Thursday, 17 July 2008

I received these pictures from the Headteachers Retirement Event...

Great photographs of some incredibly talented colleagues who have made such a difference and dedicated their professional lives to young people and communities here in Leeds.
My colleague Helen Pemberton sent me this e-mail about Horsforth School...

"Hi Chris, When you're next on your visits to schools Horsforth would be a good place to go. The Head of Science there, David Mulvaney, has been working with students this year to enter a rocket building competition. The team won the UK event by designing and building a rocket which had to fly to 215m carrying 2 eggs and return them safely to the ground. As part of the prize the team won a trip to Washington DC. They will also be launching in direct competition with the US winners at Farnborough Air show at the end of this month. On the strength of the success in the competition they have also been invited to take part in an Aerospace Summer School at Cranfield University and the Ritsumeikan Science Fair in Japan in October this year. Also the music department are taking a group of 40 students to Holland for five days from this weekend to play at different locations. They're taking a number of different groups including a samba band, a choir, an orchestra, a swing band and a jazz band. There is always a lot going on at Horsforth which they are often quite modest about, but as the first school to face the new Ofsted framework it is now preparing for the second Ofsted under the new framework. They have much to be very proud of and should be in a position to go for outstanding so any support you can give would be great - a visit would really help acknowledge what they're doing. Thanks, Helen"

It is wonderful to hear from colleagues like Helen about some of the fantastic things happening in schools across the city. Horsforth School is a great school with a great headteacher leading a great team and I look forward to getting there next term.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

My colleague Richard M. Boughey our Service Delivery and Transformation Manager sent me this after his visit to the LGI...

"Hello Chris, Patricia Rose and I had the chance to visit the LGI School today and I was really impressed, as ever, with the amazing work that goes on across all Leeds schools! We had a great time working with a pupil doing a science experiment to determine acidity and alkalinity of three mysterious liquids, did maths exercises on the interactive whitboard, and had a go with kar2ouche. As ever the excitement of the pupils, parents, and staff and in this case the nursing staff from the hospital was invigorating and I'll try to keep this in mind through the more challenging moments of our work. Thanks. Richard"

It is wonderful to know that wherever our children are in Leeds including the hospitals they can have access to inspiring and engaging teaching and learning.


My colleague Michelle Cunningham who is the Extended Services Cluster Coordinator for Aireborough sent me this e-mail after the recent governors conference...

"Hi Chris, I used to work for Leeds Healthy Schools, I now work for Aireborough cluster in extended services. I’m also a governor at Central Federation- City of Leeds and Primrose. I was at the governor conference on 27th June and felt your speech was fantastic. I have listened to you many times but last Friday was inspirational. I am very glad to hear that our strategic leadership team are sending messages that operational staff are also saying. What worries me is we still need to ensure middle management have the opportunity to not get bogged down with systems that clearly make life a little difficult. E.g. if we are to take participation seriously we need to ensure middle management will action the children and young peoples thoughts, idea, opinions- it isn’t a paper exercise. The managers will trust and give allocated space/time for staff to action. Yours, Michelle"

I agree with Michelle that we need to ensure that we balance the system approach and the cultural approach to empower, trust and engage colleagues. We need beautiful systems that support and develop the culture. We need a culture that is shared and owned by everyone. A culture that is about listening and seeing things from the perspective of the learner.
I have been catching up on some of the backlog of e-mails and paperwork and Geoff Roberts who is the Vice-Chair at the NW SILC sent me this after the recent governors conference...

"Dear Chris, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the governors conference myself and to thank you and Liz both for inspirational contributions. The future of governance is a critical issue and one which seems to be on far too few govrning body agendas - perhaps not surprising when I was sat on a table where one governor did not even know the name of the school on the opposite side of the road to them, another did no know what NPQH was and yet another had not heard of FMSS...both of these latter ones were Chairs!

I am reluctant to criticise, yet it does seem to me that leaving the education of our future generation in the hands of such uninformed people is 'dangerous'. I guess that the plea is for much better, more rigorous and compulsory governor training. I am currently agnostic about the idea of paying governors generally but do feel that at least a Chair who is recompensed for their efforts would make a difference.

What do you think? Geoff"

I think this is a debate that is long overdue. Is governance an anachronism?... how do we strtaegically manage the performance of our schools?... what models could we develop that will ensure rigour, focus and challenge while preserving democratic, community and stakeholder accountabilities?

Happy to discuss!
I have been wading through hundreds of e-mails and desperately trying to catch up and not miss something important...

Over the two weeks I was away colleagues have done a brilliant job managing my work and I am deeply grateful to Dirk Gilleard and Ros Vahey, my deputies and to Althea Brown, Barbara Comiskey and Bernadette Robinson my wonderful support team.

Please accept my personal apologies if I have missed something you have sent me over the last couple of weeks. Let me know if there is anything that needs my immediate attention. I promise to be back on track by the time the new year starts in September.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

My colleague Trudi Hannaford from the Carr Manor Schools Sports Partnership sent me this e-mail...

"Dear Chris, I notice from your blog that you like/value 'wake up and shake up' so I thought I would let you know how successful it has been. Firstly, the impact this year has been fantastic not just in raising the level of physical activity in those schools currently delivering under two hours of curriculum PE but also increasing the physical activity of those already active schools. Secondly, the annual 'wake up and shake up' KS1 and KS2 Cty Final was held at Carr Manor High School on Wednesdaay 2nd July and it was a fantastic success. Over 100 young people took part from across the city; Chapel Allerton Primary School were the winners of the KS1 competition and Horsforth Newlaithes Primary School were the winners of the KS2 competition. Feel free to pop in next year if you have a moment. Regards Trudi"

Wake Up and Shake Up has been a wonderful initiative which has taken off here in Leeds and through the work Trudi and her colleagues have been doing has continued to develop as an added extra within our PE provision.
I finished the day with Yasuo Ichihara, headteacher of Ritsumeikan Senior High School in Kyoto, Japan...

Mr Ichihara and ten of his students are visiting Horsforth School which is partnered with Ritsumeikan. They are staying for two weeks and Mr Ichihara and Jenny Hill from our International Relations team in the Council met me to talk about Education Leeds and education in Leeds. Mr Ichihara is apparently one of the most respected science educators in Japan but he was really impressed by the work at Horsforth on rocket science and their use of interactive whiteboards which are not as widely used in Japan.
I started the day with the Leeds Skills Board at Weetwood Hall...

I had been asked to talk to the Skills Board about the work we are doing to raise standards in our schools and to improve outcomes for young people at sixteen. I outlined for the Board the progress we have made since 2001, how the learning landscape had developed during this period and our plans for the future to enable us to build a world class learning city.

We discussed the outstanding progress some of our schools have made which has been recognised by the DCSF. We also discussed the remaining challenges we are facing, the radical solutions available to us and how we need to develop more joined up solutions to tackle the impact of worklessness, poverty, deprivation and poor parenting.

Monday, 14 July 2008

This afternoon I attended our annual Headteachers Retirement Event at the Haley's Hotel ...

My colleagues Helen Ford and Iram Mir had worked hard to organise and manage a lovely afternoon for nine colleagues who have made an incredible difference here in Leeds.
  • Peter Bell from Hollybush Primary School;
  • Maggie Brown from West Leeds High School;
  • Anne Clarke from Benton Park High School;
  • Bridget Forbes from St Phillips Catholic Primary School;
  • Cecilia Hyland from Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School
  • Anne Matthias from Oakwood Primary School;
  • John North from East Garforth Primary School;
  • Colin Richardson from Cockburn Community College;
  • Peter Woodhead from St Peter's CE Primary School.
These nine colleagues have worked for 288 years including 140 years as headteachers serving some of the most challenging and rewarding communities here in Leeds.

The glass bowls we gave each of these wonderful colleagues were engraved with the message "thank you for everything you have done for children, young people, their families and their communities here in Leeds."

We will miss them all.
Well I am back and ready to go...

It has been an incredible two weeks seeing the NHS at its brilliant best AND its terrible worst. I think it is the feeling of helplessness you feel as a parent when something as terrible as this happens to one of your children. It also puts things very sharply in perspective. However, from the moment Felicity discovered a shiny golden pound coin on the pavement outside Leeds General Infirmary things have gone well... the anaesthetics team were fantastic, the neurosurgeons brilliant, the team on intensive care wonderful and some of the team on Ward 23 caring and really supportive.

I am particularly grateful to the colleagues in schools and Education Leeds who sent cards, e-mails, notes and flowers with their thoughts, best wishes and prayers during this hugely difficult time for me and my family. It made an enormous difference knowing how many people were supporting us as we faced some very dark days before and immediately after the operation.

Felicity is making brilliant progress.