Sunday, 6 December 2009

This last week has once again been non stop and whatever the next couple of weeks bring we need to continue to stick to the basics. We must continue to nurture and support our colleagues to ensure that they continue to deliver for our children and young people, their families and communities. To build world class provision here in Leeds, every one of them needs to feel supported, trusted, valued and cared for, particularly those facing the greatest challenges and working in the most deprived communities...

This has been the second and, thankfully, the final week of the OFSTED inspection of safeguarding and looked-after children's services in Leeds and Dirk Gilleard, Ros Vahey and I met with the colleague leading on standards for the team. I also met with colleagues from the Health and Safety Executive to talk about how we ensure that headteachers are trained and supported to oversee construction work on their school sites following an accident earlier this year. I also attended Corporate Leadership Team, Education Leeds Board and Headteacher Forum.

I managed to squeeze in another staff induction session as well as attending the official opening of the brilliant new hall and classrooms at Carlton Primary School. I popped in to the 'Talking Heads' event celebrating the International Day of Disabled People at Kirkstall Abbey's visitor centre before attending the very moving and inspiring Memorial Celebration for Bill Pullen at Farnley Park High School. And finally I attended and talked at the event to publicise the research into 'Progression to Post-16 and Higher Education in Inner South Leeds' at Hillside in Beeston before attending the feedback session by the OFSTED team.

I attended a brilliant session a couple of weeks ago where an Australian academic talked about the fact that inspection reports are only valid if, faced with the evidence and applying intelligent analysis to the context and the reality on the ground, we would all come to the same conclusions and would all recognise the picture painted of practice, provision and outcomes. These are dangerous times for those of us who work in and with the most challenging and deprived communities; with children and families living in poverty; with the challenges around worklessness, ill-health, migration, anti-social behaviour and disengagement from learning. To achieve transformational outcomes and to release the magic we need to be brave not frightened; fearless not timid; confident not confused. We all understand that we need to do things differently to reach the marginalised and the hard to reach and to do this we need colleagues in schools facing the greatest challenges to feel challenged but also, more importantly, to feel trusted, empowered and supported.

We must never be complacent about the challenges we face and what we still have to do to ensure that every child is happy, healthy, safe and successful. But as we move into the run up to Christmas we must all remember and celebrate the quite extra-ordinary things we are doing here in schools across Leeds. We are doing a brilliant job... and don't believe anyone who says anything different!

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