Saturday, 18 October 2008
Apparently a Freedom of Information request has revealed that last year only 3.3% of students living in Holme Wood in the south of Bradford achieved 'the expected benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and mathematics'. However if you lived in Ilkley, on the other side of Bradford, 86.3% of students achieved 'the expected benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and mathematics'.
Raising aspiration, expectation and performance is a hugely complex issue and probably the greatest challenge facing us in education today linked to anti-social behaviour, teenage pregnancy, persistent absence, knife-crime. WE are doing great things, but are we doing enough.
It would be interesting to know the highs and lows of living here in Leeds?
Friday, 17 October 2008
The event was opened by John Battle MP who talked pasionately about community engagement, social responsibility and employment opportunities in West Leeds. Dawn Newsome talked about some brilliant work Premier Farnell are doing with Armley Helping Hands and Bill Pullen talked about the support Farnley Park High School has received from Premier Farnell colleagues.
Premier Farnell is clearly a very special company working with Business in the Community and Leeds Ahead to make a real difference to its community in West Leeds. They are one of the Sunday Times Companies that Count and have also recently been identified as one of the Sunday Times Top 50 Companies women want to work for.
Alison Hadley, Director of the National Teenage Pregnancy Unit at the DCSF, was talking about the national challenge and how we are working together on this hugely important national and local agenda to relentlessly pursue and reduce teenage conceptions here in Leeds. Rosemary Archer had asked me to talk briefly about the Healthy Schools work and the role schools are playing in this important work. As the token man, I talked about our brilliant provision; the primary schools, secondary schools, PRUs and SILCs and the improving outcomes we have seen this year. Increasingly we are reaching our target and priority groups through some fantastic initiatives:
- Healthy Schools;
- PSHE programme;
- The Power of Me;
- STEPS; and
- much, much more!
Our collective challenge around this important issue reflects so much of our shared agenda. It is about aspiration, expectation, resilience, self-esteem and efficacy. Our collective response must be about passionate leadership, an inclusive culture, intelligent accountability, local ownership and constant and relentless communication with young people as active and engaged partners who can help us shape, refine and develop our services and support.
The headline percentage at 5+ grades A*-C has increased again, this year by 5.4% and we have exceeded our LPSA stretch target set in 2005, our DCFS agreed target and the Government's own national average target for 2008. The 5+A*-C including English and maths indicator shows that Leeds performance has improved by 4.2%, significantly narrowing the gap to the national average by over 3% points to leave us just 1% point away. There has also been a significant improvement on 5+A*-G performance in Leeds with an increase of 2.4%, building on the 1.6% increase in 2007. Finally, the number of pupils leaving without any qualifications has fallen 1.6% to 2.8%, after remaining at 4.4% for the previous two years. This is all brilliant news.
Please note these are still provisional figures for maintained schools only and don't as yet include the David Young Community Academy.
"Dear Chris, Just a quick note to tell you how fabulous all the staff and students at West Oaks SILC were in welcoming our Swedish visitors. Everything about the day was planned in the utmost detail, and with so much care and attention that we really felt that we had gained an accurate picture of the excellent work they do there. To get the pupils to cook us a three course meal, eat with us, and interview us was inspired! I must confess of being slightly in awe of the personalised provision, and will certainly take away many of their ideas to use in my future teaching. The thing that really summed it up for me was just seeing the joy on every child's face - they were learning through having fun (surely the best way). I hope that you can pass on my thanks, and that of the Swedish vice-principals, to all the staff at the school for a wonderful day. Best wishes, Jenny."
Thanks for the feedback Jenny. I agree that it is a brilliant learning place with an amazing team releasing real magic with these very special young people.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Year 6 children had set up the enterprise company, Events 'R' Us "We Make It Happen"and with £100 had designed, arranged, managed and delivered an evening of inspiration, enterprise, the arts, great food and it was simply magic as these photos show.
It was a wonderful evening and the children were fantastic and certainly did the school proud.
"Hello Chris, I had the privilege to attend part of the Handheld conference in London yesterday and saw the presentation by Cathy Morgan and Joyce Ness from RM about the work of Leeds schools using handheld technologies like the Sony Playstation Portable. They had the difficult time slot just before lunch and just after Mark Standley - principal of Highland Tech High in Alaska, Anchorage who spoke about a project using helicopters to provide wifi clouds! But despite this they delivered an extremely engaging, student focused presentation that was very well received by the large audience at the session. The wonderful work of Leeds schools using these technologies with students impressed everyone and later that day in another session it was referred to a couple of times. My overall view was that with all of amazing people we have, doing the fantastic things they do, we are very placed but maybe a lesson is to layer the solutions rather than looking for single solutions. Interestingly there were so many Eee PC type devices on show that it was hard to find any traditional laptops. At the end of the day my colleague Claire Baines and I listened to Lord Puttnam give a facinating speech. We also stayed on try to win some technology to bring back for the schools of Leeds but I'm afraid we failed miserably! Thanks Richard."
Isn't Leeds brilliant!
"Chris, We have uploaded August data to NCCIS and the results have been viewed and verified by DCSF. NEET is 8.44%. This compares with 9.5% for August 2007. It is the best NEET outcome since 8.2% in July 2005 (which is the lowest ever month for Leeds since records began in April 2004)). The Not Knowns figure is 5.51%. This is our lowest ever for Leeds and compares with 6.3% for August 2007. Taking these two results together, we can say that August 2008 has produced the best outcomes for any month since records began. John"
This is incredible news in a year when our overall results are also fantastic.
"Hi Chris,, Just to let you know we met and beat both the national PESSCL target of 85% and the council stretch target of 90%... we got 91%!! Good news and a big sigh of relief!! Regards Helen"
Helen's passion, commitment and determination has led this work for us and working with her colleagues in schools and clubs everyone has worked incredibly hard to deliver these brilliant results.
As we wrestle with some of the really difficult issues and challenges facing us in education as we strive to deliver better outcomes for children and young people across the city, it is great to have such incisive and well informed coverage. It is brilliant to have such focused and articulate editorials providing the answers and keeping us on our toes.
Honestly, I am simply bowled over by the journalistic standards our local paper reaches.
Sitting there for two hours listening to inputs on governance, performance management, renewing and refreshing the targets and the implications of the changing economic climate makes you wonder if the answers really do lie in more priorities, more targets and stronger and deeper accountability systems or is there life after yet more corporate assessment. I know that this is the lifeblood of some of my colleagues but for me you can't disentangle accountability from leadership and culture. You can't talk about impact without talking about relationships. You can't tell the story unless you develop creativity and innovation.
Someone told me the other day that the difference between leadership and management is captured by the story about the child who learns to crawl. The manager works on a better crawl, a faster crawl and a more efficient crawl while the leader encourages the child to stand, to walk, to run, to climb and to fly!
If you haven't been to the new Museum go; it's fantastic!
This is always a great event and this year it was in a fantastic setting at Oulton Hall. Elaine had organised a wonderful programme with inputs from Chris Halsall, Vanessa Huws-Jones and Elaine on structure, support, mentoring, school improvement planning and needs identification. There was also a session on the creative curriculum by Sarah Creighton, Headteacher at The Hill Primary School in Barnsley and tomorrow Simon Camby, Headteacher at Brodetsky Primary School, is delivering a 'Headship for Real' day. Elaine had also organised a 'service providers market place' to allow our new colleagues to network and connect with some of the outstanding teams around them here in Leeds.
These are some amazing colleagues and it is a real priviledge to work with them as we build brilliant here in Leeds with another fantastic group of talented, brilliant, gorgeous, wonderful and new headteachers. I am only sorry that some new headteachers missed out on the opportuinity to network, connect and be inspired!
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
We were looking at how we include the schools in the next round of the Building Schools for the Future programme and it was a stimulating and interesting evening with people who share our passion, our commitment to excellence and want to build brilliant provision to serve the communities in North East Leeds.
Grimes Dyke Primary School is facing the future with a smile after their OFSTED inspection in July recognised that so much about this wonderful little school is great including the leadership provided by Diana Mann and her Deputy.
I've visited the school many times over the years and the things that make this little school so good are...
- committed and passionate leadership;
- some very talented, enthusiastic and creative lead teachers;
- a clear vision driving all aspects of the school;
- a rich curriculum offer strongly rooted in 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 good school, releasing a very special kind of magic under Diana focused leadership.
Rosie Molinari, our School Meals Strategy Adviser, had invited me to the school to meet the School Council with Jan Toothill, headteacher, and to talk about the new Education Leeds Packed Lunch Policy Guidance. The children were really well informed and had already tackled fizzy drinks and introduced water and a fruit tuckshop. They were now looking at how they could reduce salt and fat from their diets. These children were brilliant ambassadors for healthy food and drink and did Jan and her team proud.
This is a fantastic school. Margaret Broughton, the consultant headteacher, Jenni Thomas, Creative Curriculum Leader, and Ian Forster, Chair of Governors talked me through the thinking and the planning which are shaping the approach the school has adopted. Jenni also gave me copies of their 'Harehills Creative Curriculum' and their 'Learning to Learn' publications which really demonstrate incredible hard work and commitment around building a skills based thematic and creative approach to the curriculum... it really is fantastic!
Margaret, Jenni and Ian also showed me round the school to meet some of the learning team and some of the children. They are doing great things through a creative curriculum they have developed based on Mick Waters' and Ken Robinson's work. The things that make Harehills Primary School so good are...
- focused and passionate leadership;
- a highly developed team of talented, energetic, enthusiastic and creative individuals;
- a rich, creative and skills based curriculum;
- a bright, stimulating and interesting learning environment;
- inspiring teaching and learning within a nurturing climate;
- tracking of children's progress and achievements;
- early, appropriate and focused interventions.
"Hi Chris, I wanted to drop you a line to say how inspired I was by my visit to Allerton High School and Pudsey Grange last Friday. I have spoken to colleagues and friends (both inside and outside Education) about how inspired and excited I was by what I witnessed at the schools. It is clear to me that the schools have extremely strong leadership with a very clear vision about how they are improving teaching and learning in their new schools. I genuinely believe you are creating world class schooling exemplars in Leeds that will help prepare the young people who attend them for the challenges they will face as they move on through their education and ultimately for the world of work they will enter. I am resolved to make sure that the issues that we have had at the schools get fixed as quickly as possible and I held a full internal review of the situation with colleagues yesterday to this end. I am fully committed to ensuring we can focus our efforts on working as a part of the LEP, and to play our part in the educational transformation that is taking place in Leeds. Best regards, Terry"
It is brilliant to know that we have strong, successful and determined partners working with us here in Leeds to build brilliant provision for our young people. It is also great to hear that what we are doing is world class!
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
"Hi Chris, I am writing to firstly thank you on behalf of the group from Sweden for the wonderful and stimulating visit we had last week in Leeds. The arrangements and support from Allyn and her team were first class and she and her colleagues should be congratulated on providing such a fine programme. Secondly all of your team who offered their time, expertise and knowledge during the morning discussion groups should be commended on an excellent job and really this is the key to knowledge sharing and exchange and the networking of senior professionals. Thirdly, I would like to thank all of your heads from the four schools visited as well as their teams and the students involved who really inspired the group to ‘think outside the box’. We were so impressed by the work done at the schools and the wonderful atmosphere we found in all four of the schools visited. A great and truly warm thank you to all concerned and especially the schools, Carr Manor High, Carr Manor Primary, Notre Dame 6th Form College and Park Spring Primary. Additionally we would like to thank The Derek Fatchett Learning Centre for a very stimulating visit which by the way is going to bring real life benefit to the children of Sollentuna as some ideas gained are going to flow on into a newly developed youth centre. These opportunities to share knowledge and exchange ideas are going to bring both cities many more real benefits in the future than those already gained.
Interestingly Chris in the four years we have been visiting and had connections with Leeds we at ICG can notice a real difference of atmosphere in the schools, a high degree of professionalism and commitment amongst leaders and we can see that your professionals have a real sense of achievement. Best Regards, John"
It's great to get feedback like this and it simply reinforces what I have been saying... the future is here in Leeds it's just inconsistently distributed.
"Dear Mr Edwards, I am writing to you regarding the West SILC in Leeds. You may know that they have been successfully running the MOVE Programme for a number of years now, under the guidance of Sarah Riley, the schools’ PMLD Co-ordinator. The MOVE Programme is an innovative approach to working with children with severe physical disabilities. The underlying philosophy is one of teamwork with the child and their parents at the centre. MOVE is a mobility based programme focusing on what a child can do and it aims at giving each individual the opportunity to learn new skills. These can be small achievements from holding their head up independently for 30 seconds to larger ones, such as being able to walk themselves out to the playground so that they can play with their friends.
Since the implementation of the MOVE Programme at West SILC many children and young people have benefited not only from an improvement in physical skills but also the development of communication skills and an enhancement in self esteem, dignity and overall quality of life. To acknowledge the success of MOVE at West SILC we intend to award them Regional Centre status.
A Regional Centre is an exemplar of good practice, tying in the MOVE principles with the aims of the local authorities. It is a place where teamwork, progress and social inclusion are a natural part of the daily running of the school. Although there are over three hundred schools/centres throughout the UK using the MOVE Programme, only nine have achieved the status of a MOVE Regional Centre of Excellence, which is an indication of the level of work being carried out at West SILC.
As a Regional Centre, West SILC will be the point of contact within West Yorkshire for any other schools or centre who wish to learn more about the MOVE Programme. Officials from other schools or centres will be welcome to visit the site and to see the progress of the children who are following a MOVE Programme. Sarah Riley as one of our MOVE Consultants will be able to answer any questions.
The launch event for West SILC to become a Regional Centre of Excellence will be held on November 5th. We very much hope that you will be able to attend this event and to show your support for the wonderful progress that is being made on a daily basis. Yours sincerely,
It is brilliant to hear about the West SILC becoming a centre of excellence
"Chris, I note from your blog that British Council are looking to support activities at KS3 including Enterprise. Our next Secondary Enterprise Forum is on 23rd October and has a focus on evaluation and curriculum development looking at how enterprise is integrated. THis will include KS3. We could enrol 10 schools from the forum to engage with this project and get something moving.Aware that we don't want everyone contacting British Council are you content with us promoting the idea and offering propsals to Council? Regards Mike"
Mike will take up the challenge so we don't miss this opportunity... which is great.
The plan was to find one talented young athlete that the hotel could help to fulfill their potential.
But when it came to choosing the winner, things got tricky. The applications were so good that Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa’s General Manager, Gordon Jackson, decided to award not one sponsorship package, but three. Fiona Berry, 15, Sam Parker, 15, and Rachael Speight, 16, so impressed Gordon that each of them was awarded the special red letter prize. The three winning candidates have been awarded a year’s membership to use the hotel’s spa and gym facilities so that they can continue their sporting development. They will also receive invaluable, specialist training and nutritional guidance from a qualified team of experts.
Sam is a student at Temple Moor High School and is a keen participant in a number of sports, particularly rugby, cricket, football and badminton. He plays for Whitkirk Cricket Club, Leeds Taveners, his school cricket team, Colton Juniors Football Club and has represented Leeds at badminton. He has been described by his rugby coach as “a very professional player, both on and off the field”.
Rachael is a student at Garforth Community College, and despite winning the hockey National Shield 2007 with Leeds Adel Carnegie Hockey Team, has an even greater talent for athletics. She is currently ranked 13th in the UK in the 300m sprint, and holds the all-time record at Leeds City Athletics Club for both under 17s and senior women. She has targeted the 2016 Olympics, and maybe even 2012, if her training goes well.
This is a brilliant initiative. Let's hope Fiona, Sam and Rachael use this opportunity to take their talents to new heights and achieve even greater things.
In September I suggested that 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.
- school environment (15%);
- student performance (30%);
- student progress (55%);
- closing the achievement gap.
It's great to know that the DCSF are listening and that we are finding out more and looking at how we can develop our own balanced scorecard.
These sessions always inspire me as I meet great new colleagues who have made that decision to join the A Team... the best education team anywhere! These colleagues bring creativity, imagination, ideas and experience and they certainly are talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful additions to their teams.
Our job is to continue to develop the leadership and culture that will release their potential, their magic, their passion and target their hard work to make a real difference for our children and young people.
Mike Cooper and his colleagues had developed the exchange as a mechanism for linking business and schools and had attracted over 40 business partners and colleagues from 22 of our secondary schools... brilliant!
Asquith Primary School opened on 14th October 2002 with five children and is now a thriving little one form entry primary school with over 200 children. Gill Austerfield, the headteacher, has worked incredibly hard to build a wonderful little primary school that aims to be 'a school where achievement is high and every child is able to develop and thrive within a supportive atmosphere where learning is fun and the value of each individual is evident'.
At their special celebration assembly, the older children sang and talked about their school and their aspirations and it was wonderful. I wish more of the people who said this school was mistake could have been there this afternoon to see what Gill and her talented team are doing... simply releasing the magic!
I was there for the BSF Gateway Review which is an assessment commissioned by Dave Page, Deputy Chief Executive of Leeds City Council who 'owns' the BSF Project. An independent team of experienced colleagues are carrying out the review to help us learn from the early work on the BSF schools. I'll let you know what they tell us about further developing and improving our delivery of this hugely important project.
We had visitors from Sollentuna in Sweden, from Land Securities Trillium and from RM who all talked about the brilliant things we are doing here in Leeds... building truly world class provision.
I visited some brilliant learning places:
- the David Young Community Academy with the Education Leeds Board;
- the new Rodillian School with Cllr Harker;
- Colton Primary School with Cllr Harker to see the npower Climate Cops;
- Great Preston CE Primary School to attend the official opening of their new building;
- Thorner CE Primary School to open their new library.
We also had individual success with talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful Nicola Davies from Garforth Green Lane Primary School being made MFL Teacher of the Year.
The more time I spend here in Leeds the more I realise the potential we have to build brilliant and in a way the last week captured so much of that collective and individual magic. Colleagues like Ros McMullen, Andy Goulty, Alison Wrigglesworth, Nicola Davies, Heather Scott and many, many, many more who are transforming learning in Leeds and delivering outstanding provision across the city.
Despite the noise and the criticism we must press on with our mission to build a learning landscape where every child and every young person is happy, healthy, safe and successful... whatever it takes.
"Hi Chris, We would like to invite you to participate in a new opportunity for Local Authority/cluster partnerships with schools in the East Asia Region (South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and Japan). This Programme has been developed and will be funded by the British Council. The QCA (and equivalents in NI and Wales) along with curriculum experts from the other participating countries were also involved in the development of this programme to ensure that the ensuing projects can build into the new KS3 curriculum in England as well as the curricula of the other participating countries.
This programme has been developed to reflect the growing importance of the global dimension in the curriculum. Issues of global significance are brought into our lives in a way that they never were for previous generations. Global media and communications, travel and immigration mean that we now have much more exposure to people and cultures from many different parts of the world. This provides a tremendous range of positive opportunities to broaden young people’s experience and knowledge. At the same time, issues of poverty, inequality, conflict, and economic and environmental damage present major challenges for society. Education for the global dimension and sustainable development helps young people to appreciate these challenges and opportunities and to recognise their responsibilities as members of a global community.
This new programme will involve 1 Local Authority or equivalent (a group of at least 10 schools) forming a partnership with two regions from different countries in the E Asian region.
The partnerships (at least initially) will not be school to school but area to area. At least 10 secondary schools (KS3) per LA/Cluster need to be involved. The partnerships will be represented by three participants at a contact seminar, where the partnerships will be formed and the joint projects agreed. We suggest that the three participants include someone from the Local Authority, one Headteacher and one teacher (from separate schools). At least one of these representatives needs to have ICT expertise or knowledge.
Partnerships will carry out joint projects around one or more of the following themes which were agreed as relevant by all the curriculum experts; Enterprise, Tomorrow’s World, Science and Invention, Climate Change, Sports and Health. Issues to do with Global Citizenship will be included in all the projects. If you have an existing partnership with a school or Authority in the region, it may be possible to include them in this initiative if they have applied to take part in their own county.
The British Council will provide; An online platform to carry out the project and some training on how to use that platform at the contact seminar. A project framework and regular additions of materials related to the themes to the on-line platform. 3 funded places per participating Authority or cluster to attend a contact seminar A grant of £1000 per annum to each participating region to cover costs relating to the administration of the project within the UK and the costs of at least one meeting per term for all ten schools. International student and teacher conferences in year 3 of the programme.
If you would be interested in participating or if you have any questions or comments please contact Andrew Vivian email@example.com or Kate Elders (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the British Council. Best wishes, Gareth and Vicky"
This is an interesting project and a wonderful opportunity to connect.
Monday, 13 October 2008
The day was organised by The Pacific Institute and consisted of two sessions delivered by Mike O'Brien; one on 'Culture Matters' and another on ''Measuring Culture and Leadership'.
The new Manchester College is one of the largest colleges in the country and Peter Tavernor, the Principal, and Barbara Forshaw, the Vice Principal, have used the Investment in Excellence programme to drive it's growth and development over the last few years as MANCAT and are now taking that approach into the new college.
Mike O'Brien's session reinforced the fact that 'it's leaders that make organisations work' and the critical importance of beliefs driving behaviours that deliver performance. He also used gardening metaphors to urge us to continue to prune our organisations and to get rid of the suckers that drain our energy. He asked us to look at the video game approach to feedback in our relentless pursuit of excellence suggesting that it isn't about winning but about getting to the next level. We must nurture talent, coach for attitude and motivation and work to develop skills and knowledge in all our colleagues.
He also argued that it is not about accountability versus empowerment but accountability AND empowerment. We should spend our time clarifying the vision, walking the talk and coaching our colleagues to do the same. We need to be very clear about what success looks like an how we will know if we are being succvessful, We need to be clear about our goals, define our outcomes, provide direction, develop models and provide reinforcement and encouragement to our colleagues.