Thursday, 29 November 2007


St Bartholomew’s C of E Primary school wanted to transform a field behind the school into a real community space. The field is a blank canvas, unused by anybody. The school applied to the People’s Millions competition for £79,930 and they won!

Staff, parents and children showcased their project on Calendar news on Monday and had to go head to head with another Yorkshire project, Henshaw’s College for the Blind. On Tuesday Calendar presenters made a surprise visit to the school to tell them they had won – and cheering children and staff were shown on Tuesday night’s Calendar.

There were only eight projects in the whole of Yorkshire and Humberside shortlisted to appear in the People’s Millions competition and only four could win in the X-factor style public vote. There was huge community support for the project in Armley, with local shopkeepers and organisations displaying posters and wearing badges. People from all across Leeds voted as well.

Pauline Gavin, headteacher at St Bartholomew’s, said “This is a great boost for the community! Thank you to everyone who voted for us.”

Well done Pauline!
I finished the amazing day at Leeds Trinity and All Saints...

I was there for the Graduation Ceremony for a group of students who had completed the Foundation Degree in Child and Youth Studies and twenty of the group were my colleagues from schools across Leeds... brilliant, talented, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues who have been juggling their family, school and learning lives over the last two years and achieved something really special. Dr Freda Bridge, Principal of Leeds Trinity and I presented the graduates with their degree certificates in front of their families and friends and the team who delivred the course including my colleague Monica Tomkiss who brilliantly leads and manages the programme for Education Leeds.

It was a wonderful evening and I was deeply proud to be there. I hope the phots will be sent soon so I can add them to the blog.
I went on to Headteacher Forum at the David Lloyd Centre...
Yesterday was an amazing day. I started the day at the Big STEPS Celebration...

STEPS is one of the most successful initiatives we have developed here in Leeds. The parents programme has been taken up by Val Cain and Chris Bennett and the Families and Schools Together Team and has reached around 180 facilitators and countless schools across Leeds. The impact has been fantastic and the Big STEPS Celebration brought together the STEPS facilitators in the Civic Hall witha group of STEPS parents and carers joining the session at lunchtime. We also had the first 'The Keith Jackson Award' prseented to Val Cain for her significant contribution to the STEPS programme in Leeds.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

At the same event I also came across 'All Relative' a group supporting parents understanding children...

'All Relative' is an intitaive contributing to the Respect Action Plan funded by the DCSF. They work with families where there is a risk of the children offending or participating in anti-social behaviour. They provide parenting programmes with other agencies including the Youth Offending Service, Early Years Anti-social Behaviour Unit, CAMHS and Education Leeds.
If you want to find out more you can visit their web-site at or e-mail
Last night at the Family Support and Parenting Event I discovered THE ACHIEVERS...

They are on a mission to improve training for young people aged 16 - 17 who are in work but are not receiving any training. The message is TRAINING CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO YOUR FUTURE! For:

  • free and flexible training
  • training while you continue to work
  • qualifications that are recognised and respected by employers
  • continuous support until the training is completed

They are urging young people to sign up to the LEARNING AGREEMENT!

It appears to be brilliant initiative and you can find out more by visiting


My colleague David sent me some photos of the talnted colleagues he had been working with...

" are some photos of the NPSLBA presentation held on the 14th of November you suggested sending them for your blog ....Hope they are useful....... the next group is planned for January and the BESDSILC have just started submitting their completion folders. Colette Hussey's idea for reflecting pupil progress received a positive mention on the HMI feedback ...she wrote it up as one of her intersessional activities. Cheers David"

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

I moved on to the launch of the 'Family Support and Parenting Strategy' at Primrose High School...

The event was also an opportunity for parents to see the level of support available here in Leeds and the range of services providing information and advice to parents and carers. Interestingly, there were 40 providers represented at the market place and taster session and even I learn't a lot although there didn't appear to be many parents there. Well done to everyone who contributed to a real celebration of services for families.
This afternoon I attended the launch of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Team's new DVD 'Enabled to Learn'...

It is a wonderful celebration of the work that the DAHIT do across Leeds working with some incredible children and young people. My colleague, Joan Haines who leads the sensory and early years SEN services for Education Leeds, introduced the DVD and the stars of the show, Sam Green and her daughter Georgia. Sam reduced most people to tears with her story about the support the whole family has received from DAHIT and the difference it has made to their lives.
I started my day at Monk Fryston hall with Corporate Leadership Team looking at the Strategic Plan and the Budget for 2008-09...

We are looking to refine and develop the Strategic Plan in the light of the feedback from consultation. It is also going to be a very difficult and challenging budget for everyone across the Council.
I received a copy of the 'Transforming Transfer' publication today...

It is a brilliant piece of work produced for us by Brian Ward and Sarah Balfour. It aims to help schools with the transfer of children from primary to secondary school and contains guidance about best practice and some case studies from schools across Leeds. If you haven't received a copy contact colleagues at Elmete who will be happy to help.

Message of the Week Twelve

"Winning is about individuals performing when the going gets tough, not when it’s easy."
Michael Vaughan

I know what you are thinking: ‘It hasn’t been a week since Chris wrote the last message of the week’, and you’re right… it’s been a fortnight, and what a fortnight!

It has been a hectic couple of weeks… I visited Intake High School to talk to the staff about academies and Garforth Community College to talk to Paul Edwards, the headteacher, about the support he is providing for South Leeds High School. I also met the Teenage Pregnancy National Support Team to talk about the challenges we are facing here in Leeds with sexual health. Lord Adonis was in Leeds talking at the Girls Schools Association Annual Conference at the Queen’s Hotel and he asked to meet with Cllr Harker and me to hear about the progress we are making with secondary schools, trusts and academies. I also had breakfast and tea-time meetings with headteacher colleagues from the Seacroft/Manston, Richmond Hill and Inner East families of schools.

Colleagues from Leeds Corporate Leadership Team went on a tour of the city with the inspection teams who are doing the corporate assessment of Leeds City Council and the joint area review of children’s services here in Leeds. We also had a tour of the new Leeds Museum in Millennium Square with colleagues from the museums service.

It has been an incredible couple of weeks for celebrations and launches. I attended the Healthy Schools celebration event at Castle Grove, the ‘Brilliant Learning, Brilliant Leadership’ event at Weetwood Hall, the Leeds Mentoring celebration event at the Civic Hall, the launch of ‘The Power of Me’ at the Headingley Experience and the Leeds Peace Poetry competition awards evening at the Civic Hall. All were inspiring and wonderful opportunities to see the impact of our work in Leeds.

I had meetings with Abdul Udin and Frank Hartle from the Hay Group, Chief Superintendent Milsom from West Yorkshire Police, Christina George from the West Yorkshire Learning and Skills Council, Dierdre Rowe from the Roman Catholic Diocesan Team, Tina Taylor about provision for her son, Sue Knights from the North West SILC Parents Forum. I had lunch with the Artforms team leaders and I also attended the Closing the Gap Executive meeting at the South Leeds Sikh Gudwara.

I did manage to visit some schools… St Anthony’s Primary School, Templenewsam Halton Primary School and the NE SILC at West Oaks School… great schools where great colleagues are releasing the magic.

There were three other highlights for me: I attended the third Education Leeds Annual Lecture given this year by Professor Tim Brighouse who was wonderful; I went to the Elmete Centre to support the brilliant school improvement support team who achieved Chartermark status; and I finished the week with representatives from school councils from Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School, City of Leeds School, South Leeds High School, and West Leeds High School. Friday was 11 Million Takeover Day where the children’s commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green had challenged organisations to allow young people to take over for the day or part of the day. We spent the afternoon with this amazing group of young people and they then used our meeting to tell us about their concerns and issues which we will use to inform our strategies and plans.

If we are going to continue to build brilliant learning places we must…
§ Adopt an athletic mindset …. prepare, review and train.
§ Remember successes…. focus on what has gone well.
§ Learn from everything… review, analyse and evaluate.
§ Don’t get bogged down by setbacks… use them to learn and do better.
§ Control things… be prepared and be organised.
§ Focus on success… use visualisation and affirmation techniques.
§ Look after ourselves and each other… eat well, exercise and relax.
§ Manage attitudes…be optimistic and be positive.
§ Seek challenges… get feedback to improve our performance.
§ Create a brilliant working environment… play to our strengths
Keep the faith

Monday, 26 November 2007

As leaders we need to light up the way for others....

"There are three kinds of people in this world; those who don't know what's happening, those who watch what's happening and those who make things happen." The very essence of leadership is vision. People don't follow a dream itself. They follow the leader who has that dream and the ability to communicate it effectively. A good leader has the ability to attract, energize and encourage followers.

"Motivators are the movers and shakers of this world; they make things happen." They aren't discouraged by opposition - they expect it and plan for it. They are risk-takers; they understand that innovation and new ideas will not necessarily be readily accepted by anyone. But it is their personal enthusiasm and inner strength that will continue to fuel their desire to see change occur, because they have a vision and a dream that they are willing to sacrifice for.

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Very few of us practice empathetic listening, which is listening with the intent to understand. It means you look at the world the way they see it; you understand how they feel; you listen with more than your ears; you listen with your eyes and your heart as you search for feeling, meaning and behavior. A person will always have difficulty as a leader if she doesn’t learn to listen to colleagues.

"A benchmark of maturity is taking personal responsibility for our attitudes." We choose what attitudes we have right now and it is a continual choice. Every morning when we wake up, we choose what our attitude will be. Having the right attitude will be a big factor in setting the right atmosphere and bringing the right responses from your colleagues. A leader’s attitude is “caught” more quickly than her actions.

As leaders, you have such great potential to shine!
The rest of the day passed in a blur...

I moved from meeting to meeting... from Corporate Leadership Team to my one to one with Dirk Gilleard and from my monthly meeting with Keith Burton on to my one to one with Ros Vahey.
I started the day early in the office trying to finish off the piles of paper and e-mails before I went with Leadership Team to John Smeaton Community School for our meeting...

John Daulby and Marilyn Steele gave us the guided tour of this great building; a calm, purposeful learning environment. I love the uniform, the colour and the use of ICT as well as the general feeling of space... shame the cafe is so small and the queues have meant a significant drop in the number of young people having lunch.
My colleague Lynn Turner who is Service Manager in the Integrated Children's Services Team at Blenheim sent me this after her day with young people on Friday...

"Dear Chris, We had a very fun and challenging day today. The young people did some really great work using drama techniques and collage work. We used PSPs to take photographs of the activities and to make video diaries. They also voted on some key issues around the Leeds Iinclusive Learning Strategy. We were well supported by staff from the schools involved and the BEST teams from South Leeds, Intake and the Central Leeds Learning Federation. Our colleagues in Artforms were fantastic and responded to our request for support with great flexibility and creativity.

I am grateful to Richard Boughey and David Bateson for their help in planning the event and for colleagues for admin support.We were really pleased that Carol Jordan could join us for a good part of the day. Most of all, I'm gateful to the young people of all ages and abilities for their ideas and hard work. I hope your day was as brilliant and as invigorating as ours?
Best wishes. Lynn"

I am really pleased that 11 Million Takeover Day has had a real impact here in Leeds and children and young people have helped us shape some of our work on inclusion, strategic planning and school improvement. We must do it more often!