Saturday, 13 December 2008

I attended the Elmete Christmas Fuddle yesterday...

I wanted to be there to thank everyone after another great year and as I looked around the room I realised that I was in the presence of some incredibly talented and effective colleagues whose work in almost every area is simply outstanding.

We were also treated to a short concert by children from Oakwood Primary School. They were led by Becky Ingram and they were brilliant.
I started the day, yesterday, at the launch of the 'Free School Meals Toolkit' at South Leeds Stadium...

This is the latest piece of the Leeds School Meals Strategy complementing the work that Rosie Molinari and her colleagues are doing to drive improvements in this key area. We have already launched the 'Leeds School Meals Strategy', the 'Leeds Packed Lunch Policy Guidelines' and now we are working to increase the uptake of free school meals.

We have around 17500 children eligible for free school meals and around a quarter of these fail to take up their entitlement. As always this toolkit is another brilliant piece of work based on strong research evidence and customer engagement and involvement working with colleagues from Leeds Metropolitan University.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Nina Jonsson, Deputy Headteacher at Nya Elementar in Stockholm sent me this after the visits we orgainsed for her team here in Leeds...

"Hi Allyn and Chris, Hope everything is fine with you!
Last Monday the teachers who visited Leeds in November presented their trip to the rest of the staff at school. From their presentation I can tell that they were very pleased with the school visits. They all came back to Stockholm with energy and new ideas. They were particularly impressed by Rodillian High School and their fantastic new school building. They also told me that both schools gave them such a great welcome and that they were treated like royalties:-)

Once again a huge thank you for organising the school visits. Make sure Morley and Rodillian know how extremely pleased my staff, including myself, are with the school visits. I have e-mailed Michael Cornfoot at Morley several times but according to my teachers, who spoke to him in November, he hadn't received my e-mails. Can you help me to get in touch with him somehow? We were talking about starting links between our schools and I would like to
talk to him about that. Finally, have a great Christmas! Regards, Nina."

It is wonderful to have colleagues from Stockholm over here to see the magic.


Thursday, 11 December 2008

This evening I visited Cockburn Community College to attend the official opening of their new Phase One building and the Gala Performance of Jesus Christ Superstar...

The new building is brilliant...

The amazing performance of Jesus Christ Superstar showed once again what young people in South Leeds can do. Jesus was well cast, Mary had a great voice and Herod brought the house down. The stage and setting were great, the choreography was really good, the chorus and band were wonderful.
Cockburn is a great school achieving great things with some incredible young people.
I visited Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School after lunch...

It was great to spend some time with Wendy Walsh, headteacher, who is working really hard to build brilliant at this school.
I started the day at the Civic Hall being filmed for the Tackling Poverty Beacon Presentation...

It was another opportunity to talk about the work we are doing with young people through Aimhigher and with parents and carers through the STEPS programme. Lets hope that we get Beacon Status to recognise this brilliant work.
I finished the day yesterday at Space@Hillcrest for another Playing for Success celebration evening this time linked to the BBC Media Centre at Primrose High School...

It was another sell-out with the hall at Hillcrest packed with young people and their parents, carers and friends. The enthusiasm, passion and commitment of the PfS and Media Centre teams was wonderful and I was really pleased that we were able to celebrate the achievements of children from some great schools, the contribution made by some fantastic learning mentors and the sponsors who support the provision.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

My colleague Richard Irvine, our Data & Information Services Manager, sent me some more good news today...

"Dear Chris, Just a brief note to let you know, that, despite our ambitious expression of interest in Phase 3 Funding that took us well beyond our allocation threshold, BECTA/ DCSF have reviewed our response and have agreed to support this initiative in full across all of our targeted groups. The value of funding allocated will be £347,000. This capital funding should clear on 15 December. This is yet another display of confidence by the DCSF in our ability to manage transformational ICT programmes which have a direct benefit on children, young people and families across Leeds. Thanks to all involved who supported this bid! I will be in touch shortly to draw up plans for this phase. Kind Regards Richard."

This is brilliant news and means that more of our most special young people will have access to ICT at home to enable and support their learning.

Great work by a great team!
I have just received this e-mail from my colleague Wayne Davies at Crawshaw School...

"Hiya Chris, Just returned from London. Unfortunately we didn't get into the top 3. It was a fantastic experience for students & teachers alike. Our team are still winners and, though disappointed with not winning the competition outright, can be exceptionally proud of their achievements and did a magnificent job in representing Crawshaw, Leeds & Yorkshire & Humberside. Thankyou for your support. The judges were impressed that we'd got the Chief Exec on board! Cheers Wayne."

I was delighted to write supporting Jessica, Bethany, Francesca, Abbie and Ryan whose “X BAND Your Future” initiative is a brilliantly creative response to some of the biggest challenges we face with our young people.

Their “X BAND Your Future” initiative aims to get young people to develop respect, equality, friendship, inspiration and sport through their schools, youth clubs and in the community. The challenges would encourage our young people to help their community, to get new friends, to build intergenerational friendships and to get fit. The scheme presents us with a really fantastic opportunity to make Leeds a better place for young people but also has the added incentive that someone will get the opportunity to attend the Olympics and the Paralympics with two friends and to stay at a top London hotel!

Even though they didn't win at the national awards, this is a winning initiative from a team of winners whose ideas clearly are helping to build the future… a brighter better future for all young people here in Leeds.
My colleague Maggie Hartley, Extended Schools & Services Cluster Coordinator for Beeston Hill & Holbeck, needs our help...

"Oh Chris – I’m so glad you enjoyed the Town Hall Concert – I was at home poorly and very fed up because I couldn’t go and see the results of the efforts to get the Sing Leeds South Choir there but hey – such is life!!! Everyone said they were wonderful and I’ve been told that the concert was the best ever! What I’d LOVE to achieve in 2009 is keeping the Sing Leeds South choir running!! The highest costs are in the transport. Without the transport the choir won’t have a Cross-Cluster Community Cohesion impact so would lose its purpose. Artforms have agreed to pay for the choir leaders but we need some BRIGHT IDEAS about finding funding for the transport – have you got any of those bright ideas? I do hope so?!! Luv Maggie."

Does anyone know a sponsor, a company, a partner who could help Maggie and this brilliant little choir?
I moved on to Allerton High School for the Education Leeds Board Meeting...

Elaine Silson, headteacher, showed us around her brilliant new building where she and her colleagues are releasing a very special magic. It has been an interesting term for the school what with moving in to their new building, an OFSTED inspection and an official opening by the Prime Minister. The team certainly deserve their Christmas holidays!
I started the day at Wetherby High School...

Andrea Barnes, headteacher, had asked to see me to talk about the ongoing consultation on educational provision in East and North East Leeds which we are carrying out for the Council's Executive Board. It was great to be able to discuss the challenges we are facing and the opportunities this presents us with in both East Leeds and the North East of Leeds. We all want to build awesome, inspirational provision at the heart of these communities delivering brilliant outcomes for young people, their families and these communities. What an opportunity we have and what strong foundations we have to build upon.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Investors in Pupils in the Guardian

My colleague Hannah Lamplugh , Participation Officer and Investors in Pupils Co-ordinator in the Leeds Healthy Schools team sent me this...

"Hi Chris, This article has already caused quite a stir this week. Following on from a request to introduce the award in Sweden from the company that has the swedish licence for Investors in People, we have received requests for information from several schools outside West Yorkshire and a 'community interest company' in Thames Valley. I will keep you updated. Many thanks, Hannah."

It is great to see that people are picking up on the brilliant 'Investors in Pupils' programme.
I received this from my colleague Stephen Archer headteacher at Gledhow Primary School...

"Hi Chris, We received many 'pats on the back' for remaining open at Gledhow last week. It was great to see the children enjoying the deepest snow they had experienced and staff, parents and children making the effort to be here. I've just read your blog and thought I'd send you a couple of the many delightful images we have.Stephen"

It's wonderful to hear about schools that stayed open and made the best of a snowy morning.
I started the day at Middleton Primary School...

I arrived for breakfast and it was buzzing with a military operation providing breakfast for hordes of children and parents and carers. The coffee and toasted teacake was fantastic and it is wonderful to see the impact this incredible pre-school breakfast club is having.

I had been invited by Sam Williams, the headteacher, to visit the Cooking Bus which is visiting Middleton Primary School this week. The school has been selected as one of the 180 flagship schools to become a national leader for quality school food and food education. The schools were chosen by the Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) and the initiative is funded by the Big Lottery Well-being Programme. The school is aiming to achieve FFLP Gold Mark.

I was invited to a cooking session where we cooked Butternut Basil Bread and Blue Cheese and Pear Salad... recipes available on request! To find out more about this brilliant programme you can visit Why not request a cooking bus visit to your place.

Monday, 8 December 2008

This evening I attended the Playing for Success Celebration Evening at Leeds United Learning Zone...

The evening celebrated a twelve week programme involving young people from three high schools; Cockburn Community College, Farnley Park High School and South Leeds High School, three primary schools; Castleton Primary School, Cottingley Primary School, Middleton Primary School and the South SILC. It was a brilliant evening and the Lorimer Suite was packed with young people and their parents, carers and teachers.
My colleague Ken Campbell our Stepping Stones Manager gave me a copy of his new publication ' Reaching Higher for Young People Looked After', The Stepping Stones Fellowship...

The publication makes it clear that "good parents encourage their children to succeed, support their aspirations and help them to plan for their futures. A local authority must do likewise for children and young people in its care."

The Stepping Stones Fellowship brings together a range of partners with the aims of awakening and raising aspirations, raising achievement, widening participation and creating opportunities for the future. The support of the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University is critical to the success of the Fellowship which is also supported by Stepping Stones, The Frank Buttle Trust, Leeds City Council, Aimhigher, Leeds Mentoring and our FAST team.

Ken and his colleagues are making sure that together these powerful partnerships will change and secure the life chances for all our children and young people looked after by the Council.
I popped in to Elmete first thing this morning and once again realised what a fantastic group of colleagues are based there and that I don't get there often enough...

One of my New Year resolutions will have to be about getting to Blenheim, Elmete and West Park more often so I can tell colleagues what a great job they are doing, take the temperature and pick things up. I also need to attend more team meetings to listen to colleagues and talk about their challenges and the opportunities to continue to build brilliant.
My colleague David Price, Project Leader, Learning Futures Initiative at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation sent me this...

"Dear Colleague, The project team for Learning Futures would like to draw your attention to the call for applications to become a Learn Futures Field Trial Site. The project is aimed at secondary schools who will work together in clusters to develop next practice pedagogy, based upon the principles originally outlined in the 'Learning Futures: Next Practice in Teaching and Learning which is available for download from
Since the initial scoping phase we've been heartened by the level of interest shown in the project, across the education community in this country, and even internationally. It encourages us to think that the timing and ambition of the project is right.
The PHF Trustees, and our partners at the Innovation Unit, are committed to breaking new ground through Learning Futures, and if you'd like to join us we look forward to receiving your application.
Finally, allow me to draw your attention to two important diary dates:
• Four regional seminars will be held to support those considering applying, from Jan 22nd – Jan 28th;
• The deadline for this single-stage application process is March 2nd 2009
If you have any queries, please contact, or call 0207 227 3500
Best wishes,David Price, OBE."

David led the successful 'Musical Futures' initiative that many Leeds schools were involved with and I hope that colleagues will jump at the chance to be inviolved with Learning Futures.