Saturday, 10 January 2009

"If I were absolutely certain about all things, I would spend my life in anxious misery, fearful of losing my way. But since everything and anything are always possible, the miraculous is always nearby and wonders shall never, ever cease."
Robert Fulghum

The Safer Schools Partnership started the week training twenty four police officers who will be working in our secondary schools as members of the teaching and learning teams. This is a brilliantly creative initiative which will improve outcomes and target and support some of our most vulnerable young people. I visited Parklands Girls High School to talk to the team about the challenges we are facing and the critical importance of a rigorous and relentless focus on securing good outcomes this year with Year 11. I visited Ebor Gardens Primary School to see Kathryn Depledge and her team at this outstanding little school. I visited Roundhay School to be interviewed on BBC News 24 about the Safer Schools project. I was also interviewed by young people about the work we are doing to tackle bullying as part of the Diana Awards and by Rhia Page, one of our students who is doing a media course, about the work we are doing on inclusion. I visited St Francis Catholic Primary School in Morley where Jane Burns and her team are doing great things. I visited Wetherby High School to met with senior colleagues and governors from the school and from Boston Spa School to talk about the opportunities the two schools have to work more closely together. And finally, I attended the feedback session on the self-evaluation initiative the Artforms music team have taken part in, and was delighted that the outcome was that this is a good service with some outstanding features.

After such a busy week in so many brilliant learning places, what we have to do in terms of leading and managing change in our primary schools, our secondary schools, our behavioural provision and the 14 - 19 stuff and at the same time securing brilliant outcomes for all our children and young people becomes clearer. We have to make our colleagues understand that they have enormous potential; that they can do anything, and that the miracles and the magic are commonplace. I remember Lou Tice telling me that people act as they imagine themselves to be and that changing people's attitude was more important than anything else we did. I also recently re-read a study by Cambridge University which looked at the concept of genius and came to a really interesting set of conclusions... success is about 1% inspiration; about 30 % coaching, teaching and support and about 70% sheer hard work. So, it's true that you can be great at almost anything if you are prepared to put in the work and the only thing that is holding you back is your own perceptions of what you are capable of. What's really sad that so many of us have convinced ourselves that we are not clever, intelligent or talented... which is, of course, an excuse not to work hard at being the talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful human being each and everyone of us could be!

This year we must continue to celebrate every achievement however big or small, and work hard to inspire our colleagues in Education Leeds, our colleagues in schools, our young people and our parents and carers. We must work even harder to release the enormous potential that currently lies dormant in our offices, our schools, and our homes and we must create an environment where this incredible potential can flourish, grow and develop.

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