Friday, 2 May 2008

Sarah Tarrant, Higher Level Teaching Assistant at Middleton St. Mary's C of E Primary School sent me this on behalf of the Eco-Warriors and Garden Club.

"Dear Mr Edwards, I am currently working at Middleton St Mary's and on reading your online blog wanted to share with you some of our successes. We have set up an incredible team of Eco-Warriors that work daily within school focusing on saving energy, recycling and composting. We now recycle everything from our milk and fruit time in key stage 1 and Foundation. All paper is collected, used in models and drawing or collected by the E.Ws and placed in recycling bins on site. We are renovating our school garden and have been incredibly fortunate to be chosen by the Yorkshire Water scheme and have a team of volunteers and funding from them to kick start our project. We will be having an open day to reintroduce the garden space to parents and supporters and I will be letting you know a date if you would be free to attend. In the meantime, if you would like to visit us and meet with the Eco-Warriors, it would be a fantastic boost to their cause and recognition of all their incredible hard work. We are going to apply for the Blake Shield competition that recognises projects in conservation and any support you could give us towards this would be invaluable. We look forward to hearing from you.
Mrs Sarah Tarrant, HLTA."

It is great to hear about some of the brilliant things going on at Middleton St Mary's CE Primary School. Thank Sarah.
I was invited to present the certificates to the group of primary Higher Level Teaching Assistants who have successfully completed our own 'Education Leeds Certificate in Physical Education'...

These talented colleagues have not only completed the HLTA course but also completed 60 hours of training in PE and Sport to become another key aspect of our workforce reform programme. This amazing group of highly trained and highly skilled support staff are now able to deliver this vital aspect of the curriculum.

I am particulary grateful to these talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues who have demonstrated what is possible and to Max Amesbury, Helen Plimmer, Linda Gibson and Monica Tomkiss for their leadership, commitment, passion, creativity and enthusiasm that has made it happen.

Photograph to follow!

Now I am seven!

On 1st May I reached an important milstone in my professional life. I have been here in Leeds for seven years and that is longer than I have ever stayed anywhere! The important thing is that life in Leeds gets better everyday and I am surrounded by talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues who are day-in day-out making a real difference for children and young people... whatever it takes.

Thanks to everyone who has made the last seven years, the best seven years of my professional life.

Sorry that I have been away!

I am sorry that the blog has been quiet now for over three weeks but sometimes life crowds in on you and you can be overwhelmed. However, I am now back and so is the blog!

Last week

I saw Sylvie Guillem dance again on Friday evening. She was dancing with Russell Maliphant in “Push” at the Lowry in Manchester and once again it was incredible … her power, control, movement and magic were simply breathtaking … and for 90 minutes this talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful woman touched and enriched my life.

Who else touched my life last week? Amongst the meetings, the routines, the paperwork, the trivia and the hassle, I had my own magic moments. I attended the opening of the brilliant new building at John Smeaton Community College, where John Daulby, Marilyn Steele and a fantastic team have created something really special. I visited Guiseley School where Paul Morrisey and his team are doing a great job. Paul had arranged for two of his sixth formers to give me a tour of the school and I met his wonderful CHIPS team of peer mentors. I also visited Oulton Primary School where Maria Townsend and her team are releasing the magic at this wonderful little primary school.

What connects John, Marilyn, Paul and Maria is their commitment, passion, energy, determination and hard work which are touching, shaping and changing lives in these three schools. I am also grateful to those colleagues who have in their very special ways supported me over the last few weeks.
Keep the faith.

Two weeks ago

Sometimes we all need reminding that the daily grind, the paper, the meetings, the hassle, the criticism, the politics and the negative people aren't what it is all about. However, those things can wear you out and make you question whether what you are doing is worth it. At those times, we need to take time to focus on the outcomes we are trying to achieve and the difference we are all making.

Last week was great and gave me another chance to see the difference we are making and to remember just how special education in Leeds really is. I started the week at Corpus Christi Catholic College where Cllr Richard Harker and I joined Rosie Denison and the dinner lady who inspired Jamie Oliver, in celebrating the 1000th colleague to complete the innovative and unique training programme we are running for our kitchen staff. The assembly with nearly 1000 young people was amazing and recognised the students' fantastic charitable giving as well as celebrating the achievements of the lunchtime staff at this great school. We then had three hectic days with a group of colleagues from Stockholm and Sollentuna. My thanks go to Allyn, Khian, Carrie, Thomas, Margarita, Donna, Caroline and Claire. These brilliant colleagues managed and organised a wonderful visit for our friends from Stockholm. I am also deeply grateful to colleagues at Methley Primary School, Hillcrest Primary School, Ireland Wood Primary School, Carr Manor High School, Otley Prince Henry's Grammar School, South Leeds High School and the North East SILC who helped us show our visitors the best of Leeds... and they were quite simply bowled over by what they saw!

I finished the week with a fantastic group of young people who were launching the 'Be Healthy! Stay Safe' campaign which we hope will engage all our young people, our colleagues and parents and carers across the city in a series of challenges to improve health and well being and to encourage them to stay safe... and I was bowled over by what I saw! Wherever you go in the education world there are great people... talented brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues helping to release a very special kind of magic... headteachers, teachers, lunchtime staff, office staff... and it is simply wonderful to see the impact and the outcomes.

At the end of another week I know that it is worth it and that we are making a difference to our most valuable and precious resource... our children and young people!
Keep the faith!

Three weeks ago

A week back after Easter where I spent time at Auschwitcz and Birkenau being deeply touched by these dreadful monuments to man's inhumanity to man....

It was a week of meetings but I also visited two great schools; Sharp Lane Primary School and John Smeaton Community College and opened our conference on 'Successful Inclusion for Children on the Move.'

However, the highlight of the week was the lunch Dirk, Ros, Dee and I had with a group of young people from Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School. The lunch had been planned to follow up the issues they raised when we had the '11 Million Takeover Day' last November. Hilary Benn MP also popped in to see them and they were brilliant.