Saturday, 28 February 2009

“How do we lead and create the future while at the same time managing and safeguarding the present.”
'The Fundamental Maintenance/Development Dilemma'

The negatives roll in constantly and we are challenged all the time to do better, work faster and harder and more effectively in our classrooms, in our schools, and in our communities. We have achieved brilliant results over the last few years and I want to put it on record that I currently work with some of the most creative, talented and effective people I have ever worked with. We have relentlessly and rigorously driven up standards and outcomes, improved attendance and reduced exclusions. However we need to do better and each of us needs to look carefully at the way we work with our colleagues, our partners and our stakeholders - conversation by conversation, project by project, meeting by meeting - and work even harder to:

  • cultivate relationships and cultures to create openness, honesty, trust and understanding;

  • build an open-minded culture where change, innovation and ideas and 'our shared agenda' drives a relentless and uncompromising focus on standards, outcomes, attendance and behaviour;

  • create intense debate about ideas, innovation and new models, approaches and ways of working to ensure we continue to tackle the hardest issues and to make real progress;

  • maximise individual talent and organisational strength through networking, sharing ideas and pooling information drawing the strongest partners to work with those facing the greatest challenges;

  • effectively deal with individual egos which can limit performance and prevent innovation and change.

I constantly visit schools here in Leeds where we are releasing the magic and proving that the assumptions people make about underachievement and underperformance are simply nonsense. There are no excuses any more because we know that across the city, and particularly at places like Carr Manor, David Young and John Smeaton, we are making a real difference to young peoples lives and achieving better outcomes year on year. We know that we have the processes, we have the materials, we have the passion, we have the discipline, we have the intellectual rigour and more importantly we have the people to deliver real magic and achieve brilliant outcomes.

Like you, I am not in any way complacent about the challenges we face here in this wonderfully rich, diverse and incredibly challenging city and no-one needs to tel me that it's hard. Like you, I am constantly looking for the answers and asking myself how we can do better and how we can do more. We need to support and nurture talented leaders, coaches, guides, mentors and teachers building provision and developing pathways to excellence for each and every one of our young people. I passionately believe that the real key lies in convincing our leaders and our learning teams that anything is possible and convincing them that the journey we are on is the right journey.


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