What a week! I know that the last few days have been manic. But instead of raging at the world, I took charge, focused, stayed positive and found I have a lot to be thankful for, and a lot we can be proud of, right here in Leeds...
On Monday, we heard that Children's Services in Leeds are being inspected by our friends at Ofsted between 23 November and 4 December, with a focus on safeguarding and looked after children. I attended the Education Guardian 'Innovation In Education Conference', before meeting Dawn Primarolo MP, children's minister, and Vernon Coaker MP, schools minister, at the Houses of Parliament to talk about the challenges we are facing with Children's Services and the National Challenge here in Leeds. During the week, I had meetings with Stephen Parkinson, Jill Wood, Mandy Hodgskinson, Ian Harrison and Parin Bahl, corporate leadership team and the Education Leeds board. I also attended the launch of the Leeds Rugby Foundation 'Connecting Communities' project at Headingley Stadium, which aims to open up opportunities for young people from black and minority ethnic communities to get into sport. On Wednesday, colleagues had organised an 11 Million Takeover Day event where children from Moortown Primary School and Stanningley Primary School visited Merrion House to talk to me about, and help me with, some of the challenges we are facing. On Thursday, I attended the new primary headteachers' conference at Oulton Hall to talk to some great colleagues, before meeting with the school teachers review body who were visiting Leeds as part of their fieldwork. And finally on Friday, I attended the Education Leeds annual school improvement 'Learning Landscapes' conference at Elland Road, and joined Rosemary Archer and colleagues for the set up meeting for the Ofsted inspection of Children's Services.
We all know that we have the most inspected, assessed, moderated and tested education system in the world. They say that the Finnish system has cracked the code, but whilst I have my doubts, they do have some elements which are worth considering. We need to establish a clear sense of what we are trying to achieve for our children, trust our schools and teachers, and then get out of the way. I have been to some incredible learning places recently, and everywhere and wherever colleagues are releasing the magic they are trusted, talented, empowered and effective... brilliant colleagues working in schools and classrooms supported locally by focused and efficient teams releasing the magic and delivering world class outcomes.
We know what it takes to build brilliant... it's alive and well here in Leeds:
- dynamic leadership;
- contagious enthusiasm;
- small and beautiful provision;
- learning relationships;
- passionate people;
- wonderful learning places;
- learning coaches; and
- persistence and determination.
This job we do is too important for any of us to be ordinary, since you tend to get what you expect. We must all strive, each and every day, to be extraordinary, to be outstanding, to be brilliant.
Whatever you do keep the faith, take charge of your attitude... and keep calm and carry on!