Tuesday, 23 December 2008

It's my last day now until Friday 2nd January so the blog will go quiet for a few days while I unwind, relax, recharge and get ready for yet another brilliant year here in Leeds...

I hope everyone out there manages to do the same. And remember when you are out there... think team, think family, think about the things that really, really matter and hold hands and stick together.
Take care.

Monday, 22 December 2008

I wanted to write at the end of another amazing year to thank colleagues for all your hard work and to encourage you to celebrate our many achievements over Christmas and the New Year. These are not mediocre times and your contribution to the Education Leeds story has been one of passion, commitment, energy, courage and hard work and I am really grateful because the impact has been fantastic.

We have had another incredible year… as well as delivering the last two PFI buildings, we have seen the opening of the first three new BSF buildings at Allerton High School, Pudsey Grangefield School and Rodillian School, with Allerton High School being officially opened by the Prime Minister. We have also had notification from the DCSF that our Primary Capital Programme proposals have been agreed with some minor amendments, which means that we can start work on an ambitious programme of work that will deliver another £100 million capital investment across the city. Our continuing success has been recognised through our nomination for the Carl Bertlesmann Prize, the extension of our Beacon Status for healthy schools, the Leeds Transformational Project celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade which secured £450,000 of lottery funding and the success of our ‘Find Your Talent’ bid, which has secured around £2.5 million of lottery funding.

We launched our emotional health and wellbeing toolkit, and our Investors in Pupils programme has moved to a national roll out. We are continuing to develop our sustainable schools programme and held our first Leeds schools green day. We achieved and exceeded our 2007-08 PE and school sport targets, launched our "Happy Healthy Active Lunchtimes" initiative, and established ‘Spirit Alive’ as our response to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
We were the first authority in the region to gain re-accreditation of our Inclusion Chartermark, and our visually impaired service achieved Quality Mark as well as successfully tendering and winning the contract to develop a visually impaired service for British services abroad. We also developed, organised and successfully delivered the first national Gypsy, Roma and Travellers History month and poster competition and more recently we won two of the national BSF Excellence Awards for the ‘BEST LEP’ and ‘Innovation in ICT’.

The STEPS programme continues to develop with more and more targeted parents and carers benefiting from the programme, and 39 clusters of schools and partners are working towards delivering the core offer of extended services; which has been commended by the DCSF for good progress. We have received recognition from the House of Lords for our work with International New Arrivals as well as recognition from Ofsted through one of their thematic surveys which identified good practice on social responsibility and community cohesion. Our Chinese Supplementary Schools have also been recognised as providers of excellent practice by the House of Lords. Many more of our services have achieved Chartermark and the company was the first to achieve the cabinet office’s Customer Service Excellence standard. We have achieved our best ever GCSE results; fantastic results at 5 A*-C, 5 A*-C including English and mathematics, 5 A*-G and 1A*-G , and our feedback from the Audit Commission survey gave us the best satisfaction rating we have ever had from our schools.

Finally, we held our first ever 'Spirit Awards' at Elland Road on Friday night to recognise the brilliant achievements of our colleagues. Thank you to everyone who attended, well done to everyone who was nominated and to those who made it into the top three, and congratulations to the winners: Ann Lomas, the BSF team, the Operations service, the Health initiatives team, Kaya Barker, Eve McLeish and the VI team, Peter Saunders and Sally Bavage - you really are fantastic, wonderful, brilliant and talented colleagues, and now you have the awards to prove it!

Thanks to everyone for your persistence and determination to make a difference. Our brilliant schools, and our fantastic children and young people, have achieved more than ever thanks to the energy, patience, and commitment of the many talented teams working so hard across the city. Together, here in Leeds, we have made a tremendous difference and we must continue to find, nurture and release the magic. We must continue to celebrate our schools’ successes, and work to create an even better tomorrow for all our children and young people.

I hope that this Christmas brings you and those you love… delight and simplicity, foolishness and fantasy and noise, angels and miracles and wonder and innocence and magic… we have certainly proved this year that you are talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful!
Best wishes