Thursday, 29 May 2008

We had some more good news today...

We were chosen as one of ten areas around the country to pilot the Government’s 'Find your Talent' programme. The programme aims to give young people the chance to encounter a range of high-quality cultural experiences for five hours a week both in and outside of school. We were successful in a competition which attracted a massive 141 bids which included bids from every city in the country. Education Leeds is the lead organisation and Paul Kaiserman and his colleagues working with colleagues in the City Council and in arts organisations across the city have done a brilliant job to bring the programme to Leeds.

Well done to everyone involved.


I had a present left on my desk today...

My colleague John Normington, our Attendance Champions Coordinator, left me one of their bright red Attendance Champions shirts. It's a collector's item which I will wear with pride whenever I can to recognise the fantastic work John and his brilliant team are doing to improve attendance across the city.

Thanks John.
In an earlier post I told you about the 'Investors in Pupils' event I attended last week...

Two of our schools delivered wonderful sessions describing how Investors in Pupils had impacted in their schools. Mrs Jones, Assistant Headteacher at Blackgates Primary School, along with Megan and Nelson from Year 6 were fantastic advocates for the initiative and did Leeds proud.
Today I received a letter from Megan and Nelson...

"Hello,and thank you for being so kind to us and our school representatives. Lots of different people have complimented us and encouraged us but yours means the most c: Thank you for all you've done for our school. Megan Dawson and Nelson Chipasha."

Thank you to Megan and Nelson who are great adverts for Blackgates Primary School and for Leeds.
Ros and I have just had a working lunch at our ground floor meeting space at Costa Coffee...

On Saturday 14th June Costa are holding a Foundation Day and donating all their profits to their Costa Foundation charity. Costa are committed to looking after and improving the lives of all those living in the coffee growing communities that they support. All the profits from everything they sell on 14th June will go towards providing education, school buildings, teachers, clean water and so much more.

Perhaps I'll see you in a Costa somewhere on Saturday 14th June!
Lorayne Farrington, the Team Leader of our Early Years Support Team and Krystyna Cyrowski-Johnson, the Portage Co-ordinator sent me this wonderful story...

"Chris, I thought you might like to read this wonderful e-mail from Sara, a parent, who has recently received Portage home visits, training and family support from the EY support team. The most fantastic thing is that Sara is now so empowered that she is going on to support other parents and to work with us to further develop our Portage family support groups. A " hot cup of coffee", is something we usually take for granted everyday, unless you drink tea! So when you next have your preferred drink, I hope you will remember these words. Sara,has kindly given her permission ,so enjoy !Regards Lorayne and Krystyna"

"Good afternoon, Thank you for making myself and Ben so welcome at the group this morning and for enabling me to have "a hot cup of coffee".I want to start off by covering a few of the things we have already discussed previously but as you know I don't tend to gush with emotions so here is chapter and verse as I really feel it. From the first time you came to our home and met with us to explain the various different portage services which were available in Leeds I was aware of a warmth which was extended to us and welcomed us on an open and unquestioning basis. You made me realise that there was something and someone who actually cared that my little bundle of "joy" was given an equal chance to access the early support services that you could recommend. The first morning I walked into the group I was absolutely terrified. Terrified of not being accepted, liked, welcomed, wanted or even that my child was such hard word we wouldn't be encouraged to stay. How wrong I was. From the moment I bravely stepped inside I was met by warm smiling faces, genuinely interested people who wanted to talk to me and my little bundle of joy, that is Ben and it seemed they were bending over backwards to help get Ben settled and I even got to drink a HOT cup of coffee for the first time in 13 months. Nobody can imagine just important the group was to me on a weekly basis and for a mum on the very edge of complete exhaustion you and your colleagues kept me going and steered me away from a complete breakdown. To have a friendly listening ear who never questions or dictates but listens and advises where appropriate is the best tonic any parent on the edge could have. Over the course of my attending the group I built several good working relationships and also made friends with other parents who I now consider to be amongs my best friends and many are within my inner circle of trust. I was delighted to be allocated my Home Visitor and by then was feeling quite optimistic that maybe, just maybe it was possible for me with a lot of help to actually get Ben doing some small steps towards making progress in his development.
We had a weekly visit which was just the right amount I felt to give me time to learn this small step. I would enjoy the time I spent with Ben doing his weekly target because it was a quality moment that had a positive outcome everytime even in a very negative week we still could achieve a small success together. Over the course of home visits I grew increasingly confident and felt that I could actually start to learn more about Portage and was very pleased when Ann Appleyard informed me I was accepted onto the training course in the new year. The realisation sank in on the first day of the course that I was so out of my depth within the first hour, yet you encouraged me to stick with it and over the next two days I started to really believe you. I was secretly hoping that i would be good enough to complete the course just for personal satisfaction but now I was even hoping this could be the start of better things to come. I got a certificate, with my name on, to prove I did it and that is where it all changed. I seemed to be able to apply Portage to everything I did, and IT WORKED!!!!! Since completeing the course I have been using the principal of portage in almost every situation I can think of. I have made more progress with Ben in the last two months than I did in the six months previous to the course because now I can apply it to every task and not just one thing a week. The service you offer to families is above excellent at all times, the support and training given is beyond anyones expectations and the quality of staff that are in your team are quite simply the best. I wish I could meet everyone who is thinking of working with the portage service and tell them how brilliant it is and how much they will get from it as a whole family and not just the child. I just wanted to say a big thank you for everything you have done past, present and future. If I can ever be of any assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me. Regards Sara Smithson."

There are so many amazingly talented, passionate, committed and hard working colleagues working for Education Leeds. Working, as with Lorayne and Krystyna, with some of our most precious and special children and their parents and carers who face enormous challenges 24 hours a day every day. It is simply wonderful to have someone like Sara as a passionate advocate for the work these brilliant colleagues do and the enormous difference they are making here in Leeds.

My colleague Alison Yates who is one of our Healthy Schools Consultants coordinating the 'Be Healthy - Stay Safe!' initiative this year sent us this update on the way things are going....

"Hi Everyone, Just a short email to thank you all for your amazing efforts with getting schools to register for Be Healthy! Stay Safe and also for taking the bags of goodies out! So far...

  • We have now shifted 172 bags of goodies to date;
  • We have 19 high schools registered, compared to 12 last year;
  • We have 84 primary schools registered, compared to 97 last year;
  • We have one SILC, same as last year;
  • We have one PRU, same as last year;
  • We have 11 schools taking part in specific family challenges - with over 100 families taking part; unique to this year;
  • We have two sections of the youth council involved in challenges;
  • We have a youth service Be Healthy event happening;
  • We have interest from the local LGB groups and YSHAG who would like to take part;
  • So lots going on...

From now on as well as reminding schools to register - the big push will be to encourage them to submit their action plans to be found at The ones I have received so far have been really useful and informative - and a really easy way to collect information. Thanks again for your support! Alison"

This is a brilliant initiative and Alison and the team are doing a fantastic job encouraging and supporting school across the city. I really hope that every school in Leeds can see how important this 'Be Healthy - Stay Safe!' agenda is and gets involved.


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

My colleague Ken Campbell, our Stepping Stones Programme Manager, sent me this e-mail after I unfortunately missed an apparently wonderful event at the Derek Fatchett CLC last week...

"Hi Chris, Last Thursday we had a wonderful reception at Derek Fatchett to recognise the progress made by students in care. At least 60 people attended the reception including designated teachers, university undergraduates, Leeds University Access Academy, foster carers and young people. I would strongly commend the work of Kaya Barker, the study support mentor at DFCLC and I would ask you, if possible, to send her an acknowledgement of the wonderful work she has done over the last year. With the support of Leeds University, Leeds Mentoring (Barry Hilton), Stepping Stones (Julie Pocklington - Social Care / Aimhigher) and the Frank Buttle Trust, Kaya set up study support on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings during term time for 20 looked after students from various schools such as Carr Manor, Allerton Grange, Parklands and City of Leeds. The students were supported by a range of undergraduates from Leeds University. I am getting copies of the DVD showing the students in various workshops and providing their own evaluation of the work undertaken. We are discussing next year's programme to include continuing support for young people moving on to Year 12. Kaya is absolutely brilliant and a wonderful asset and advertisement for Education Leeds. Thank you, Ken."

We have some amazing colleagues here at Education Leeds, making a real difference for our young people. Colleagues like Ken and Kaya releasing a very passionate kind of magic around some of our most special children. Thanks to Ken and Kaya who are both brilliant!


My colleague Andrea Eddison, Headteacher at Yeadon Westfield Junior School let us know some good news...

"I wanted to let you know that the Teachers Learning Academy recently asked my school to apply to be a TLA Centre as the staff here are very involved in submitting presentations for verification. A letter came this week accepting our Application and Action Plan and confirming that we are recognised as an official TLA Centre. There are only 100 schools throughout the country who have this status; a mix of Primary and Secondary schools -so Yeadon Westfield Junior are in quite a select bunch! We are not aware of any other school in Education Leeds who are a TLA Centre or a recognised TLA School. I will let you know of the developments as everything is still in its early stages - but all very exciting. Regards Andrea"

Great news about a great school doing more interesting pioneering work.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Learning Futures: Next Practice in Learning and Teaching

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, in partnership with The Innovation Unit, are promoting an exciting project that aims to look at Next Practices in curricular or cross-curricular models of learning and pedagogy. This builds on the innovative and highly successful work on Musical Futures which many secondary schools are using here in Leeds.

Their booklet "Learning Futures" sets out the reasons why innovation is needed to inspire young people, and enable all of them to confidently meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Learning Futures argues that some key emergent and some well-known practices, taken together, can transform learners' and teachers' experience of schooling. It is an invitation to secondary schools wishing to develop and extend their work in this direction more profoundly, to engage with the Learning Futures project, commencing in 2008.

You can download the booklet and for further information go to