Friday, 21 December 2007

Goodbye to 2007!

Well that's it another year gone.
I will not be blogging now until 2008!
Take care.
I am once again using the amazing Eee PC which my colleagues have explained to me is fairly unique since these wonderful little machines are like gold dust. I am really grateful to RM for letting me trial this little bit of magic.
The end of term has come at last and I want to thank everyone for everything they have done this term to achieve really fantastic results but more importantly I wanted to announce my own awards for those colleagues and teams who have gone the extra mile and released that special Education Leeds magic...

I recognise the dangers of doing this because having won and not won awards and knowing how it feels not to be recognised, I risk the wrath of everyone I don't mention. However, these are some of the colleagues, the teams and the initiatives that has made my life here at Education Leeds so special this year.

I have decided to award the following:

My nominations for TEAM OF THE YEAR are:

EMA team
SEN Assessment and Planning Team;
Performance Management and Information Team;
Traveller Team
Leadership Support Team
National Strategies Team;
Secondary Advisers;
Healthy Schools Team;
Families and Schools Together Team;
Deaf and Hearing Impaired Team;
Attendance Team;
Primary Advisers;
Finance Team;
Communications Team;
Pupil Planning Team;
Playing for Success Team;
Building Schools for the Future Team.

My nominations for COLLEAGUE OF THE YEAR are:

Glenn Pickersgill;
Andy Hargreaves;
Hilary Farmery;
Malcolm Learoyd;
Lise Stower;
Simon Darby;
Iram Mir;
Helen Ford;
Danielle Brearley;
Jon Hosegood;
Vicki White;
Christine Alexander;
Val Cain;
Gary Nixon;
Monica Tomkiss;
Richard Irvine;
Claire Macklam;
Joss Ivory;
Liz White;
Carolyn Eyre;
Beverley Lloyd;
Frances Bernstein;
Josie Warwick,
Sue Morgan;
Alex MacLeod;
Margaret Dalby;
Paul Hudson;
Preet Matharu;
Richard Boughey;
Bernadette Robinson;
Heather Eyre;
Althea Brown;
Barbara Comiskey;
Rosie Denison;
Gary Milner;
Rachael Holdgate.

My nominations for MANAGER OF THE YEAR are:

Dee Reid;
Viv Buckland;
Jane Hall;
Tony Palmer;
Wendy Winterburn;
Chris Halsall;
Mark Hopkins;
Brian Tuffin;
Til Wright;
Richard Smith;
George Turnbull;
Charlotte Foley;
Peter Storrie;
Barry Hilton;
Carol Stagg;
Chris Pollard;
Peter Saunders;
Joan Haines;
Anne Cowling;
Steve Smith.

My nominations for LEADER OF THE YEAR are:

Dirk Gilleard;
Ros Vahey;
Pat Toner;
Jackie Green;
Carol Jordan;
Rehana Minhas;
Martin Hollos;
Dorothy Smith;
David McDermott;
Shirley Parks.

My nominations for INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR are:

Aim Higher;
Attendance Champions;
Equalitiy Champions;
No Child Left Behind;
Together for Peace;
Extended Services Developments;
InfoBase and InfoBase Schools;
Inclusive Learning Strategy;
Children Missing Education Initiative;
Enterprise Ambassadors;
Leeds Mentoring;
Wake Up and Shake Up;
Intensifying Support Programme;
Parent Support Advisers;
The Power of Me;
Stephen Lawrence Education Standard in Morley;
Brilliant Learning, Brilliant Leadership;
Inclusion Chartermark;
PfI Schools;
My Blog!

You know me well enough by now that actually they are all winners, all stars, all talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful. I know that I may have forgotten someone and I am sorry if you weren't nominated this year but I hope it will be an incentive to let me know about your personal and team successes during the next year.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

I received this message this afternoon from Cllr Richard Harker...

"Dear All, This year I have run out of time and failed to write Christmas Cards to you all, but before I go off for my Christmas break I had to send greetings. Genius or Hard Work? the answer to the question is....... You are all of you a GENIUS in your own right. But as Thomas Edison said Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety - nine percent perspiration.
Thank you, each and all, for you individual leadership, your one percent inspiration and your ninety - nine percent perspiration that results in services to our young people you can be proud of and of which I can boast about at every chance I get. Try to have a good rest over Christmas and recharge those batteries. 2008 looks like it could be testing. Richard"

It is great to know how much we are all appreciated!
I attended the Blenheim Christmas party at lunchtime...

I wanted to thank this brilliant group of colleagues for everything they have done this year and to tell them the real difference they have made for some of our most special children and young people. These colleagues work with children and families facing some of the greatest challenges and do a brilliant job... they all deserve to have a special visit from Santa and I hope that he brings them peace, love and happiness this Christmas!
I then went to Corpus Christi Catholic Church to a mass where I had a chance to thank Cecilia Hyland for her forty years of dedicated service to Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School. Cecilia has been acting headteacher for most of the last few years while Gerry O'Kane has been working for Education Leeds. I read Cecelia's file over the weekend and to read about someone's life of service was inspiring. Over forty years Cecelia has touched, shaped and changed so many childrens lives and we are all deeply grateful for her passion, commitment, energy, care and hard work. We wish her well in her well deserved retirement.
I moved on to Clapgate Primary School which is where I should have been...

I had breakfast with a great group of children before talking to Lesley Simpson, the headteacher, about the support we've been giving her as well as talking through some of the things we are not getting right. Lesley was really positive about the school improvement support she has had and the impact of the Intensifying Support Programme. She then gave me the whistle stop tour of the school which was calm, purposeful and positive... Lesley and the team are doing a great job and releasing a real magic for this community.
I started the day at Sharp Lane Primary School which was quite a surprise for Margaret Lupton the headteacher who wasn't expecting me...

To be fair Margaret was delighted to see me and they made me very welcome.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

I had a lovely letter today from Kathryn Carter, headteacher at Holy Rosary and St Anne's Catholic Primary School...

Kathryn had received a letter from Lord Adonis letting her know that Holy Rosary and St Anne's Catholic Primary School is one of the 100 most improved primary schools in the country!
Kathryn and her team are doing a brilliant job and releasing the magic in one of the most deprived parts of our great city.
I was delighted to hear that Robin Hood Primary School won the Yorkshire Evening Post's Christmas Carol Factor. Well done to everyone.
I visited a wonderful little school this morning although as on so many occasions the building conspires to make things difficult...

I visited Cross Flatts Park Primary School to see Nicky Mamwell the new headteacher. It was an inspiring visit because I got the chance to walk around the school with Nicky and her deputy, to 'Wake Up and Shake Up' and to meet the wonderful school council who were brilliant advocates and ambassadors for the school... some of them didn't want the holidays to come and wanted to stay at their school.

I also received this magical Christmas card...

Nicky and the team are certainly releasing the magic at Cross Flatts Park Primary School.


Tuesday, 18 December 2007

At the end of my 100th term in this crazy profession of ours, I wanted to give you some reflections and stimulate some thinking over Christmas...

My manifesto is as follows...
  • Our job is, and always has been, "Educating the Whole Child".
  • Brilliant schools don't work without brilliant teachers and brilliant headteachers
  • Skilled and talented teachers and headteachers will not keep teaching when their work life has been radically undermined and undervalued.
  • Talented new teachers will not rush to work in schools that are more like factories than learning organisations.
  • We need to create strong and popular local schools at the heart of their communities.
  • Basic literacy and numeracy, while important, are not the answer to building world class schools.
  • All our children need access to the arts, to music and to develop their personal and social skills.
  • Play and creativity are at the very heart of what we do.
  • Children do not learn best when limited to a narrow range of educational experiences taught in highly standardised ways.
  • If you test just two aspects of learning, inevitably the rest will get neglected.
  • Tests are not rich and accurate indicators of student performance.
  • Tests don't provide data to guide better teaching and learning.
  • Annual testing does not turn children into better readers, better writers and better mathematicians.
  • Schools will not get better results simply because they have business partners.
  • Shame, fear and humiliation are ineffective motivators for teachers, headteachers and colleagues in authorities.
  • Elevated levels of threat and risk create unhealthy environments for learning and teaching.
  • Corporate style competition is an unhealthy and ineffective model for a learning organization.
  • Imposed top down solutions don't release the magic and in the long term will be a complete waste of money.
  • People should only give advice if they are prepared to roll their sleeves up and do it themselves.
  • Parents, carers and families are partners in this endeavour and share responsibility for their children's performance.
  • Increased poverty, mobility and worklessness impact greatly on children's performance.
  • You can't push down on one aspect of a complex system without taking responsibility for other aspects of the system.
Let me know what you think.
I started the day at Grimes Dyke Primary School...

I had bought flowers and chocolates for Barbara Dixon who has worked at the school as a cleaner and lunchtime superviser for 33 years... 99 terms! What dedication and commitment and Barbara was now planning to go on a cruise. I also talked to Diana Mann about their latest OFSTED visit which had gone very well and walked around the school with Diana and her deputy.

The school has recently achieved the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard and been re-vaidated for the Leeds Inclusion Chartermark. The OFSTED report identifies satisfactory progress overall and good progress with leadership and management and children's personal development and well-being. The school was calm and purposeful and the atmosphere positive and happy with some excellent learning environments for the children. The school tracking system is home grown and enables the team to focus theri energy and efforts where it is needed... it's brilliant according to OFSTED!

Diana and her colleagues are working in a challenging community and on the basis of my visit the team are releasing something very special for a great group of young people.

Monday, 17 December 2007

I managed to get to a little bit of Christmas today...

I went to Hovingham Primary School; one of my favourite schools. I had been invited to their Year 2 production "Santa's Helpers" which was brilliant!

They also gave me a wonderful Happy Christmas and Happy Eid card.

The children were fantastic... stars in the making and a real credit to Janet Spence and her brilliant colleagues, Miss Fisher, Mrs Crabbe, Mrs Brown, Mrs Poole and Mrs Mughal.
Students from three Yorkshire Schools were invited to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park as a prize for winning a sculpture competition within their school...

"The year 8 students took part in a sculpture competition organised by Leeds based, award winning The Cool Drinks Company, who provide healthy drinks vending at 40 schools across Yorkshire. To encourage recycling of plastic bottles, the pupils were tasked with creating sculptures from the empty bottles and lids. A variety of sculptures were created, including spacecraft, animals and vehicles, and the winning students were invited to a celebration and workshop at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The visit took place on the 17th December and included students from Bruntcliffe High School. The students were given a tour of the YSP grounds to see examples of sculptures at the park to compare with those they had made using the recycled drinks vending bottles. In the afternoon they took part in an artist-led workshop to practice new techniques and design their own sculptures in the YSP grounds.

Tracey Mosley, who led the initiative at Clifton said “We had an excellent response to the recycling collection, and the competition provided a stimulating one-off activity that the students really enjoyed.“

Aaron Prout from The Cool Drinks Company said: “The competition was a great way to encourage recycling at schools. We have organised a number of different education initiatives and visits with schools, and the sculpture competition is always one of the most popular.”

Claire Blundell Jones from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park said, “It has been great to have this recycling competition taking place in local schools and exciting to see the students ‘bottle’ sculptures here at the Park. The workshop has offered the winning students the chance to develop their ideas and knowledge further, and to take inspiration from the Park to create more sculptures from a range of materials”

Well done to colleagues at Bruntcliffe High School.
We can forget how special the work we do actually is. My colleague Su Edwards, headtecaher at Raynville Primary School sent me this over the weekend...

"Dear Chris, A few highlights from the week....William wrote a W - he's 9 and nobody thought he ever would write, Jordan said "more" because he wanted another cuddle, he's 8 and nobody thought he ever would speak, and Spike was in the band for the reception class performance and managed to stay there for the whole time and, unexpectedly, took a bow. Sadie and James met Princess Anne and told her how they contribute to Youth on Health and Nathan and Amber helped decide on a provider for an E-ILP. These are all things that could not have happened in the school I went to or even in the first schools that I taught in. How wonderful to live in these times. Su"

We should never forget what we achieve as a team and the difference we are all making to the lives of children and young people.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Another term, another Christmas and another brilliant year!

It's hard to believe that this is my seventh Christmas here in Leeds and what is impressive is the way that this year colleagues across Education Leeds have continued to release a very special and unique magic. I know that we face yet another series of progress checks, internal and external audits, Annual Performance Assessments, Joint Reviews and inspections... you name it we've had it, I have been there and we have all got the t-shirt.

It's easy to forget within this national culture of criticism, failure and negativity, that you are simply the best; colleagues across Education Leeds from our Healthy Schools Team to our Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Team, from our Deaf and Hearing Impaired Team to our Families and Schools Together Team, from our National Strategies Team to our School improvement Team, from our Attendance Team to our Extended Services Team, from our Finance Team to our Human Resources Team, from our Performance and Information Management Team to our Communications Team. I know that I have left out some incredible teams so I'll leave space for you to put your team in here....................................

It's true though, wherever you look and whenever you get out of Leeds and see what other authorities are doing we are BRILLIANT, EXCEPTIONAL AND DIFFERENT... an innovative and creative cutting edge team. I hope that you will think about the special things you and your colleagues have achieved this year... examples where you have helped release the magic and created that WOW factor! Make a list and pin it on the wall to remind you through the dark times that working in Leeds is simply fantastic.

In 2008 we need to continue to deliver high challenge, brilliant support and quality services to our schools, our colleagues and all the organisations we work with so that we continue to ensure that the children and young people of this great city are happy, healthy, safe and successful... whatever it takes. We must all continue to work on driving a cultural change which fosters excellence, ownership and discipline and deliver brilliant outcomes. We must all develop our skills, our abilities and our understanding and strive to work even better as a team. We must get rid of the excuses, the things that get in the way and the bureaucracy and simply focus on outcomes.

Remember that you are part of a unique, creative and innovative team. We must challenge ourselves to do better and constantly refresh our offer, our products and materials, our partnerships and our ideas. This is above all a passionate enterprise and we must continue to build trust, to listen, to smile, to act, to be positive, to be considerate and caring, to be brave and to always tell the truth.

This Christmas, I wish you, and those you love and care about, delight and simplicity, foolishness and fantasy and noise, angels and miracles and wonder, and innocence and magic. I realise, as I write this, that this is the seventh time I have done Christmas in Leeds and it’s funny I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Have a great time… be happy, keep healthy and stay safe.