Thursday, 30 October 2008

I spent an interesting hour today with Jonathan Crossley-Holland who used to be Director of Children's Services in Sheffield...

Jonathan now works for Tribal and wanted to talk to me about the work we are doing around the National Challenge schools here in Leeds and how Tribal might help with this important aspect of our work. He is leading some interesting work on developing 'inspirational schools' which is very similar to the work Dirk Gilleard is leading on 'brilliant learning, brilliant leadership'.

Don't miss the 4th Education Leeds Annual Lecture

The 4th Education Leeds Annual Lecture is on Thursday 6 November 2008 at Leeds United Banqueting Suite...

The lecture will be a fascinating opportunity for colleagues to listen to my colleague Mick Waters, director of curriculum at QCA, who will as always enthuse and inspire us on the theme of ‘Leading curriculum innovation’. It starts at 5pm and will be finished by 8pm.

If you haven't booked your place yet, contact my colleague Stephanie Rayford in our Communications Team. You can Phone: 0113 247 5573, Fax: 0113 224 3998 or Email Stephanie will be happy to help.

Book Early for Christmas!

My talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues in Communications tell me that Christmas is fast approaching and that we all need to put a date in our diaries to celebrate our best year ever...

The Education Leeds Christmas party is on Friday 19 December at the Leeds United Banqueting Suite. I really hope that this year everyone will want to come along, celebrate and join the party! I am also told that we will be celebrating the best of Education Leeds that evening so watch this space!

I'll be disappointed if I don't see you there, so put the date in your diary now!

Beautiful Thinking

I was listening to the Today programme as I drove in to work this morning...

Did you know that 'eunoia' is the shortest word in English containing all five vowels - and it means "beautiful thinking". It is also the title of Canadian poet Christian Bok's book of fiction in which each chapter uses only one vowel. Mr Bok believes his book proves that each vowel has its own personality, and demonstrates the flexibility of the English language.

Fascinating stuff!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

I went to see Puccini's opera 'Tosca' last night at the Grand Theatre here in Leeds...

It was good but not brilliant and the bit I still can't really take is the way the directors at Opera North ruin the settings for these great operatic masterpieces. Tosca is set in a church not a post office! Scarpia is the Chief of Police not a sex crazed slathering politician.

Still, looking at the positives, the orchestra were really good, Scarpia had a fantastic voice and Tosca was beautiful, if for me simply not powerful enough singing Tosca's great aria Vissi D'Arte. All in all a good night at the opera!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

I received another e-mail from my colleague John Paxton about NEET...

"Dear Chris, Following complex discussions with DCSF about the intricacies of the NCCIS viewer and how NEET figures are adjusted, we have a revised NEET result for September. This result remains in the "significant improvement" category but is not, unfortunately, the spectacular one believed to be the case at the end of last week. Apologies for the previous information communicated to yourselves. The September 2008 Adjusted NEET figure is 11.2%. Results for previous Septembers were 12.7%, 12.6%, 13.9% and (in 2007) 12.7%
The September Not Known figure is 27.2%. Results for previous Septembers were 42.2%, 35.0%, 39.3%, and (in 2007) 45.0% This is by far the best September. This position was reflected too in August's results so there are grounds for optimism that a significant improvement trend is under way. Still reason for celebration, I think ! John"

It's great news and the trend is obvious for everyone to see.
My colleague Richard Boughey sent me this after his recent visit to Parklands Primary School...

"Hello Chris, Patricia Rose and I were invited to Parklands Primary today by the head, Cath Hindmarch, who warmly greeted us at the door in a fabulous pink outfit. It was a Breast Cancer Awareness day and she had asked us both the wear pink to support the school. I'm afraid my contribution was a pink tie and cufflinks but Patricia was able to provide a stronger team contribution! We were there to talk about ICT and support Cath and the school in their plans to invigorate the ICT provision in the school. Cath and the team have some brilliant ideas but we were able to add to their thinking and are really looking forward to spending some more time with them to develop these thoughts. During our time with the school every pupil we met (and there were a lot of them) wanted to be the head teacher during the 11 Million Takeover day because they all thought it was the best job ever! Once again it was fabulous to spend time such enthusiastic and vibrant students, and the pink buns they sold us were great! Thanks Richard"

Parklands Primary School is another of my favourite places where talented colleagues are releasing the magic and making such a difference to their children, their families and their communities. Thanks Richard.

Monday, 27 October 2008

My colleague Pauline Gavin, headteacher at St Bartholomew's CE Primary School sent me some information about a brilliant project the school has been involved in...

The school has been involved in the growit, cookit, filmit, askit project for the last two years and featured in the 'open futures' linking learning and life publication under the headline 'Not a blade of grass'.

is an education initiative for Primary Schools funded and directed by The Helen Hamlyn Trust. Its purpose is to help children discover and develop practical skills, personal interests and values which will contribute to their education and enhance their adult lives.

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” Graham Greene

St Bartholomew's decided to start growit with its youngest children and gradually extend it across the school. With the support of the Royal Horticultural Society and a dedicated teaching assistant the children planted a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. Hanging baskets and a potting shed followed supported by parents and local businesses. The children and colleagues at St Bartholomew's have caught the gardening bug big time and the project appears to be going from strength to strength.

If you want to find out more about 'growit, cookit, filmit, askit' visit their website at
Last week was a brilliant one. Half-term has arrived and with it darker evenings, colder winds and the shops full of Christmas stuff...

We launched the new Packed Lunch Policy Guidance at South Leeds Stadium and held the fifth Stephen Lawrence Education Standard awards at Space@Hillcrest. Two brilliant events focused on issues that really matter in our quest to ensure that all our children an young people are happy, healthy, safe and successful .

I visited two of our primary schools: Kippax North Junior and Infant School and Otley Ashfield Primary School where colleagues are creating brilliant learning environments and achieving great things. I also visited two fantastic secondary schools: Pudsey Grangefield School and Carr Manor High School where colleagues are inventing the future.

We are nurturing, coaching and training the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, artists, designers, architects, you name it whoever is going to save the world. It is easy to forget in the midst of the credit crunch,the meltdown of the banking system, the developing recession and the Government's bailout of the city that the future all depends on places like Kippax North Junior and Infant School, Otley Ashfield Primary School, Pudsey Grangefield School and Carr Manor High School continuing to release the magic.