Monday, 19 May 2008

I’ve been thinking about the services we provide and the key role we play here in Leeds as we look to develop a new strategic plan to guide our work over the next three years leading up to 2012, Olympic Year. The last seven years have been about a relentless drive for service improvement, continuous improvement and striving for excellence. We must continue to put schools, young people and their families at the heart of everything we do…to listen to their needs and wants and to ensure that the culture of the organisation is about empowerment, equity, trust, openness, honesty, partnership, respect and service.

These things were highlighted for me during a frenetic week of briefings, meetings, partnerships and strategy groups. I had lunch with Rosie Denison and Belinda Roy from the School Meals Team who talked to me about their fantastic work and how young people as School Meals Ambassadors were monitoring, influencing and shaping provision. I met with my colleague, Preet Matharu and Jenny Barth and Ezz Witter from Children’s Services to talk about how we take forward the BME workers groups and continue to drive this important representation and equality issue. I also visited Parklands Girls High School to talk to Liz Bisson after the school was give a notice to improve by our friends from Ofsted.

However the highlight of the week was the opportunity to showcase our work on equality, diversity and raising standards for children from refugee and asylum seekers, migrant workers, BME communities and Gypsy, Roma and Travellers We had been nominated by the DCSF and we were visited by colleagues from the Carl Bertlesmann Foundation in relation to their International Prize 2008. Their feedback on the day was great…"Our visit to Education Leeds was wonderful. We were indeed very impressed by the equity work in Leeds and delighted to meet with so many enthusiastic people. Warmest regards to all the wonderful people we had the privilege to get to know. It was an unforgettable day!" They now want to send a film crew to capture some of the magic which is released in so many of our schools for children, families and communities.

Colleagues will know that the assessment for Customer Service Excellence takes place this week and I know that everyone will welcome our assessor, Bob Mandy, who will be visiting Merrion, Blenheim, Elmete, West Park, the Derek Fatchett Centre and the White Rose Study Support Centre. Bob will also be visiting four schools and meeting a Family of Schools event to hear from our customers how we are doing. I know Bob will see brilliant practice and brilliant provision and I know his visit will help us become an even more effective organisation.
Keep the faith.

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