Monday, 10 November 2008

Another week on the long march to Christmas with its bright lights, cold winds, magic, mystery and sparkle...

It's been a week full of social, political and historical significance with the appointment of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States and as usual it has been a busy week here in Leeds.

I attended the celebration dinner for the new Leeds City College at Leeds Thomas Danby. It was a fantastic celebration of our young people who prepared, managed and served a wonderful meal for the assembled colleagues who have been involved in this long and interesting journey for FE provision in the city.

I also went to the 3rd assessment and development centre for aspiring headteachers at Weetwood Hall. It was organised by Peter Laurence and an army of colleagues and recognises the critical importance of leadership on our journey to brilliant and how hard we are working to encourage and support talented colleagues on their personal pathways to headship.
I didn't manage to get to the launch of the 'Building Bridges 2' intergenerational resource which was held at the Derek Fatchett Centre. However Dorothy Smith attended on my behalf and told me that it was fantastic and showcased the work of colleagues and students at City of Leeds School.

We celebrated '11 Million Takeover Day' at the banqueting suite at Elland Road working with young people from twelve secondary schools from across the city to look together at the key issues we are facing with building brilliant learning places, and to listen to them about what they want from us to help them achieve their goals. You can watch some of our inspriring young people talk about the difference we are making with them on our new BSF film at

I finally attended the official launch of 'Striking' at Lawnswood School. Striking is a smoking cessation project developed between NHS Leeds, Education Leeds and three Leeds secondary schools to help young people avoid starting to smoke and to help those who are smokers give up.
At an awards ceremony at the Civic Hall, 46 of our looked after children and young people received awards and recognition for their fantastic achievements in the categories of sport, academic, arts, drama, improvement, and community/voluntary achievement. Many of the young people who attended had overcome difficult personal circumstances to achieve success in their academic lives, behaviour, attendance and commitment, and were praised by their teachers and peers alike. I was unfortunately unable to attend, but Ros Vahey went in my place and came away feeling truly moved by the achievements of those young people and those who work with them.

The highlight of my week was the visit by Mick Waters, director of curriculum at QCA, who delivered the 4th Education Leeds Annual Lecture in front of 300 talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues at the banqueting suite at Elland Road. Mick was his usual brilliant self; held the audience captivated with his stories, energy and passion for the curriculum and learning, and made us all feel special. He reminded us that the future belongs to a very special kind of person with a very special kind of mind - creators and empathisers, pattern recognisers and meaning makers. These people - artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers - are the future and we must help them re-imagine and re-engineer the curriculum to inspire our colleagues, energise our schools and to bring learning alive for all our children and young people.

And whatever you do this week...
"Think, reflect, research, analyse and learn;
Be visible, accessible and available;
Walk the talk and constantly connect with colleagues;
Tell stories; celebrate, praise and challenge;
Teach, coach and model behaviours you want to see;
Get a life... live, love and regularly escape;"

and above all...
"Do things to make people feel special."

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