtime supervisers and the whole school community supported by parents and carers are totally committed to developing and implementing positive behaviour and anti-bullying strategies.

We know that children and young people are more comfortable talking to another child or young person when they have a problem. All the evidence suggests that peer support, buddying and mentoring are key elements at the heart of our most inclusive practice and at the core of the best behaviour strategies and anti-bullying schemes. We need to listen to our children and young people more; in classrooms, through circle time, through school councils, through Youth on Health and the Youth Parliament. We must also reach out to hard to reach groups to listen to their stories and learn how we can do better. All our schools must work hard to engage and involve children and young people in developing and implementing strategies to develop positive behaviour and resilience, to build more inclusive provision, to protect our most vulnerable and special children and to tackle bullying.

What are you doing about this?
We certainly live in interesting times. The pace of change is quickening and it becomes harder and harder to keep a sense of perspective… a sense of what is important...

What with children’s centres, the foundation stage curriculum, phonics, assessment for learning, progress targets, the intensifying support programme, new Key Stage 2 thematic approaches, a new curriculum in Key Stage 3, new 14 – 19 provision, 14 diplomas, apprenticeships, the LSC review, Trusts, Federations, Academies… the list goes on and on!

The Education Leeds team in Children’s Services is facing it’s fourth inspection this term. We have already had:
· National Strategies Review;
· 14 – 19 Progress Check;
· Annual Performance Assessment.

AND we are now engaged in the Joint Area Review!

However, our focus remains to work with our colleagues across Children's Services and the Council to build a city of enterprise, a city of culture and a city of learning. We need to work to develop brilliant learning in brilliant learning places serving healthy, harmonious and thriving communities; communities where all our children and young people are happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful…. whatever it takes!

Working with our colleagues in schools we are continuing to:
· Improving leadership and governance;
· Improving teaching and learning;
· Developing inclusive provision;
· Supporting schools in challenging circumstances;
· Supporting underachieving groups of young people;
· Building brilliant learning places.

Never a dull moment!

Connor Prior's Manifesto: Winner of Mayor for the Day

This is Connor's Manifesto...

"If I were given the role of Mayor for the Day I would concentrate on our local environment. Long term we could have all cars powered by electricity as if we continue to use fossil fuels we will eventually run out of this source. Using fossil fuels damages the environment and also increases global warming. People today are thoughtless about our environment and forget about the beautiful world we live on today. We are not thinking about our future generations.

If I was the Mayor I would encourage all families to cut their carbon footprint by at least 25% as it is already growing at a rapid rate. Simple steps like recycling our rubbish would be a good place to start. If we don’t stop within years we would be as cold as Moscow as the polar ice caps will melt and cool the Gulf Stream, which brings hot water from the south up to the north where we are. The winters in Moscow can reach temperatures of-20°C. How will that affect our families today and tomorrow?

Imagine if we made changes how it would affect our environment. Think about how trout used to stream throughout our rivers in Britain, but as a result of pollution they have gone; if we don’t stop we are going to break up the food chain.

What would I do in the day?

If I were the Mayor I would triple the fines today for littering as people are a disgrace to our nation and to each other. You don’t have to look very far to see litter. This is very important in schools which are our own local environment: Look around all you can see in our playgrounds is litter, litter and more litter from break and lunchtimes. We need to have a good school policy in place for our local environment; within that policy we could have the action taken against those who continue to offend. We need to work together and this could be done through our school council, teamwork and good organisation would make this possible.

If I were the Mayor this dream would come true and litter would become a thing of the past in our school. This would be the first step for educating us and helping our future generations and making changes which are necessary. Why don’t you help with our local environment by joining my campaign?"

Our young people are simply brilliant.


My colleague Hannah Lamplugh, who is our Participation Officer in the Health Initiatives team, sent me this e-mail...

“Dear Chris, Please find below the winning manifesto for this year's Mayor for the Day -Local Democracy Week. You will notice that the focus is very much on environment and sustainability, an issue you are passionate about. I will be working with the winner to support him to prepare for his deputation to the full council on 16th January 2008. The winner, Connor Prior, was also elected as a new member of the Leeds Youth Council this month and at their Annual Conference on Saturday, several new youth councillors also identified the environment as an issue they wanted to address in Leeds. I will keep you informed how this work develops. It could be an opportunity to share the draft sustainability audit tool developed by children and young people at the Sustainable Schools Summit, facilitated by Leeds Healthy School Programme in July 2007. I mentioned the Sustainability Audit to Connor and he seemed very interested as a way of tackling some of the issues he felt needed addressing in schools. Connor's parents informed me his school Cardinal Heenan were also very keen to address the environmental issues Connor identified in the school. It is National Takeover day next Friday and we produced guidance and ideas to support schools in getting involved. Dee informed us that you and other members of the strategic team wanted to participate in the day. Would you like me to approach Connor to see if he would be available to work with you on the 23rd November 2007? Alternatively I have good school council links in the majority of the high schools, if you would like me to contact the schools to identify young people to work alongside Education Leeds on Takeover Day. Kind regards Hannah”
I met Tina today. Tina is Paul's carer. Paul is 17 and has complex needs...

It's an enlightening and powerful experience for a Chief Executive to go from the high level strategic stuff to hear what life is like for the parents and carers of some of our very special children and young people. We need to continue to improve our practice and our provision; to listen carefully to parents and carers about what they want from us and to learn from what works to bring all our provision up to the standard of the very best.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Dirk Gilleard and I finished the day at Intake High School. We were there to talk to the staff about the Transformation of Secondary and Post-16 Learning, the associated Academies in Leeds Strategy and the role of the Leeds Learning Alliance...

The school has made a great start to the year and the atmosphere, commitment and energy were very obvious as we spoke to these colleagues who are working in one of the most challenging contexts in Leeds. They are really focused on making significant progress over this year and achieving a real step change in GCSE outcomes. Annette Hall has certainly built a strong, talented and determined team.
I started the day with Leadership Team looking with Alan Gay at the budget and resourcing issues facing the Council. We also looked at the Joint Area Review preparations, the learner entitlement in Leeds and feedback from the Education Leeds Board awayday last week.
I received some fantastic news from Margaret Lupton, Head Learner at Sharp Lane Primary School...

"Chris, Just thought you would like to know that our raise on line report show us in the TOP 4% nationally for Maths for CVA KS1 to KS2 !! and in TOP 13% overall !! Yippee!! – now that deserves a sticker! See you soon. Margaret"

Margaret and her colleagues are doing a great job and I think it deserves more than a sticker. Chocolate comes to mind... lots of it!