Friday, 24 October 2008

The Times Educational Supplement has announced its' inaugural TES Schools Awards...

These awards aim to celebrate and reward teams making an outstanding contribution in primary and secondary schools. Celebrate your colleagues, stakeholders, suppliers and children and young people by entering The TES Schools Awards.

I moved on to Carr Manor High School...

I had been invited to the Official Sports College Launch with Brian Close, Eddie Gray and Mike Tomlinson. Brian and Eddie are two of my sporting heroes and Mike talked movingly about Jane Tomlinson and her determination, her commitment and her self-belief.

I was proud to be invited to talk at the school's special assembly. I was there at the official opening of the new building by Tony Blair and the journey Carr Manor High School has been on over the last two years has been simply remarkable. The Sports College Status marked a significant step in the journey and the recent OFSTED inspection confirmed that this is an exceptional school with a brilliant team led by an inspiration headteacher.

It was wonderful to be part of this very special event and to be seen as part of the team releasing a very special kind of magic.

Cllr Richard Harker and Dirk Gilleard and I started the day at Pudsey Grangefield School...
It is fantastic; truly a brilliant learning place shaped by Ken Cornforth's wonderful vision for learning and brought alive by a great team and some amazing young people.

This is the future and it really is world class. It was great to see how colleagues were using this truly amazing learning environment to develop responsibility for learning in young people, to coach and nurture their learners and to achieve transformational outcomes. If I was going back to teaching in secondary school this is one of the places I would want to be.
My colleague John Paxton sent me some more good news about ouir NEET figures...

"Dear Chris, Our September NEET figure is 7.61% and represents significant improvement ! Even better than August's encouraging position. The September 2007 figure was 12.7%. The September 2008 result is easily the best since NEET records began, the previous best monthly figure having been 8.2% in July 2005. Every September the number of Not Knowns rises significantly. This September we have recorded 27.19 %. The September 2007 figure was 45.0%. The previous best September NKs figure was 35.0% in 2005. These results are great ! A real tribute to the partnership endeavours and commitment. John."

These results are brilliant and complement the wonderful GCSE results. Well done to John and everyone involved.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Nina Jonsson, Deputy Head at Nya Elementar in Stockholm, sent us this after my colleague Allyn Pazienza and her team organised Nina's visit to Leeds last week...

"Hi Allyn, Thank you so much for organising the school visits in Leeds. Everyone was so pleased and so inspired after the visits. To be honest I have never heard my staff so content after a visit to schools abroad. It was brilliant in every way! Please make sure Cockburn and Morley know how pleased we were with the visits! Best Wishes, Nina."

It simply reinforces the message that what we are doing here in Leeds is fantastic.

The DCSF has today published the report on Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in schools. They have also published the Government's response to the group's report...

The steering group’s headline recommendation is that PSHE should be made statutory and be supported by a statutory programme of study (PoS) – in order to give it increased status/priority in schools. The Government has accepted the arguments for statutory PSHE and agreed to undertake a review – headed by Sir Alasdair MacDonald – to consider how to turn the decision that PSHE should have statutory status into a practicable way forward.

Watch this space!
My colleague Hannah Lamplugh, our Participation Officer, sent me this...

"Dear Chris, I am delighted to let you know that this years Mayor for the Day competition has been a huge success. I have been working in partnership with Leeds City Council Democratic Services to support 15 schools to participate in this years Mayor for the Day competition. During Local Democracy Week, hundreds of young people voted for their favourite manifestos. The votes have now been counted and I can reveal that the winner is Sophie Cooper-Connolly from Boston Spa School. Second place goes to - Michaella Biscomb from Brigshaw High and in third place is Katrina Hendry from Corpus Christi Catholic College.

A record breaking 14 secondary schools and a SILC took part this year and we received almost 7000 votes from young people across the city. A display of all the student candidates and their manifestos will be on display at the Elmete Centre or you can read the manifestos on-line at These youn people, their parents and school colleagues have been invited to have tea with the Mayor and will have a tour of the civic on 6th November. Watch out for the winner and "Mayor for a Day" Sophie who will be switching on the Christmas Lights with a mystery celebrity on the 6th November. She will be presenting her manifesto which focuses on the "new arena" to the 99 Councillors in January 2009. The majority of the manifestos focused on "green travel" and the "new arena" and we will be providing all candidates with the opportunity to come together and explore their fantastic ideas with then relevant Councillors / colleagues within Children Leeds. Regards, Hannah"

Thanks Hannah.

'Take on 11 Million Takover' Event - Friday 7 November 2008

My colleague Sara Kane who works in my Communications Team wanted me to plug this brilliant opportunity for young people in our secondary schools to takeover Leeds...

On Friday 7 November 2008 we are holding a ‘Take on 11 Million Takeover’ event and we want three students from each secondary school across Leeds to attend. The session will explain how the young people can get involved; they will be able to attend some workshops, and help to set our direction as part of ‘Take on 11 Million Takeover’ the following week. We hope that the young people who attend will become ambassadors for takeover in their schools, spreading the word among their peers and encouraging schools to take part.

If you would like your school to take part, please fill in and return the form available on InfoBase, quick code D2001, by Monday 27 October 2008 or contact Sara at
I went on to visit Otley Ashfield Primary School...

It is a calm, purposeful and inclusive little school with a Pupil Development Centre and a Children's Centre and some fantastic grounds including a Magical Garden. The Pupil Development Centre and the Children's Centre are wonderful environments for learning and add something really special to this little school. Sybil Parker, the headteacher, and her team are doing a great job and achieving some brilliant results, particularly in literacy. I was impressed by Sybil's passion, commitment, openness and energy which is developing a culture of excellence at Ashfield Primary School.
I moved on to the fifth Stephen Lawrence Education Standard Awards at Space@Hillcrest...

It was another of those highlights that bring real magic to my week. You simply had to walk into Space to feel that you were somewhere very special with colleagues who shared a commitment, passion, and belief in all our children and young people. Colleagues who share a determination to develop respect, tolerance and understanding across every community in our city.

During the morning, while I was at the celebration, we had brilliant inputs by young people and colleagues from Brigshaw High School, Hunslet Moor Primary School, Pudsey Primrose Hill Primary School, Wortley High School and Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School... and it was FANTASTIC!

It was a real priviledge to be at the celebration and to present awards to some innovative, creative and wonderful schools and early years settings. Our team were there usual brilliant selves and I hope that we will have some pictures soon.
I started the day with Andrew Hodkinson at West Oaks SILC...

Andrew was talking to me about their plans to develop 'excellence through innovation' using the Trust model to further develop their offer. It was wonderful to listen to a colleague who has such high expectations and the aspirations to build world class provision for all our children.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

I went to the Thackray Museum this afternoon...

The museum houses the largest collection of medical artifacts in the country. Cllr Richard Harker had asked me to visit to talk to Almut Gruner, Chief Executive, at the museum about how we could work together. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to Almut about some of the areas where we could work together. It was an exciting potential agenda:
* improving sexual health and well-being;
* tackling smoking;
* tackling alcohol abuse;
* tackling obesity;
* equality and fairness for all.
We could also work with the muuseum to develop a series of young peoples' lectures on these key issues. I promised Almut that I would talk to colleagues about the aspects we explored and get back to her.
I started the day at Kippax North Junior and Infant School...

Barbara Clark, the headteacher, talked to me about some of the challenges they are facing with their building and their caretaking. Barbara also showed me around her little school where I met some of her team and some of her children. The learning environment is fantastic and it was great to see the incredible Magical Garden at their new Children's Centre. I also met Chris the schools' learning mentor and Debbie the schools' business manager who are both doing great things to celebrate and promote the school. Barbara and her team are clearly doing a great job with some wonderful young people.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

My colleague Maxine Squire one of our Secondary School Improvement Advisers sent me some great news...

"Dear Chris, Just to let you know following their inspection Wortley High School has been judged to be a good school. They have good judgements in most categories including achievement and standards, leadership and management, personal development and well being. Care, guidance and support was judged outstanding. A high proportion of good and outstanding lessons were seen over the last two days - only 1 inadequate and that was a supply teacher. It's a fantastic achievement for the team at Wortley. Regards, Maxine."

This is wonderful news for West Leeds, and an incredible achievement for the brilliant team at Wortley High School.


Design a Poster Competition

Hand hygiene is an important part of breaking the threadworm lifecycle...

Design a hand washing poster to help us break the cycle! The competition is designed to raise awareness about hand hygiene and how it helps to break the threadworm cycle. To take part, entrants should design an A4 poster about the importance of regular hand washing. The winning poster from each age group - up to 7 years and 7-11 years - will receive a luxury Caran D’ache art set, trophy, certificate, and have their poster professionally printed for use in schools. Two runners up from each category will also win an art set. Send your posters to the address below by 27th March 2009. Please include the teacher’s name, school and contact phone number, and make sure every poster has its designer’s name, age and class clearly written on it. Send your entries to: Hand Washing Poster Competition Judges, Thornton & Ross, Linthwaite, Huddersfield HD7 5QH

To find out more visit for more information.
Good Luck!
I bumped into some colleagues from the Co-op at the Packed Lunch event today...

They were there as partners and supporters of our approach to transforming school food and drink and had brought along a range of healthy foods, drinks and snacks for participants at the event to try. The Co-operative Group with their focus on ethical trading and meeting social goals are brilliant partners supporting fair trade and local communities.

If you don't know about the Co-op's 'From Farm to Fork' outdoor learning experience or their 'co-operative young film makers' festival every year at the National Media Museum in Bradford or their walking bus scheme or their 'green energy for schools' scheme you can find out more by visiting
I started the day at the Packed Lunch Guidance Policy Training Event at the South Leeds Stadium...

"Healthy packed lunches are the best,
Healthy Packed lunches beat the rest,
To eat healthy,
You don't have to be wealthy!"
Leeds Youth on Health
Our fantastic Leeds School Meals Strategy team have been working on the Packed Lunch Guidance Policy and this session was to help school based colleagues and partners with this key aspect of our work.

Over 45,000 young people take a packed lunch to school every day... around 9,250,000 packed luches are consumed every year here in Leeds. The policy aims to raise awareness about healthy eating and help parents and carers make informed and affordable choices.

Rosemary Molinari, our School Meals Strategy Adviser, talked about the evidence based approach and the public consultation that had shaped the new policy. It is wonderful to listen to Rosie share her passion, knowledge and experience and to see the impact her team are having here in Leeds.

Derrin Porter, Assistant Headteacher at Farnley Park High School talked, about the issues facing our secondary schools with packed lunches, the impact it has on their community, the power of the local shops offering cheap 'junk food' options and the connection with standards and outcomes.

This was a really good session and I only wish I could have stayed longer. Rosie, Elaine and Kate, our School Meals Strategy team, are doing a brilliant job in transforming school food and drink. The resources are available on our website at

Monday, 20 October 2008

I recieved this today celebrating our achievments in developing extended services across Leeds...

"As you may be aware, on 5 November the Secretary of State and Beverley Hughes are speaking at a national conference for extended schools that will celebrate progress to date and the fact that nationally more than 14,000 schools are now providing access to the full core offer. This is a fantastic achievement and we would like to extend our thanks to you and your colleagues for your support to reach this target. However, we also thought it important for you to be aware of what is now planned which may attract both local and national press and community interest.

The conference coincides with the inclusion on the Direct.Gov website of a flag showing all schools that have been recorded by your LA as meeting the full core offer of extended services. This information is part of helping parents and families to be in a stronger position to access services in their local area and is also linked to the work of your local authority Family Information Services.

We think that the publication of the details on Direct.Gov is an opportunity for you to publicise and celebrate the success of extended services provided by your local schools.
Yours sincerely

Dr Hilary Emery, Executive Director
TDA Executive Directorate for Development and Improvement

Sheila Scales Director
Early Years, Extended Schools & Special Needs Group"

This is a fantastic achievement and reflects a huge amount of hard work by colleagues which has started to reconfigure and redefine our services to children, families and communities and is making an incredible difference where it matters most.
My colleague Richard Irvine our Data & Information Services Manager sent me this...

"Hi Chris, Just wanted to let you know that, following Leeds being singled out by BECTA as having some of the most exciting and innovative ideas regarding the CfP initiative, Microsoft have published their case study outlining work carried out across the city. Hopefully this provides further evidence of the excellent work continuing throughout Leeds in delivering benefits to children and young people through the use of technology. Microsoft were keen to point out that the case study pages receive approximately 250,000 hits every day, so hopefully will be a good vehicle to highlight progress being made. Kind Regards, Richard"

You can find the case study by visiting
What a week!

A week when we heard that our GCSE results are rapidly improving across every indicator, NEET figures are falling and the Oakwood PRU is outstanding. We are closing the gap, making a real difference and maintaining the relentless pressure on standards and outcomes for all our children and young people.

I attended some great events: Mike O'Brien's 'Great Leadership, Great Culture, Great Performance' session at The Manchester College; the Leeds Enterprise Exchange at the Village Hotel; the Leeds Strategic Plan Strategy Group at the Leeds City Museum; the launch of the Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Strategy at the Cardigan Centre; and a Community Investment event at Premier Farnell in West Leeds.

I also attended some great sessions: another induction event at the Derek Fatchett Centre; the New Headteachers Conference at Oulton Hall; and a joint session with senior leaders and governors from Boston Spa and Wetherby High Schools.

I managed to visit some great schools: Asquith Primary School for it's 6th birthday celebrations; Ryecroft Primary School for the launch of our School Packed Lunch Policy Guidance; Hunslet Moor Primary School for their East-Meets-West Charity Dinner; Grimes Dyke Primary School; and Harehills Primary School.

Great events, great meetings and great schools marked an incredible week brought alive by great colleagues like Mike O'Brien, Gill Austerfield, Mike Cooper, Margaret Broughton, Jan Toothill, Diana Mann, Elaine Bown, Narinder Gill, Barry Whitney, Wendy Winterburn and many, many more all releasing an incredible magic and building brilliant provision for our children and young people... and achieving brilliant results whatever it takes.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

On Saturday evening I went to see The Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake at the Lowry and it was fantastic...

Set to Tchaikovsky’s brilliant music, this unique production was made more exceptional by its collaboration with the wonderful BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. This is the first time in recent history that the Orchestra have accompanied a ballet performance and it was breathtaking.

Swan Lake is one of my favourite ballets and I have seen it danced by the Royal Ballet and the Kirov and seen Matthew Bourne's version but The Australian Ballet’s dazzling version, created by Australia’s leading choreographer Graeme Murphy, was another incredible experience. Featuring a contemporary storyline full of drama, wit and passion, with more than 70 talented dancers, stunning sets and costumes, the work contrasts heartbreaking duets with lavish scenes at the Royal Court and by the frozen lake, a dreamlike setting where Odette seeks solace from her turbulent marriage to Prince Siegfried. Like Matthew Bourne, Murphy has brought the spirit but also the scale of classical ballet into the 21st century with extraordinary results.

It was one of those incredible evenings where you simply don't want it to end and then you want to see ity all over again. The passion, the power, the discipline, the beauty, the magic was extraordinary. It was a great production of the greatest ballet of all time and I will remember for it a very long time.