Monday, 2 February 2009

It has been a very busy week with the usual round of meetings supplemented by an interview with Look North about the challenge of improving attendance at two of our secondary schools and a session looking at the future with our Chair, Professor Stephen Parkinson. It was Holocaust Memorial Day during the week and looking at what is happening around the world reminds us all that we need to be constantly vigilant and remember in our search for excellence that we must never forget that love, respect, tolerance and understanding are even more important than SATs or GCSEs.

I visited St Mary's Catholic High School to talk about post 16 provision and future developments. I visited Royd's School to meet Terry Sweeney, RM's Chief Executive, and a group of secondary headteacher colleagues to talk about infrastructure, capacity and partnership. I met colleagues from the LSC to talk about Post-16 SEN funding and I met Neil Straker and Marion Wood from The Pacific Institute to talk about their exciting new PX2 materials. I also had lunch with our wonderful 14 - 19 Team and coffee with Geoff Roberts who chairs the West SILC.

To keep me sane, I visited Birchfield and Gildersome Primary Schools before I went to London to collect our Best Companies 'One to Watch" award. I also attended the official launch of the fantastic new Hunslet Hawks Learning Centre, attended the open day for 'Volunteer Reading Help''s new offices and finally made the STEPS Celebration at Armley Children's Centre with another amazing group of mums.

Our schools are constantly improving and much of what we do is now good and outstanding but everyone expects so much more. We face relentless pressure and higher and higher expectations, along with increased and increasing demands to drive and guide provision in Leeds towards improved performance and better outcomes for every child and very young person. The biggest challenge lies in how we engage the energy and commitment of young people, parents and carers, partners and stakeholders... success, however we define it, lies in the power of TEAM and how we bring our collective energies and efforts to bear on the task of building brilliant for all our students... brilliant values, brilliant attitudes, brilliant attendance, brilliant learning and brilliant outcomes?

We know that we must do more; particularly where the challenges are greatest. We must continue to re-imagine and re-engineer our systems, our processes and our provision and be brave enough to ask ourselves the difficult questions about why things are currently not working and what we can do to ensure that there is step change in outcomes for all young people here in Leeds... whatever it takes!

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