Saturday, 22 November 2008

Yesterday Dirk, Ros and I had lunch with Dinneka Smillie...

Regular blog readers will know that Dinneka won the 6th Form Aimhigher Learner category for the 2008 National Aimhigher Awards. Dinneka was with her mentor, Andrew Edwards, host of BBC Radio Leeds 'Breakfast Show' and her tutor from Notre Dame College where she is doing her A Levels. Ken Campbell and Julie Pocklington from our brilliant Stepping Stones team within AimHigher also came.

Dinneka is a wonderful young woman; a brilliant advert for the City of Leeds, mentoring, AimHigher and the work we are all doing to promote and develop our fantastic young people... She is simply magic!


Friday, 21 November 2008

The latest Her Majesty's Chief Inspector's Report highlights the following outstanding schools here in Leeds..

  • Beeston Hill St Luke's Church of England Primary School
  • Meanwood Church of England Primary School
  • Morley Victoria Primary School
  • Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Primary School
  • Roundhay School Technology College
  • St Benedict's Catholic Primary School
  • St Chad's Church of England Primary School
  • St Edward's Catholic Primary School, Boston Spa
  • St Urban's Catholic Primary School
  • Swinnow Primary School

Great news for Leeds.


My colleague Rebecca Suaznabar one of our School Partnership Assistants sent me this...

"Hi Chris, I wanted to let you know about some really good practice taking place in the Inner North West family of schools. On Monday 17 November nine schools took part in a joint family training day. This took place in three different venues with national speakers and the BEST team leading sessions. 181 members of staff took part and the total cost to each school was just £313. The day was a great success and a really cost effective way of delivering high quality training to staff! Kind Regards, Rebecca."

It's great to hear about schools working together to deliver brilliant things.
I went to yet another STEPS celebration event this morning at Hollybush Primary School...

Hollybush is a wonderful building and with it's SILC base and Children's Centre is surely the future for primary education. It's a place where colleagues are doing great things while they wait for Danny Kenny, their new headteacher, to take up post after Christmas. The STEPS programmes here have been one of the real successes and some really wonderful women have had their lives changed by STEPS including four of the award winners at the recent Big STEPS event:
  • Rachel Wood who won the Education Leeds Award;
  • Jill Allen who won the Learning Communities Award;
  • Anna Travers who won the Extended Services Award;
  • Sarah Berry who won the FAST Team Facilitator of the Year Award.
I was really sorry that this was Dawn's last STEPS programme at Hollybush because the Bramley Sure Start funding has finished. Happily she is moving to Meanwood and I hope she will take the STEPS magic with her. I hope that we will get some photos of another brilliant celebration.
I received these fantastic photos of the Big STEPS event last night...

Brilliant photos of talented, gorgeous, brilliant and wonderful women who have through STEPS changed their own lives and the lives of others.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

This afternoon I visited St Peter's CE Primary School to see Liz Holiday, the new headteacher...

This is an outstanding little school releasing a very special kind of magic at the heart of Leeds. I also met Helen who is passionate about an amazing project funded by the Helen Hamlyn Foundation. The school has been involved in the growit, cookit, filmit, askit project for the last three years. The project is supported by the Royal Horticultural Society and the children and colleagues at St Peter's have grasped the opportunities in growit, cookit, filmit, askit big time and the project appears to be going from strength to strength...FANTASTIC!

If you want to find out more about 'growit, cookit, filmit, askit' visit their website at
I started the day at a breakfast meeting with the Morley FOS headteachers at the Manor Golf Club in Drighlington...

It was a really interesting, stimulating and really enjoyable couple of hours with some talented headteacher colleagues who are working together as a cluster to address behavioural issues, induction and extended services. They are also interested in developing a middle leaders programme to develop the next generation of headteachers.
I received an e-mail today from my colleague Inari Salonen, Leading Educational Consultant for the City of Helsinki's Education Department, who visited us recently from Helsinki...

"Dear Chris, Thank you for all the time and energy that you spent during my visit in Leeds last week. I really felt extremely welcome there and learned a lot about education and childrens' services in your nice city. Even if our societies are different, there are many similarities in how we both try to make our best for children and education. Of course I found many new things, like how you arrenge services or staff development, also the volumes and resources you have. It was also interesting to look at many practical situations and see your professional ways of working. For instance I admire your meetings, where you are all involved and there are no outsiders in the groups. It was also good to see both informal and formal meetings. I want to give my special thanks to Allyn, who made the programme, and such a good one. Thank you.

The school visits were great. As always I started to long for the school work! Wonderful children and teachers and other adults working there. I met many kind and interesting people in the big sessions. The smaller scale dicussions about your developmental issues - technology in schools, head teachers’ brilliant learning, brilliant leadership etc. - were something to take with me and talk with people here. I’m sure we have a lot to reflect together. It is possible to find correct canals from one culture to everyone’s own culture.

The best of the visit were people, all of you in Education Leeds. I thank you all very much. I’d be happy to see you here in Helsinki and hear from you in our common projects. Please give my regards to everyone, who made my visit so nice and perfect. Best wishes, Inari"

We really enjoyed having Inari here in Leeds and I look forward to seeing colleagues visit Helsinki next year.


Wednesday, 19 November 2008

I was reminded today why I was bowled over by my visit to Stockholm and the kunskkapsskolan schools with colleagues leading the first phase of BSF schools...

At the heart of the kunskapsskolan model is goal setting and personal tutoring which allows students to use the teachers, teaching spaces, time, the online curriculum and ICT systems to develop ownership, responsibility and excellence.

The powerful element that we still need to develop here in Leeds is the curriculum model which has two elements... STEPS and COURSES. English, mathematics and modern foreign language are delivered through 35 progressive learning STEPS which students work through at their own pace independent of age and sit examinations when they feel they are ready. COURSES are the way other subjects are delivered through six week modules differentited by outcome at three levels. The student and their personal tutor agree the level of difficulty and the student again sits appropriate examinations when they feel they are ready.

The curriulum is delivered through a school timetable which contains lectures, lessons, workshopd

and seminars. The student with their personal tutor puts together their own student timetable and agrees how they will use their them to achieve their goals. Students earn autonomy and freedom as they develop their skills, knoledge and understanding. The school buildings utilise old and redundant buildings at an average cost of around on million pounds for a group of 500 students and the focus is on developing wonderfully creative spaces inside the buildings using study rooms, lecture theatres, group areas, quiet areas, computer pods and cafes.

The system is underpinned by a knowledge portal, the kunsk@psporten, which contains curriculum materials, tools to support mentoring and assessment, reporting to parents and carers and is accessible from home and by parents and carers. Teachers become coaches and mentors still using their subject knowledge but supporting learning across subjects. They engage in collaborative development of pedagogy and learning materials. They also have increased contact time with their students.

A lot of the kunskapsskolan model is already here in schools like Pudsey Grangefield but we need to develop the portal so that anywhere, anytime learning becomes a reality in Leeds.
I attended the ADCS, Aspect and RM 'Shaping Schools for the Future' Conference today in Stratford upon Avon...

The Conference was chaired by Sir Mike Tomlinson and provded an opportunity for a select group of colleagues to look at some of the lessons learned from those authorities already involved in BSF programmes. John Chowat from Aspect talked about the implications of ongoing Children's Services workforce reform and Richard Stiff, Deputy Chief Executive and DCS in North Lincolnshire talked about the corporate approach to BSF. I delivered a presentation on Building Brilliant: unleasing potential and magic!

The afternoon session was delivered by Steve Bolingbroke, who now works for Kunskapsskolan, delivering the Swedish model through the Academies programme here in the UK. The session was a brilliant reminder of what we saw when colleagues from Leeds visited Stockholm and one the Kundskapsskolan schools two years ago.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

I am now at the Legacy Falcon Hotel in Stratford upon Avon for the Shaping Schools of the Future Conference sponsored by ADCS, Aspect and RM...

I am doing a presentation tomorrow at the conference on 'Building Brilliant... releasing the potential and the magic!'
I'll let you know how it goes.
I went on to the 'Big Steps' event at the Civic Hall...
This was another wonderful celebration of some amazing colleagues and some wonderful parents and carers. STEPS changes lives and the stories we have heard from these talented individuals make this programme one of the most important things we do and I am deeply grateful to my colleagues Chris Bennett and Val Cain who have worked so hard to deliver these programmes across Leeds. It was great that Neil Straker also found the time to come and celebrate some incredible people's achievements. I expect like me you are inspired by these people who have changed their lives through the STEPS programme and we recognised today five of them;

  • Rachel Wood who won the Education Leeds Award;
  • Jill Allen who won the Learning Communities Award;
  • Anna Travers who won the Extended Services Award;
  • Saba Khan who won the School Improvement Award; and
  • Sarah Berry who won the FAST Team Facilitator of the Year Award.
Incidently, I also won an award the Pacific Institute Award which is presented every year in memory of a dear friend and colleague Keith Jackson. It was a real surprise and a great honour.
It's Anti-Bullying week and I went on to our Anti-Bullying Information Day at the Becketts Park Campus of Leeds Metropolitan University....

Hilary Farmery and her colleagues had ararnged a day for youing people to find out about how they can tackle issues to do with bullying in their schools... from managing cyberbullying to managing breaktimes from dealing with homophobic bullying to dealing with disability bullying. The sessions highlighted the work of our Anti-Bullying Ambassadors who have just won a Princess Diana Anti-Bullying Award for their fantastic work.

It was wonderful to see so many young people from schools across Leeds at the event helping us make bullying history, building respect and tolerance and releasing the Power of Me.
I started the day with Neil Straker who leads the Pacific Institute team in the UK...

Neil was in Leeds for the Big Steps event and a meeting with colleagues from the Pacific Institute. It was great to catch up with Neil and discuss plans to bring Lou Tice back to Leeds next year hopefully to launch the Pacific Institute's new 14 - 19 programme..


I received this e-mail from Steve Bibby at the DCSF this morning...

"Dear Chris, I am writing to confirm that ministerial approval has been given to allocate 100% new build capital funding to the Intake Academy project in Leeds. I am sure you will welcome this excellent news and I continue to look forward to working with colleagues in Leeds to progress this important project through Feasibility and into Implementation and beyond. I would be grateful if colleagues in Leeds and elsewhere can notify their teams to make sure that work can progress appropriately on receipt of this news. A formal letter will be issued shortly, but I thought you would appreciate swift notification of this news. Best regards,Steve."

This is brilliant news for the Intake project and will see the school continue to fly under Annette Hall's inspirational leadership supported by great colleagues at Edutrust.

Monday, 17 November 2008

I was invited this evening to the first ever Leeds Young People's Positive Achievement Awards at the Royal Armouries...

These awards celebrate the achievements of young people who have taken part in targeted schemes funded through Positive Activities for Young People (PAYP), the Youth Justice Board, the Children's Fund and the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.

These schemes target some of our most special young people at risk of becoming involved in anti-social behaviour, youth crime, truancy and exclusion. They are delivered through partnership working between the Out of Schools Activities Team, Barca, Nacro and Crime Corcern YIPS, Signpost, the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, the Youth Offending Service, West Yorkshire Police, Social Care, Education Leeds, the Youthwork Partnership, Parks and Countryside, Sport and Active Recreation, Libraries, Arts and Events.

It was a fantastic evening with over 200 awards celebrating these young people whose talent, commitment and hard work has resulted in real and positive changes in their lives.
My colleague Sally Bavage, Extended Schools and Services Development Officer sent me a link to the 'Extended Services e-newsletter Issue 4' which she assures me is bigger and better than ever...

It is a fantastic celebration of the work that Mark Hopkins and colleagues are doing across Leeds. It is currently available on Infobase (quicklink code D2134) and will be published on both the Education Leeds website and the LCC intranet.
My colleague Jim Hopkinson, Youth Offending Services Manager, here in Leeds sent me some fantastic news...

"Chris, Please if you get 30 seconds skim through the e-mail below which I sent on behalf of the Youth Offending Service partnership management board to members of YOS staff. Leeds YOS is now assessed by the Youth Justice Board as a Level 4 YOS "performing excellently" . This assessment is important because it will go forward into CAA from next year. The assessment is based on our performance - and the reason I am writing to you is to acknowledge the huge contribution of our partnership with Education Leeds in achieving this level. We are now in the situation where, well over 82% of young people who offend (and are of statutory school age) are engaging in full time in education at the end of their orders. This is well in excess of family averages, and an huge increase on 4 years ago, where access to education by young people who offend was our Achilles heel. It is not rocket science - young people in full time education are much less likely to commit further offences and this is reflected in YOS recidivism figures which are also greatly reduced. Of course we still have work to do, but I wanted to take this opportunity to give credit to the Education Leeds secondees within the YOS, and the wider Education Leeds staff who have worked in genuine partnership with us to bring about the cultural change to enable this progress to be achieved. Regards Jim."

This was the e-mail Jim was referring to...

"Dear Colleagues, the YOS Partnership (Management Board) met yesterday. They considered the Youth Justice Plan and the validation report on our Youth Justice Plan conducted by the YJB. The Partnership also heard about our latest performance and some of the highlights:
· First time entrants down
· Recidivism down
· Education training and employment rates up
· Final warning interventions up
· Substance misuse assessments up
· Mental health assessments up
· Parenting interventions up
· National Standards compliance – our best ever
The YOS Partnership also heard that we are now assessed as a Level 4 YOS. This means that in the opinion of the YJB Leeds YOS is officially assessed as "performing excellently". Paul Rogerson, The Chief Executive of Leeds City Council and Chair of the YOS Partnership, asked me to write to all members of YOS Staff to pass on their appreciation of the work that every member of YOS staff does day in day out. We make a difference to the lives of young people, their carers and their victims. Rest assured that the difference we make does not go unnoticed. Many thanks on behalf of the YOS Partnership for your continued commitment to outcomes. Regards Jim."

What is great about this message is that this is the really, really hard end of what we do and even here we are making real progress and making a difference for some really special young people. Thanks to Jim, hiis colleagues and everyone involved for achieving this brilliant outcome.
After yet another wonderful week here in Leeds, the scary thing isn’t what we have achieved, but the potential we have to achieve so much more if only we can release the magic…

Our challenge and our opportunity is to switch more people on by engaging their interest, connecting with things that motivate and enthuse them, nurturing and developing their energy and potential. What always surprises me is how much potential there is out there. Our job as leaders, as managers, as coaches, as teachers, as parents, as people who care, is to help individuals set their goals, realise their enormous potential and understand that this is not as good as it gets!

Another week in Leeds where I realise that it is all about co-operation, teamwork, networking and partnering. We must constantly celebrate our successes... chocolate helps! We must continue to encourage the BRILLIANT projects, challenges and initiatives that are making such a difference. We must dig deep to continue to find, nurture and sustain talent wherever it is. We must declare war on bureaucracy, complexity and mediocrity and keep it simple and create simply beautiful systems. We must above all communicate and share everything that is great about what we are doing across 265 schools with 17,000 colleagues working for and with 108,000 children and young people. I have been to some incredible learning places recently. And everywhere and wherever colleagues are releasing the magic they are trusted, talented, empowered and effective... brilliant colleagues working in schools and classrooms supported locally by focused and efficient teams releasing the magic and delivering world class outcomes.

AND we know what it takes to build brilliant... it's alive and well here in Leeds...
  • leadership really, really matters;
  • enthusiasm is contagious;
  • small is beautiful;
  • relationships are key;
  • whatever you do be passionate;
  • coaching counts;
  • persistence and determination go a long way; and
  • you tend to get what you expect.

This job we do is too important for any of us to be ordinary. We must all strive, each and every day, to be extraordinary, to be outstanding, to be brilliant. And, if you know someone who is brilliant and has made a real difference here at Education Leeds why not nominate them for one of our 'Spirit' awards. There are eight categories to nominate for. You can nominate online by clicking on this link or collect a paper copy from the central reception in your building.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Have you nominated anyone for the 'Spirit' awards?

The awards are to recognise individuals and teams who have gone the extra mile this year and achieved something brilliant. Everyone is encouraged to nominate a person, team or group for an award. You can nominate a friend, colleague, team member, manager – anyone even me! The top three finalists in each category will receive free entry to the Education Leeds Christmas party.Come on, nominate someone fantastic!