Saturday, 26 September 2009

What a week: a rollercoaster ride of simply incredible highs and some gut-wrenching lows as we wrestle with the reality of life in the big city and the latest developments from our friends at Oftsted and the DCSF...

The week started with the visit by our colleagues from Helsinki and Stockholm as we launched the Three Cities project. I moved on to have lunch with Vernon Coaker MP, minister of state for schools and learners when he visited Parklands Girls High School and finished the day at a dinner with the guests from Helsinki and Stockholm. On Tuesday I attended John Prescott's 'New Earth Deal' school tour event at Pudsey Grangefield School, before moving on to the corporate leadership team weekly meeting. I finished the day at the civic reception for our international visitors. Wednesday started with 'The Power to Change' conference on developing and promoting community cohesion in our schools before I moved on to the latest Common Purpose 'Meet the People' group at Pudsey Grangefield School. I managed to squeeze in another colleague induction event before attending the latest Higher Level Teaching Assistants celebration evening with another fifty talented and wonderful colleagues from schools across Leeds. And finally, on Thursday evening I attended the Spirit Awards; celebrating our colleagues achievements in a wonderful ceremony at the Civic Hall.

In between I managed to visit Rodillian School where Andy Goulty, headteacher, and his colleagues are building something sustainable and successful. I also popped in to Lawnswood School who have just been visited by our friends from Ofsted and were coming to terms with the harder test Ofsted is applying to all schools from this term; with the increased emphasis on safeguarding and behaviour. Colleagues at the DCSF have also ratcheted up the pressure around the secondary National Challenge schools with Ed Balls, secretary for state for children, schools and families, asking for our plans to be finalised within a month showing how we are going to deal with every school in Leeds below or vulnerable to the 30% A*-C at GCSE including English and maths floor target.

I suppose that is why I love what I do. It's never dull. It's never boring. It's always challenging. It's always real and in your face. And there are always opportunities to really make a difference, even if it is only for one child, one parent, one family, one colleague or one school. The important thing is to remain focused on the basics and our core business and not to get distracted. We must all simply roll up our collective sleeves and work harder and smarter together to get the job done. And in case you've forgotten the job is to ensure that every young person in Leeds is happy, healthy, safe and successful... whatever it takes! People often tell me that Leeds is impossible and that the challenges we face are simply too complicated and too difficult. The trick is to remember that all those little acts of kindness, all those little pieces of magic, all those little things can add up to something extraordinary. Something that will change the world for the better.

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