Monday, 23 November 2009

It was another busy week at the office as we prepared for the visit by our friends from OFSTED. We need to remember that whatever the next two weeks bring the challenges will remain driving up standards, improving outcomes, addressing the needs of targeted individuals and groups of young people, narrowing the gap, and challenging and engaging those not in education, employment and training...

The real questions and challenges are:
  • how do we improve learning outcomes for all our young people?
  • how do we create provision that delivers significantly better learning outcomes for target groups of young people?
  • how do we tackle the common factors that impact on so many of our young people?

Last week was anti-bullying week and enterprise week, and we also had the annual Big STEPS Celebration Event at the Civic Hall before the Standards Meeting with colleagues from National Strategies and Government Office. I attended a briefing session on the OFSTED Inspection of Safeguarding and Looked-after Children as well as contributing to the Safer Leeds Inspection by the National Policing Inspection Authority. We held the National and International Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month Storytelling and 'O Baro Dive' Awards at the Civic Hall with visitors from across the country before I went to this week's Corporate Leadership Team meeting. On Wednesday, I visited the site where we’re building a brilliant new home for Bankside Primary School, travelling from the school to the Fir Tree site where half the school is currently working. On Thursday I had breakfast with new headteacher colleagues before visiting Woodkirk High School Specialist Science College and dropping in on the Anti-bullying Ambassadors Information Day at Leeds Metropolitan University. I ended the day at the wonderful Looked-after Children Celebration at the Civic Hall. On Friday, Children in Need: Do Something Different day, there was a great fundraising effort across Education Leeds, which included everything from cake sales to a special Education Leeds version of the Weakest Link. Over £1200 had been raised by the end of the day so thanks to everyone who made the special effort in what was already a challenging week. I also attended the Annual Leeds Governors' Conference at the Village Hotel before another Staff Induction Session at the Derek Fatchett Centre. And finally I ended the week at the Leeds City Council Awards for Excellence event at the Town Hall.

Everyone expects so much... as we drive and guide the school system in Leeds towards improved performance and better outcomes for every child and every young person we must...

  • Think, reflect, research, analyse and learn;
  • Be visible, accessible and available;
  • Walk the talk and constantly connect with colleagues;
  • Tell stories; celebrate, praise and challenge;
  • Teach, coach and model behaviours you want to see;
  • Get a life... live, love and regularly escape; and
  • Do things to make people feel special.

I am grateful to all those colleagues who put in that little bit extra and went the extra mile last week. We must use this opportunity and the visit by OFSTED to further develop and re-imagine our systems, processes and provision and be brave enough to ask ourselves the difficult questions about why things are currently not working around some of our young people and what we can do to ensure that there is step change in outcomes for all those young people who are hardest to reach, hardest to teach and hardest to engage.

We all know that this climate of higher and higher accountability increases the weight of the expectations facing all of us and as always the stakes are high. The biggest challenge lies in how we develop learning leadership; connect with student learning and student voice, and then mobilise the energy and commitment of all our partners and stakeholders. This challenge involves all of us working together and releasing the potential and the power of our TEAM!

So...whatever you do, do something, and whatever you do be happy, keep healthy and stay safe.

No comments: