Friday, 11 January 2008

My colleague, Mark Edwards headteacher at Shire Oak Primary School, let me know about his school's recent success...

They have just been successful in gaining a grant to deliver a project on Sustainable leadership from NCSL. There were only 56 grants awarded nationally and they were the only school in the immediate area to gain one. The nearest others are Settle and Barnsley and Newcastle.
They are developing a project to answer the following research question to add to the National College for School Leadership's research on sustainable leadership. "How can pupils be empowered to lead sustainable issues in schools through the development of knowledge and skills of adults working in schools?

The school won £5000 in recognition of its efforts to achieve sustainability. Shire Oak has been working to increase its international links and is currently working toward its International School award. It is also involved in a project with Leeds DEC looking at global citizenship and entitlement. The school has recently participated in the ‘Open Futures’ project, linking food sourcing and growing with cooking. Shire Oak hopes to achieve Fair Trade Status early this year.

Using the grant money, the school will now form a network with other schools in the area to share good practice on sustainability.
I went on to Royd's School to meet with Bernadette Young...

Bernadette wanted to see me to talk about post-14 provision in the area, the lack of a sports hall at Royd's School and the impact it was having on provision and outcomes and about language provision in Key Stage 2, 3 and 4.

It was great to be able to take time to talk these things through with Bernadette.
I started the day at Primrose Lane Primary School...

Stefan Frontczak, the new headteacher, is completing his first week at school alongside three other new colleagues and it was great to be able to meet Stefan and see first hand what an experienced and capable headteacher we have at Primrose Lane Primary School. Stefan talked to me about his history and we stood in the fog and frost together to welcome his children into school at the start of the school day. Stefan then gave me a whistle stop tour of the school where I met his colleagues and some of his wonderful children.

It was a great start to the day.

Final Key Stage 4 Results!

The DCSF have today released the final Key Stage 4 results...

The headlines are as follows:
  • 5+A*-C - 55.9% (up 3.7%, reducing the gap to stat neighbours by 0.9% to 2.6% and to National by 1.6%, to 3.4% )
  • 5+A*-C(inc E+M) - 42.1% (up 1.7%, maintaining the gap below Stat Neighbours of 1.8% and to National by 0.8%, to 4.6%)
  • Any passes - 96.3 (up 0.7%, an increase in the gap to stat neighbours by 0.1% to 1.5% and a fall in the gap to National by 0.1%, to 1%)
  • KS2-4 CVA - 988.3 (up 2.9).

These results mean that:

  • We are above the bottom third of authorities for 5+A*-C(inc E+M);
  • The NO PASSES indicator, despite the increase has dropped into the bottom 10%;
  • KS2-4 CVA indicator increase puts Leeds 6th bottom, up from 2006's 2nd bottom;
  • KS3-4 CVA indicator puts Leeds outside the bottom quartile, this is the first year this indicator has been published.

The combination of CVA indicators are promising as KS2-4 CVA is difficult to shift in a single year, but the impact of the raise in focus and awareness of CVA in Leeds schools can be seen in level of the KS3-4 CVA indicator.

Importantly, the school results show that we now have only 1 school below the 5+A*-C floor target of 30%.


I went on to the Seacroft and Manston Family of Schools meeting which was being held at the David Young Community Academy...

These talented colleagues work in some of the most challenging contexts and are doing some brilliant and innovative things... MAST, PDCs, The Bridge Centre, inclusion... as well as working hard on the standards agenda. It is very easy, as more data and performance results flood the media, to overlook or forget the impact colleagues are having in schools that will never be amongst the top 100 and yet are doing so much to change childrens and families lives.
When I arrived back in Leeds yesterday I visited ARTEMIS...

It's funnt that while I have been in Leeds for over six years now I had never been to see what Anne Pennington-George and her colleagues have in their Aladdin's cave. It is a fantastic resource for schools in Leeds and, despite problems getting all the resources onto an interactive data base on InfoBase Schools, Anne and her colleagues are looking to develop and enrich the services they provide. It is another area where we in Leeds are so lucky to have a resource like ARTEMIS.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

As a leader you can "be the difference" by challenging colleagues, building their confidence, and coaching them to succeed...

Challenging the status quo;
  • helping colleagues out of their 'comfort zones;"
  • creating a compelling vision;
  • establishing goals that stretch and challenge;
  • asking challenging questions.

Building confidence;

  • believing in colleagues;
  • pointing out their strengths, talents and abilities;
  • rewarding and recognising their progress and improvement;
  • trusting and supporting colleagues;
  • empowering colleagues with authority.


  • identifying what brilliant performance looks like;
  • conducting learning and practice sessions;
  • providing helpful and constructive feedback.
What are you doing to 'be the difference'?

Ensuring time for team learning is one of Peter Senge’s five components of a learning organization...

In The Fifth Discipline, he writes that "team learning is vital" because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental building blocks in moden organizations. This is important stuff because unless teams can learn, the organization cannot learn. "When teams are truly learning, not only are they producing extraordinary results, but the individual members are growing more rapidly than could have occurred otherwise.’’

What are you doing to nurture and support team learning.



The 10th Annual BETT Awards 2008 were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane last night...

The award for 'Supporting Institutional Leadership and Management Solutions' went to Bluewave SWIFT a unique partnership between Bluewave International Ltd and Education Leeds. The judges said that it was simply in a different league to the competition! The materials have been developed over the last six years here in Leeds and taken to a new level by the partnership with Bluewave. It is fantastic to have more recognition for the work we are doing to support our schools and to build brilliant provision consistently across Leeds.

Well done to everyone who has been part of the development of this award winning product and particularly to Malcolm Learoyd and the Bluewave SWIFT team.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

People constantly ask me 'You can't be a positive and optimistic person all of the time. How do you do it?'...

Each morning I say to myself, 'Well Chris, you have two choices today. You can choose to see things positively and be an optimist or you can choose to see things negatively and be a pessimist.' Since I discovered Investment in Excellence every day I choose to be positive. Each time something goes wrong or mistakes happen, I can choose to live under a black cloud or I can choose to learn from it. I use affirmations and visualisations and I choose to learn from everything that happens to me.

Every time someone comes to me moaning and complaining about what isn't working, what is going wrong and what has happened to them, I can choose to accept their negativity and go under with more and more problems landing on my desk or alternatively I can point out that when you are working at the cutting edge things go wrong, things get screwed up and that we need to look at the learning striving for excellence provides and the opportunities we have to improve what we do and provide better services for schools and the Council. I choose to be positive, to be optimistic and to be a learner!

I know what you are thinking... it's not that easy... but it is. Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the rubbish and clutter, everything is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. You choose the attitudes you take into each new day. It's your choice how you live your life.

I choose to be positive!

It's funny but I didn't know that the little box I have been using is actually called the RM Asus Minibook...

It's a PC that weighs less than a kilogram and is about the size of an A5 notebook. What is great about it is that the software is all shareware and free and I have had no problems accessing files and documents and presentations! I am using it to wirelessly send and receive e-mail, create and edit documents, view photographs, play videos, browse the internet, listen to internet radio stations and instant message and amazingly it only takes about 15 seconds to boot up. BRILLIANT!

The BETT Show

I am in London writing this from the RM Innovation Centre using this wonderful EeePC...

I was invited to the RM lunch at this year's BETT show and not having been to the show before it's a staggering exhibition of the best of ICT. Everywhere you look there are brilliant ideas to transform learning in and out of the classroom. I am also here to attend the BETT Awards Dinner where we are shortlisted for one of the wards for the Bluewave Swift materials. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

This new Eee PC is such a great addition to the toolkit and is helping me to get my crazy, chaotic life in order...

Like everyone else, I am trying to understand the potential the ICT revolution has for changing how I work and how we all work and where we all work and to put it bluntly what we all do! I was reading in The Times today that the number of people working in some internet industries is so small that the whole concept of meaningful work is needing to be re-defined and re-thought. What do you do that is meaningful and makes a difference and can't be automated and done by machine?

Whatever it is, focus on it and do it brilliantly!
At the end of term I wanted to thank everyone for everything they had done over a great year and, as you know, I announced my own awards for those colleagues and teams who have gone the extra mile and released that special Education Leeds magic...

Some of you have been brave enough to tell me that you fundamentally disagree with that approach and consider that you are part of a team where everyone contributes to the overall achievements, everyone is potentially a winner, a star, and a talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleague… some of you felt that the list was devisive and unhelpful because it recognised colleagues close to me and left out others who have made really important and significant contributions behind the scenes.

I knew it was a dangerous strategy but thanks for the feedback and I am sorry if you felt left out. You are part of a great and uniquely special team which constantly and consistently releases the magic across Leeds.
I was reading in The Guardian an article by Oliver James about Selfish Capitalism...

"The scary thing is that since 1982 the top 1% of British earners have doubled their share of the national income from 6.5% to 13%. In 1980 the FTSE 100 Chief Executives earned 20 times the national wage and now it is an obscene 133 times. Over the years of the Labour Government the richest 0.3% grabbed over half of everything increasing their share of the wealth by 79% over the last five years.

Add to this that 23% of Americans, British, Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians sufferred mental illness during the last twelve months compared to only 11.5% of Germans, Italians, French, Belgians, Spanish and Dutch,

In our 'Big Brother/It Could Be You' society the combination of inequality and materialism creates unrealistic aspirations, stimulates consumerism and creates needy, miserable people who are somehow suckered into perfectionistic, competitive workaholism.

Before long Oliver James predicts we will get a passionate, charismatic leader, probably a woman, who advocates the unselfish capitalism of our neighbours or even the Scandinavian countries... giving us all reduced consumerism and greater equality, more ecological sustainability and halving the incidence of mental illness within a generation."

I can't wait!
My colleague Danielle Brearley let me know about the progress we are making with raising money for Martin House...

"Hi Chris, I thought you might like to know we've had the figure through from Martin House this morning, and we've raised a total of £20,600.29 so far.

We haven't paid in any of the money from the Christmas Auction yet either, so we'll probably be at £21,000 when we do! Danni"

It's great that we have managed to rasie this amount of money and I hope that we will all continue to work to reach the target of £50,000!


My colleague Jenny Marshall sent me this e-mail about the work that is happening around achieving Chartermark...

"Dear Chris, As you know we are building on the success of all the 9 teams who have been awarded Charter Mark standard by applying for it corporately. We are applying under the new criteria and hopefully will be one of the first organisations to be awarded this standard which is so new it still hasn't been given a name.

There are 5 criteria - customer Insight, the culture of the organisation , information and access, delivery and timeliness and quality of service. We need to ensure that all Education Leeds employees buy into providing excellent customer led service which all our customers, schools, pupils, families, and the community, deserve. It will be fantastic if we can gain this prestigious award but even better will be the ethos and improvements that come with its implementation.

We have our preassessment in late February and we are working hard to prove to the assessor that we are provide a proactive and excellent service using many examples of good practice throughout the company so that we can progress to full assessment around Easter time.

I know that you have always championed our Charter Mark submissions and hope that you will once more champion and lead us to continually improving our services for our customers. Jenny"

I hope that everyone will support Jenny and her colleagues as we work on this important recognition and celebration of our work here in Leeds.

Launch of the FUNKY FEET Programme

I attended the launch of the 'Funky Feet' physical activity programme this morning ...

The programme builds on the 'Wake Up and Shake Up' sessions and aims to further develop physical activity in primary schools in the St Mary's Menston School Sport Partnership. The programme is a partnership between St Mary's and Leeds Trinity and All Saints whose students are supporting the programme in schools.

Anything that ensures that our children get more physical activity must be a good thing and it was great to see the young people and colleagues working on their co-ordination and timing through a fun skill based activity programme to 'Funky' dance music. The energy, enthusiasm and enjoyment was really obvious and I hope that the programme goes from strength to strength.