Saturday, 6 September 2008

Peter and I got back from Gutersloh in Germany late on Thursday evening after an amazing couple of days with the Bertlesmann Foundation...

The Bertlesmann Foundation is, an amazing organisation, working, against a background of increasing social diversity, demographic change and increasing globalisation, to develop community engagement, social cohesion and to release potential. They share our belief that our children are the future and that we all must work to develop their potential and encourage and support them in playing a active role in society. They also see the need to focus on young people being happy, healthy, safe as well as successful, the power of music and the arts and the need to listen to young people.

This year the focus was to identify examples from across the world of integration and participation and particularly to find examples which reach and support children and young people from disadvantaged communities: our work with gypsy, roma and travellers, migrants and assylum seekers and black and minority ethnic communities meant that we can been selected as one of 60 nominees from 21 countries across the world. This had been slimmed down through a detailed evaluation and monitoring process to four finalists... Leeds, Malmo, Toronto and Zurich. The prize was won by the Toronto District School Board for their wonderful work on 'Integration through Education: Fairness for All'.

As part of this year's competition the Bertelsmann Foundation has developed a programme called 'All Kids are VIPs' and you can find our more about this and the Foundation by visiting or

Peter and I had a fantastic time in Germany with colleagues from Toronto, Malmo and Zurich supported by brilliant team from the Bertlesmann Foundation. We learnt so much and while politician and professionals argue that change takes time and talk about it taking ten years, the seminar showed that the real issue is about attitudes, values and beliefs. My belief, as you know, is that change actually takes commitment, passion and hard work and that we can actually change the world right now... let's start on Monday!

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