Saturday, 9 February 2008

I moved on with everyone else to Windmill Primary School to complete the two centre visit to celebrate the first six months of the Federation between Low Road and Windmill Primary Schools...

Once again I was struck by the quality of the provision at Windmill Primary School, the quality of the learning environment the learning team have created, the pace, engagement and purposeful learning, the richness of the curriculum on offer and the fantastic relationships. We saw energy and quality everywhere we went in this fantastic school. These are great children and the school is releasing something incredible.

Just one example of the vast number of wonderful things we saw... a group of children were recording our visit on digital camcorders and another group of children were editing the footage and producing short programmes to be displayed at school. The school's use of ICT is fantastic; led by a very talented colleague whose passion and enthusiasm was contagious.

This school is contagious and Sally Sumpner and her colleagues, across two schools now, are building brilliant and proving that, wherever you are across the great city, our children have a magic and a potential that we can engage, nurture and release to ensure that every child in Leeds is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.
I went on to Low Road Primary School to the start of a two centre visit to celebrate the first six months of the Federation between Low Road and Windmill Primary Schools...

The school looked wonderful and the energy and purposeful learning on display was fantastic. Both schools were working on an international 'one world' and the arts theme which had permeated into every aspect of school life. They were working with an organisation called International Service on a 'Same Difference: The never ending children's art project' and had involved colleagues from International Relations and Artforms to create a brilliantly energetic, vibrant and powerful curriculum project that had obviously caught the imagination of all the learning team and the children.

Sally Sumpner who heads the Federation between the two schools has clearly done an incredible job at Low Road Primary School and created a learning team and a partnership between the two schools that brings real added-value, is achieving a huge impact and is delivering improved and improving outcomes for these wonderful children.

You can find out more about the 'Same Difference project by visiting their web-site at
I started the day yesterday at Raynville Primary School in Bramley...

It is a wonderful little school and Su Edwards, the headteacher, had arranged a busy programme for me including breakfast club, a brilliant 'Wake Up and Shake Up' session, a meeting with Su's colleagues to talk about the fantastic work they are doing around the extended schools offer, a celebration assembly where I presented awards to the children and presented the school their 'Activemark' and 'Basic Skills; Quality Mark' awards and finally a session with a wonderful group of children who interviewed me about school transport as part of the work they are doing for this year's Stan Kenyon Challenge.

This is an amazing school with a great team releasing a real magic in some wonderful children.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Dirk Gilleard and I had lunch with the Aim Higher team...

The Aim Higher team's work includes Leeds Mentoring, Stepping Stones and Gifted & Talented and much, much more. This team are doing some incredible work and achieving some exceptional outcomes with our targeted groups including our looked after children, some of our Black and Minority Ethnic communities and our white working class boys.

It was great to spend time with the team and learn more about their work.
I started the day with colleagues from the School Improvement Services leadership team...

They are an amazing bunch who are doing some incredible work and having worked in many authorities I know that this is the best team I have ever worked with.


I received a letter today from Cllr Carter, Cllr Brett and Paul Rogerson. I have included part of the letter for everyone to read ...

"Dear colleague, We are delighted to inform you that the Audit Commission, the independent body that inspects the quality and cost-effectiveness of public services, has today confirmed that the council has achieved the highest possible '4 star' rating. The authority is also assessed as ‘improving well’ which is the second highest award possible in terms of our prospects for further improvement.

The result means that Leeds City Council is once again amongst the best-performing local authorities in the country, and the joint highest-performing council among the large cities.
We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for all the hard work.... This outcome reflects your efforts and commitment to improve the services we collectively deliver to the people of Leeds. The Audit Commission has produced what is essentially the council’s annual ‘school report’ which details what we are doing well and what needs attention.
There will plainly be challenges ahead but we are confident that the Council is well placed to meet them.

Councillor Andrew Carter, Councillor Richard Brett and Paul Rogerson"

A fantastic outcome.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008


Becta and the National Education Network are inviting secondary schools to submit proposals for funded projects to exploit online digital resources found external to their organisation to create more engaging, innovative and interactive materials for teaching and learning. These materials will then be made available nationally for sharing with other teachers. Up to £25,000 is available per project and it is expected that 30-50 projects will be funded across the country... so we might expect 4-8 projects here in Leeds. Collaborative bids (which may include primary schools) will be welcomed.

The deadline for bids is 12:00 noon on Friday 22 February 2008. All projects should start as soon as possible and no later than 22 April 2008. Funding will cease at the end of December 2008. You can find out more on InfoBase.
I moved on to visit Beeston Primary School where Chris Lees, the new headteacher, is doing a great job building on the legacy left by Bobbie Syrett...

It was wonderful to be able to talk to Chris about the school, the real strengths he is building on and the areas where he is already seeing a real difference. OFSTED recently highlighted Chris' style and vision , his good management and successul leadership and the support he receives from his senior team as the key characteristics of this good, improving and inclusive school.

Chris also took me round the school to meet some of his talented colleagues and some of his wonderful children. Chris has already improved the reception and office areas and we agreed that the real challenges in moving from good to great are being addressed. However, in common with many primary schools across the city, the greatest limiting factor is the buildings which I hope we can work on with Chris over the next few years.
I started the day with the National Association of Traveller Teams at the West Park Centre...

It's an exciting time to be in traveller education especially as they are now being renamed and rebranded 'Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Achievment Services'. As you know we have a stunning team here in Leeds led by Peter Saunders. Peter and the team have led the national developments which include a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month in June, a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Achievers Awards event, a National and local Poster competition, a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Ideas Magazine and Guides to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities for all schools... all the ideas coming from Peter and his talented colleagues who are co-ordinating the work for the DCSF.

I hope that every school in Leeds will get involved in this in some way to celebrate the culture and heritage of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. You can find out more by visiting the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month website at or our team's wonderful website at

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

I have been reading the Executive Board reports for Friday's meeting...

The two Annual Standards Reports, one for primary and one for secondary, make fascinating reading. My colleagues, Chris Halsall and Brian Tuffin, have done a brilliant job and produced intelligent and perceptive analyses of the real challenges we still face. The reports show the real progress we are making and the areas where we need to work even harder. You can read the reports at

Monday, 4 February 2008

After the terrible incident on Friday I emailed my colleague John McCall, headteacher at Allerton Grange High School...

"Dear John, Everyone involved with the school on Friday tells me how impressive you and your colleagues were and how well you handled a student's moment of madness and its terrible consequences. I hope that you have managed to get a few moments peace over the weekend. I know that everyone will been thinking about you, your colleagues and the young people at Allerton Grange. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help this week.
Best wishes, Chris"

John's reply was typical of the man...

"Dear Chris, Thank you very much for your kind message of support regarding the serious incident which occurred in school on Friday. It is, as you can imagine, a very difficult time for staff, students and parents. However, I can't stress enough the value I place on the support I have had from teams in Education Leeds and the Police. I am determined to lead the school to a peaceful outcome. Kind regards, John"

The stabbing at Allerton Grange High School reminds us all that we must work even harder to explain to all our young people that carrying weapons of any kind is unacceptable. Colleagues at Allerton Grange High School coped brilliantly and ensured that the school continued to work and that its young people were all safe. We must remember that this is a unique event in a Leeds school and we must work with parents and carers and the police to ensure that our schools continue to be happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful places... whatever it takes!

We have been watching events elsewhere in the country and we will continue to develop the weapons awareness sessions we have been running in schools. We will encourage all secondary schools to sign up to a no knives, no guns and no nonsense approach involving all their students which has already been piloted here in Leeds.

Whatever you do this week, think about the colleagues at Allerton Grange High School and keep the faith!
I received this message from Jonathan White, headteacher at Woodkirk High School...

"Hi Chris, Just a note of thanks - I took your blog information on "If the world population was reduced to 100......" and made it into an assembly. Several students and staff were very appreciative. Also the comments on the e-pc, I took your advice and invested in one. Our English department were very impressed and so we have bought 30 of them for the pupils. (If it goes horribly wrong I'm blaming you!). Have a good weekend. Jonathan"