Monday, 9 November 2009

When times are challenging, I remind myself what we have achieved together here in Leeds over the last few years, of how we have released a very special magic and achieved some extraordinary outcomes, produced some fantastic materials, developed an amazing 'can do anything' culture and built some brilliant relationships and partnerships. I am also struck by the uniqueness of the place and its special people...

Talking about people and relationships, I bumped into several colleagues this week who were worried about friends and colleagues struggling against the tide of things to do, the bureaucracy, the paperwork and the rules. I personally don't think that we are any different from our children and young people because we all work best when we feel loved, valued, nurtured and understand that we are making a difference. If we live in fear and feel unloved, undervalued and unsupported we are never going to cope with the enormous pressure and stress that we all live with day in day out, and we are never going to release the magic and create brilliant learning for our children and young people. The immense pressure colleagues are under regarding standards and safeguarding alone can be simply overwhelming, and that's not to mention the other issues and challenges we are all juggling with on top of the normal day job. I know that it is at times like this that I need to recharge and re-imagine; to refresh and rethink and be inspired.

It has been another week full of meetings, briefings and updates but amongst those there were four little bits of magic. I attended a launch for Envision, a national education charity set up by young people ten years ago to challenge the stereotype of ‘youth’ as apathetic and disengaged, who support 16-19 year olds from schools and colleges in Greater London and Birmingham and are now coming to Leeds. I visited Whinmoor St Paul's Church of England Primary School, and Whitecotes Primary School, where Sheila Storey and Karen Allen, the headteachers, and their teams are doing some amazing work and achieving wonderful outcomes. And finally, I spoke at the 'RM Kudos '09' Conference at the Four Pillars Hotel at the Cotswold Water Park near Swindon. RM colleagues were simply blown away by what we have achieved together and what we are doing to release the magic and the potential here in Leeds.

So as we roll on towards Christmas, whatever we do and however challenging it is we must maintain our focus on our core business - educating children and providing them with the best possible life chances; and we must support each other through these uncertain times. This years' Annual Lecture with Ken Robinson gives us all a real opportunity to come together as a learning community; to reconnect; to inspire and be inspired, to share what really matters; and to think team. We have a chance to hear an outstanding speaker and to eat, drink and spend some time with other brilliant colleagues who share our passion, our determination and our commitment to children and young people and their learning and to simply remind ourselves why we are here.

I hope that you will be able to make it.

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