Saturday, 16 May 2009

We are challenged all the time to do better, to work harder and to be more effective...

I currently work with the most creative, talented and effective team I have ever worked with. We are making a real difference to young people's lives and achieving better outcomes year on year, and I know that we have the processes, the materials, the passion, the discipline, the intellectual rigour and more importantly the people to deliver real magic and achieve brilliant outcomes.

I started the week at the SEN marketplace at the Civic Hall with the Lord Mayor. This was a wonderful celebration of the work we are doing with children with special educational needs and their families. I attended the secondary headteachers meeting at the David Lloyd Centre to talk to colleagues about the challenges and opportunities we face. I met a group of colleagues from India who were in Leeds experiencing the magic with colleagues from the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and ethnic minority achievement team. I attended the Leeds Further Forward Year 11 College Awards event at the Leeds Town Hall where a huge number of young people's achievements were recognised. I also attended another induction event at the Derek Fatchett CLC with a fantastic group of new colleagues. I managed to visit Ireland Wood Primary School where Ian Blackburn and his team are doing wonderful things at this inclusive and highly successful little primary school. And finally I met with Bob Mandy, our Customer Service Excellence assessor, to talk about the areas where we have seen further improvements this year and areas where we still need to further develop our services and support to our colleagues and to our schools.

I spent the week with hundreds of talented colleagues like Angela Bernard-Ferguson, Til Wright, Wendy Winterburn, Colin Bell, Bernadette Young, Simon Flowers, Rehana Minhas, Claire Lockwood, Denise Trickett, Carolyn Wright, Gary Milner, Andrea Cowans, Ian Blackburn and his team and Jenny Marshall. These special people's commitment, energy, enthusiasm and hard work make this organisation so brilliant, so unique, so innovative and so successful. Of course, I understand how important this all is and it's right that we must be knowledgeable, well informed and intelligently address the issue and challenges that are thrown at us. It's important that we avoid the mistakes of the past, work hard to predict the future and try to avoid making mistakes or getting things wrong. Like you, I am not in any way complacent about the challenges we face here in this wonderfully rich, diverse and incredibly challenging city. Like you, I am constantly looking for the answers and asking myself how much more we can do.

I passionately believe that the real key lies with our leaders and our learning teams and how we convince them that the journey we are on is the right journey and that they are in control and trusted as the talented leaders, coaches, guides, mentors and teachers on the pathways to excellence for each and every one of our young people. But, if anyone thinks that they can do better, I always say, simply roll up your sleeves and come on down.

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