Saturday, 21 June 2008

I am sitting here working on my minibook as usual and I noticed that there is an article about the RM Asus Minibook in the Times Educational Supplement this week...

Ben Egerton thinks that while the minibook is not perfect it could be just right for schools. I agree with some of Ben's reservations but like Ben think that overall it is a magical little box of tricks... small, beautiful and almost perfect for schools and young people. If RM could increase the screen size and get it a bit cheaper still the RM Asus Minibook would steal every show!
it was great to read about Phil Robertson, who teaches at Otley All Saints CE Primary School, in this week's Times Educational Supplement...

Phil is training to run the 95-mile West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William to raise money for Epilepsy Action. Yet another great colleague going the extra mile.

Friday, 20 June 2008

I met three of my secondary headteacher colleagues at the Secondary SEAL conference this morning...

Joanna Ruse from Crawshaw School, Bill Pullen from Farnley Park High School and Annette Hall from Intake High School Arts College are three headteachers doing a brilliant job in challenging circumstances and at the same time recognising the critical importance of social and emotional well-being to the standards agenda. Their passion, commitment, understanding and leadership is helping to build strong and highly effective teams at these schools and most importantly is delivering better outcomes for young people. Outcome not simply measured by GCSE scores, important as they are, but across the five @Every Child Matters' outcomes to ensure that their students are happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes!

I look forward to seeing their GCSE results this summer and more importantly celebrating the journey the three schools have been on and helping them in the future as they move from satisfactory to good to brilliant learning places.
I started the day at the Secondary SEAL Conference...

The conference had been organised by Chris Pollard, our Head of National Strategies, and her team. Professor Katherine Weare from Southampton University, talked about the research base and the eveidence supporting the SEAL programme and Bill Skelding from Levenshulme High School in Manchester talked about being involved in the pilot of the SEAL materials in secondary schools. Students from five primary schools across Leeds also talked about the importance of the primary SEAL programme and the impact it has had in their schools. After lunch colleagues from Carr Manor, Brigshaw, Farnley Park, Royds and Boston Spa High Schools were delivering workshops on the 'emotionally literate classroom', 'peer mentoring', 'the new curriculum', 'whole school approaches' and 'subject approaches' to SEAL.

We have so much to be proud of here in Leeds... our amazing young people, our fantasic schools, our talented colleagues and our creative and imaginative approach to important initiatives and developments. This was a brilliant event wonderfully organised by Chris and her team... the only worry was that not all our secondary schools benefited from being there, hearing such wonderful inputs and taking part in the workshops!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

I missed an important event last night but my colleague Rehana Minhas, Director for Equality and Entitlement, attended and sent me this e-mail...

"Dear Chris, The Gypsy Roma Traveller Exhibition was opened at the Leeds Central Library yesterday evening. It is excellent, inspirational and I would encourage all colleagues to make time to see it. It has the work of GRT artists as well as the winning entries for the national poster competition for the GRT History month. It was wonderful seeing the pride with which a 7 year old showed her mum her work- a Leeds entry which was a runner up for the national competition. Peter Saunders, Til Wright and the team have worked incredibly hard with brilliant creative ideas for the engagement of schools both in Leeds and nationally. Congratulations and well done. Rehana"

It is great to see colleagues leading the way nationally to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes in such an important area. I hope that you will be able to get to the Central Library to see the exhibition.


Wednesday, 18 June 2008

This afternoon I met my colleague Sheila Davenport, who leads the Willows Young Carers project we support with our partners at Barnardos...

This is an inspiring initiative which has given a voice to this wonderful group of young people whose creativity and sensitivity shines through the work they have been doing with Sheila. Sheila tells me that there are over 2000 young carers, aged 5 to 19, here in Leeds that's around 2% of our young people; five or six in an average primary school and twenty to thirty in an average secondary school. Clearly every school in Leeds needs to take the needs of young carers very seriously. If you need help and support contact Sheila and her team of brilliant young carers who will be able to help. The website is
I went on to visit another wonderful little primary school this morning...

I visited Wykebeck Primary School where Helen Cockerham and her colleagues are doing great things, releasing a very special magic and making a real difference to children, families and the community in South Gipton. Helen has a passion, focus and energy which was wonderful to see as we walked around the school. It is also deeply encouraging that, with the help of colleagues from Education Leeds and the Intensifying Support Programme, the team at the school have focused on improving teaching and assessment for learning, managing behaviour through assertive discipline and have developed tracking and monitoring to ensure that standards and progress lie at the heart of the school's practice. Powerful stuff especially when at the same time they are ensuring that the children are, importantly, happy, healthy and safe... it's incredibly hard work but magic if you can do it!

Helen took me round the school to meet some of her colleagues and some of her wonderful children and it was inspiring.
I started the day with colleagues from the Bertelsmann Foundation...

As you know, if you are an avid reader of the blog,Education Leeds has been nominated for the Annual Carl Bertelsmann Prize 2008 which this year focuses on 'Integration through Education'. Education Leeds has got through to the final shortlist for the prize and the team were back making a film to show at the award ceremony in September.

It is even more recognition of the brilliant work colleagues are doing in schools, Children's Centres, CLCs, study support centres and here at Education Leeds to support children and young people from assylum seeker, refugee, migrant worker, gypsy, roma and traveller and BME communities.

AND, you never know we just might win!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Another week cluttered by email, paper and meetings but brought to life by some special individuals and visits to two brilliant learning places...

I met Allan Blagaich, executive director of Metropolitan Schools at the Department of Education and Training for the Government of Western Australia. Allan was visiting Liz Talmadge, executive headteacher at the Central Leeds Learning Federation, and he was a real breath of fresh air in our world made complex by Ofsted, National Strategies, National College for School Leadership and the DCSF.

I went to the Leeds Art Gallery to an exhibition of artwork by Willow Young Carers. Sheila Davenport and her team do some amazing work with these wonderful young people, and the artwork was great.

The Education Leeds Board held their monthly meeting at Brigshaw High School, and Peter Laurence stimulated a really useful discussion about federated approaches to 14-19 provision. The Board talked to Cath Lennon, acting principal, and her leadership team, and had a tour of the school.

I went to South Leeds High School to attend the celebration evening for students who had attended the ‘Foundation for Peace’ educational programme. It was a brilliant evening with contributions by some amazing young people and really showed the difference Colin Bell and his team are making.

It is sometimes difficult in our cluttered, noisy world to stay focused on the things that really matter, and to keep it simple. However, when you spend time with special people in great places it becomes easier. Colleagues like Allan, Sheila, Peter, Cath and Colin are making a real difference and releasing a very special magic in their piece of the learning landscape.

So stay focused and keep it simple!
My colleague Jeremy Dunford, headteacher at Deighton Gates Primary School sent me this e-mail about the achievments of some of his colleagues...

"Hello Chris, Four years ago my `reception model` resulted in a member of the support staff taking on an associate teacher role. In that time she has studied for a Foundation Degree then Degree and engaged in the Registered Teacher programme. I am pleased to be able to say that she has just been awarded a First Class Honours Degree and will gain Qualified teacher Status at the same time. Her name is Mrs Anne Senior. Another of her colleagues has, at the same time, studied for a Foundation Degree. She has also been awarded a First Class Honours Degree and Degree and has been accepted on the Graduate Teacher Programme for September and will be doing this at Deighton Gates. Her name is Mrs Harriet Ovenden. Many of my support staff our now engaged in further/higher education and I consider them all to be a strength, amongst many, of the school. Jeremy"

We are fortunate to have so many talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues working here in Leeds and it is inspiring to hear about the achievements of colleagues like Anne and Harriet who have achieved so much working at Deighton Gates Primary School under Jeremy's leadership.

Monday, 16 June 2008

I met some brilliant young people today when I visited Thomas Danby College to have lunch with Ken Campbell and colleagues from our Stepping Stones team...

Ken was hosting a YIPPEE visit; young people from a public care background pathways to education in Europe. This is an ambitious five-country study aiming to explore the factors - cultural, social, psychological and practical - which encourage and enable young people to continue their education beyond the school years. The research is coordinated by the Thomas Coram Research Unit and the Institute of Education at the University of London. Those without educational qualifications are increasingly left behind and are at high risk of social exclusion with adverse consequences for health, employment, income, housing, civic involvementand quality of life.

Ken Campbell and the Stepping Stones team are doing fantastic work and forty young people from the programme are at universities across the country. I had lunch with some amazing young people in public care from Carr Manor High School and Allerton Grange High School who are clearly some of Ken's future successes.
The Formula Schools event, where secondary students design and build a small scale radio controlled racing car, culminated in a national event at Silverstone on 12 June...

And the brilliant Bruntcliffe team scooped six of the seven trophies competing against teams from over 40 schools from across the country. The Year 10 team of James Lord, Nasir Hussain, Mitchel Clark, Kieran Rochell, Paul Aveyard, Jamie Pontefract and Luca Hirst was looked after by Bruntcliffe's acting Head of Design Technology Andy Sidebottom.

I hope that we continue to compete in this wonderful event and show the schools across the country that schools in Leeds are simply the best! You can find out more at
My colleague Richard Boughey sent me this after my rant about e-mail...

"Hi Chris, The issue to me is not so much the email or the phone calls or the conversations, it's more that there is a pressure for people to say everything to everyone. The thing I particularly dislike is being cc'd - does this mean I should read/action it or not? I was once taught that you should answer this question before sending an email: I am sending you his email because...? If it's that you need to read page 13 of a 100 page document then you should say that. My worry is that the email free day idea wouldn’t remove the clutter of the emails if we don’t change why we send messages or have meetings. Richard"

And of course Richard is right; like everything e-mail is brilliant if used well and terrible if used badly. We all need to ask ourselves the questions Richard raised:

  • Why am I sending a colleague this e-mail?
  • What do I want the colleague receiving it to do?
  • Why am I asking colleagues to this meeting?
  • What do I want colleagues to do as a result?

Why not try it.