Friday, 19 September 2008

There was an interesting article in the TES this week...

The double page spread highlighted an alternative to our increasingly complex performance tables with this year nine extra columns covering everything from the performance of the most able students at Key Stage 3 to the value-added Post-16. The tables will now have up to 44 different indicators and everyone is asking how useful and helpful these tables will be to anyone.

The article recognises that we cannot escape from accountability so perhaps we should look at the balanced scorecard approach in New York. The system has five aspects that could prove useful:
  • it is outcomes based;
  • it combines transparency with complexity;
  • it is focused;
  • it provides an incentive for schools to improve attainment for the most deprived;
  • it supports a bottom-up approach to school impprovement.
The New York balanced scorecard reports on schools under four headings:
  • school environment (15%);
  • student performance (30%);
  • student progress (55%);
  • closing the achievement gap.
The New York scorecard was developed in collaboration with school leaders, teachers, parents, community leaders and researchers. Perhaps we should all find out more and look at how we might develop our own balanced scorecard.
We had the Leadership Forum event at Weetwood Hall...

Sue Rowe and her colleagues had organised a brilliant opportunity for us to look at our vision, values, behaviours and culture and to see how we can bring to life the new Aspirational Culture some of us explored at the 'Good to Great' event earlier in the week. I hope that we can use this as the beginning of a series of events where we develop our new Strategic Plan, review our performance management systems and introduce a new professional development framework.
Thanks to Sue and the team who put together a great day.
My colleague Rehana Minhas has just got back from PeaceJam...

PeaceJam brings young people and Nobel Peace Laureates from across the world together to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our planet... issues ranging from basic needs to basic rights; from water to security and justice. This year we sent 50 young people from five secondary schools to Los Angeles to play their part and from what I have heard it was brilliant.
Rehna brought me back a present; a book 'PeaceJam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace' by Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Gifford Engle. The book has a dedication... "to the countless millions of young peopl around the world who recognise suffering and injustice and who are willing to take action. Their faith is greater than their fear, and it will be through their simple yet compassionate acts of peace that our world will be transformed". I hope that our 50 young ambassadors will play their part in spreading the message of peace back here in Leeds and taking forward the PeaceJam message that change starts here.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

My colleague Andrew Hodkinson who heads up the West Oaks School and Technology College (NE SILC) sent me this e-mail after the Paralympic Regional Handover event at Millenium square...

"Dear Chris, Thought you may be interested to know that West Oaks pupils attended the Paralympic Regional Handover event at Millenium square this afternoon and had a fantastic time. As you will be aware the Paralympic Flag was handed from the Mayor of Beijing to the Mayor of London this afternoon to mark the start of the build up to the London 2012 Games.
Our children and young people from West Oaks School and Technology College (NE SILC) joined other schools and college across the UK in marking this special moment by taking part in "Blind football," "Wheelchair tennis" and " Wheelchair Basketball against Leeds Spiders. They also had the opportunity to meet some talented atheletes and the GB Tennis coach Kevin Plowman. The group really enjoyed themselves and we are all looking forward to 2012 and the lead up to the Olympics and Paralympics in London. These local events will hopefully give us an opportunity to showcase the talent we have in all our schools and will help motivate all our pupils to achieve even greater things. Regards Andrew."

I think everyone has been inspired by the Olympics and the Paralympics and whever I go at the moment people are talking about the opportunities we have as we build up to the London Olympics in 2012. We must find more ways to showcase the talent in our schools and to use the energy, passion and excitement to help all our young people achieve great things.
I often ask myself what are the characteristics of an outstsanding primary school...

Well, I visited one today. I went to St Luke's CE Primary School in Beeston where Eric Whitehouse and his talented team are doing something very special. I think the things that make the school so good are...
  • focused and passionate leadership;
  • a hand picked and highly developed team;
  • talented, energetic, enthusiastic and creative individuals;
  • a clear, shared vision driving all aspects of the school;
  • a rich curriculum offer built on the basics;
  • a stimulating and interesting learning environment;
  • inspiring teaching and learning within a nurturing climate;
  • tracking of childrens progress and achievements;
  • early, appropriate and focused interventions.

This is a great school, releasing a very special kind of magic.

Congratulations to Eric and the team!


Wednesday, 17 September 2008

I finished the day at a launch event for the Business in Schools campaign at the Met Hotel...

The campaign aims to bring businesses together with schools and colleges to create locl opportunities for work-related learning. The initiative is being piloted in Yorkshire and The Humber and Rosie Winterton MP, Minister for Yorkshire and David Blunkett MP were there to support the scheme.

Business in Schools has been developed by Edge, an independent education foundation. We have already signed up all Leeds secondary schools and their web-site contains lots of ideas how schools and colleges can work with local businesses... although as always most of the ideas and strategies are already alive and well here in Leeds. These range from mock interviews and mentoring to enterprise projects and workplace visits. If you are not already convinced there are some interesting case studies showing how effective these strategies can be.

If you want to find out more talk to my colleague Mike Cooper and visit the web-site at
I moved on to Harewood CE Primary School...

This is another small school doing an excellent job. Rupert Madeley, headteacher, had arranged for two of his fantastic young people to show me around the school. Marietta and Sophie were brilliant ambassadors for the school. Their passion and enthusiasm was contagious and they wonderfully celebrated every aspect of this great little school from the curriculum to the lunches, from the teachers and support team to the before and after-school clubs. It was a pleasure to be there with these bright and articulate young people.
I started the day at Haigh Road Infant School in Rothwell...

This is a great little school with some fantastic practice and Sally-Ann Boulton, headteacher, introduced me to some of her talented colleagues including Louise Aston, Assistant Headteacher, who leads in the Foundation Stage where children make outstanding progress. They have also been doing some great work on Healthy Schools, boys reading and 'Big Writing'. The challenges in small schools are enormous but Sally and her team are certainly releasing the magic at Haigh Road.
My colleague Tony Swainston sent me a copt of his ECM connections newsletter

"Dear Friends and Colleagues, This issue of "ECM Connections, The Newsletter", addresses the question: "If you were in control of education in this country what would be your vision for a young person leaving full-time education? What sort of skills and attributes should they have?" and "What is the purpose of education and are achieving this in our schools and colleges?" So, just too fairly easy things to think about there! Through a partnership between ECM Connections, The Pacific Institute and the charitable arm of HTI, I would like to propose a way of addressing these questions and moving towards an answer. If you are interested in this then do have a read. If you think that everything in our schools/colleges is fine then you can ignore it. Very best wishes, Tony."

If like me after reading the e-mail you want to read the newsletter you can find it at
I also received some pictures of the new Pudsey Grangefield building...

I am really looking forward to visiting these three wonderful new buildings to see the magic and the impact it has had on teaching and learning.

I had some more great news today from my colleague Anne Lomas who heads up the Education Leeds Visually Impaired Team...

"Dear Chris, I am delighted to tell you that I have heard today that the VI team has been awarded the consultancy work for the Children's' Services Abroad. Over the next two terms, teachers will be visiting Service schools in Germany, Gibraltar and Cyprus to deliver VI services to children of service families with a visual impairment. Anne"

This is a wonderful achievement and it is great to know that our VI team's considerable expertise and magic has been recognised in this way. I know that this work will be of enormous benefit to Children's Services Abroad and help the team continue to develop and learn and improve the services we offer here in Leeds.


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

At the Breeze event this evening I met another young talent...

Heather Halliwell from West Leeds High School has just won the Foyle's Young Writer's Poetry Award 2008... this simply brilliant young woman is clearly a great talent for the future!
I finished my day at the Civic Hall with Jenny Hill, Adrian Strain and the Lord Mayor celebrating and promoting Breeze...

Jenny is Schools International Coordinator in the International Relations Team at Leeds City Council and she had invited me to a session as part of the relaunch of the highly successful international youth festival to encourage secondary schools to develop their international partnerships as part of their international and global curriculum offer. We want to make this part of the entitlement for all young people here in Leeds.

The session involved a brilliant input by Chris Fletcher and Marie Coleman from Corpus Christi Catholic College and an opportunity to see the new International Leeds Youth Offer DVD.
I started the day at the third annual Bursars and School Administrators Conference...

This is always a fantastic day for a wonderful team of colleagues brilliantly organised, managed and delivered by Fiona Meeson and her team. It is clearly one of the highlights of the financial year and Fiona and the team have developed such incredible relationships with colleagues in schools.
My colleague Rachel Saddington, Deputy Headteacher at Rodillian School sent me this e-mail and these great pictures of her new school...

"Hi Chris, Having read your blog last week I have been shamed into forwarding some pictures of the new school. Sorry they have taken a while. Words cannot begin to describe the building - it is truly amazing and is already having an impact on our young people. Coupled with the improvements made last year, we have a real opportunity to make Rodillian an exceptional school. The sky is the limit! Take care. Rachel"

It was fantastic to read the e-mail Rachel sent me. Like Rachel I think the journey we are all on is about building brilliant learning places that achieve outstanding results for young people, their families and communities... and it isn't rocket science and there is no magic ingredient... it's about leadership, creativity, imagination, persistence, determination, blood, sweat and tears. It is great to see Rachel's passion, commitment, energy and hard work starting to deliver this and taking that into her fantastic new building should release the magic and ensure that Rodillian now flies!
On my way out of the Civic Hall I bumped into some of the Youth Council...

They are a fantastic bunch and we need to work harder with them on some of the big agendas. They thought the new schools were fabulous but recognised that they challenged the way we deliver teaching and learning. Discuss!
I was at another reception last night where I met the high level delegation from Zhejiang Province in China including the Director General of the provincial education bureau...

You realise the scale at which some people work and how disconnected people must be from the reality of teaching and learning. Zhejiang Province has 9 million children and young people... simply incredible!

Monday, 15 September 2008

The message I took away from the 'Good to Great' session was about building a world class Leeds...

Our challenge is to help our colleagues, all our colleagues, to reach their potential and be their brilliant best. Building a culture of excellence, not a culture of OK. A culture of brilliant not a culture of it's good enough.

We have had a good year. In fact we have had a great year. Our best ever...
4 star, good APA, good JAR, our best ever GCSE results and AS/A2 results. We have opened brilliant new facilities... a new City Museum, new secondary schools, new leisure facilities. We've won regional, national and international recognition and awards. At it's best Leeds is brilliant: a place full of talent, potential, energy, passion, creativity and imagination. Our simple challenge is to release the potential, to unleash the magic.

So how do we take that talent and wrap around it beautiful systems and an aspirational culture. We need to work hard and to work now to reach out to our young people, their parents and carers, our communities and faith groups. To reach out to our marginalised, hard to reach and forgotten citizens. We can't do this alone but together we can change lives for the better, to close the gap and take Leeds up a league to deliver world class outcomes for those we serve.

Let's get started tomorrow.
I went on to this year's 'Good to Great' session at the Town Hall...

I had been asked to introduce the afternoon session where Chris Moon had been invited to speak. Chris Moon survived kidnap, threatened execution, being blown up, losing his limbs and most of his blood. He ran a marathon less than a year after leaving hospital, tested artificial limbs to new limits, run most of the world's toughest ultra distance races, climbed mountains, crossed countries on foot, written books and most importantly used his experience to understand and illustrate the process of achievement.

Chris Moon is an amazing human being and he spoke with humour and passion and inspired everyone at the Town Hall.


I started the day early at John Smeaton Community College with the east area secondary headteachers...

We were discussing the challenges we currently face with secondary provision in East Leeds:
  • The National Challenge;
  • The Post 14 Challenge;
  • The Leadership and Governance Challenge;
  • The BSF Challenge.
I look forward to spending more time with this talented group as we wrestle with these challenges and find some creative solutions.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Last week was another fantastic week with a Building Schools for the Future event at the Carriageworks, visits to Allerton High School and Pudsey Grangefield High School, two of the new BSF schools, by Rosie Winterton MP, Minister for Yorkshire and the week ended with the opening of the brilliant new City Museum in Millenium Square.

I also attended an induction session at the Derek Fatchett CLC and a celebration event for the INVEST programme which Jane Haswell runs supported by colleagues from the Families and Schools Together team. Then over the weekend I went to London to see the latest Matthew Bourne ballet at Sadler's Wells.

What I realise every time I get really involved in the arts is that talented people don't do a good job or a great job because they are being monitored or because someone is watching them. They do a brilliant job because that is what they are ... brilliant and they simply love what they do. After last week this is obviously also true about the colleagues who delivered the new BSF schools and the new City Museum and the colleagues in the FAST team.

It is important to always remember that we have a choice and that we choose to work in the team here at Education Leeds. We choose to be here and being here gives us a chance to share our talents, our abilities, our passion and our energy... so whatever you do be your brilliant best and work hard to release the magic!
Over the weekend I went to see Matthew Bourne's new ballet Dorian Gray at Sadler's Wells...

The ballet was a more controversial production that the other Bourne works that I have seen and takes the Oscar Wilde classic into a 21st Century setting. Wlide's dark, obsessive and sinister story of a beautiful and charismatic hero who is also a sadistic killer is brought up to date by focussing on our obsession with youth and the cult of celebrity.

What you always get in a Matthew Bourne ballet was captured wonderfully by the cast of eleven great dancers supported by a talented team of musicians who performed the original score by Terry Davies... power, strength, energy, discipline and the result was fantastic.