Friday, 16 January 2009

There was a whole page advert in the Times Educational Supplement today advertising opportunities with the National College for School Leadership...

They are looking for outstanding school leaders and their schools to become 'National Leaders of Education'. This is a brilliant opportunity for our truly outstanding schools to take up this leadership role and share their expertise more widely. You can get further information and an application pack at their website at

They are also looking for experienced headteachers and Children's Centre Leaders to become 'Leadership Network Regional Leaders'. Again, if you have a brilliant deputy and are leading a great school, this is an opportunity to develop your leadership skills on a regional stage. You can get further information and an application pack at their website at

What have you got to lose?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Leadership Forum are attending a two day coaching skills programme at the new Village Hotel at Tingley...

We want to further develop a 'coaching for excellence' culture across Education Leeds which will drive awareness and responsibility and build accountability and ownership. I'll let you know how it goes!


The official secondary performance tables were published today...

Cllr Andrew Carter and Cllr Richard Brett today congratulated Leeds schools for achieving another year of record GCSE results.
The percentage of our young people gaining 5 or more good grades at GCSE including English and maths has outstripped the national rate of improvement increasing by over 4 percentage points over last year from 42.4% to 46.4% and closing the gap with the national figure of 47.6%. The figures also reveal that 62.4% of Leeds students achieved 5 or more good GCSE passes in 2008, an increase of over 5 percentage points over last year and closing the gap with the national figure of 65.3%. I am delighted that results in the city are rising year on year with dramatic improvements in central areas, and overall our results have improved by over 50% since 2001. Many more of our young people are now achieving brilliant results due to the learning opportunities available to them in some truly amazing schools. Much of this improvement is due to the hard work of the young people themselves, the dedication of their teachers and the support of parents and carers, but our targeted and focused investment in governance, leadership, coaching, teaching and learning and world class learning environments has also had a major impact on raising educational standards across the city.

We all know that there is much more work to do but everyone in the education team here in Leeds should be deeply proud of these fantastic results. However, we must never be complacent and we must continue our relentless focus on achieving further improvements and ensuring that every young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes.

I received this message today from Rosemary Archer, Director of Children's Services and I wanted to share it with colleagues...

"Chris , I know we have spoken about the GCSE results before but I want to put on record on this day when the results are formally published my appreciation of the work done by Education Leeds to enable such brilliant results in the City. I know it is the young people who have worked so hard and all the teachers who have supported them that make the absolute difference on the day of the exam but without all that you and the staff of Education Leeds have done over these past years I am sure we would not be as successful, so widely across the City as we are now. It is a fabulous result and I am truly appreciative. Rosemary."

It is great to receive messages like this and I would also want to thank everyone who makes up the brilliant education and learning team across Leeds; colleagues in schools and in Education Leeds for another set of brilliant results for our most valuable resource; our children and young people.


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

I visited another brilliant little primary school today...

I went to Armley Primary School where Kath Andrews and her team are doing wonderful things for their children, their families and the community and they also achieve really good standards! From breakfast club to after school activities, from Wake Up and Shake Up to healthy lunches, from football and netball teams to the Northern Ballet's Nutcracker this is a school with a mission. I was taken round the school by two of the Year 6 children who were fantastic. We also had lunch together with a small group of Year 6 children and talked about what it was that made Armley Primary School such a great little school... surprise, surprise it was Kath and her team!

I had coffee with Kath and some of her team before I left them all to Wake Up and Shake Up after lunch and I am really looking forward to seeing the team photos.
My colleague Jenny Marshall, Performance Management Officer in our Performance Management and Information team sent me some great news...

"Good morning Chris, I though you would like to see this which will be published today on the Cabinet Office website. It is great that our persistent absence research has been identified as good practice in reaching customer groups. It also good to know we have been identified as pioneers in our aim to provide the best possible service for our customers. Jenny"

This is the case study from 'CUSTOMER MATTERS:News and Insight from the Front Line, a Cabinet Office publication...
"Education Leeds is a non profit company owned by Leeds CityCouncil. Leeds is in the bottom quartile of local authorities in termsof persistent absence from secondary schools and like many other organisations it has struggled to gain meaningful insight into hard to reach groups on specific issues which affect their lives. To find out more about the issues for children and young people and their parents/carers regarding persistent absence and what could be effective in reducing this absence, Education Leeds consulted a wide range of professionals through interviews and questionnaires and listened to children, young people, parents and carers through focus groups and semi-structured interviews. Interviews were also undertaken with key partner agencies in order to help identify their potential contribution towards reducing persistent absence and with a view to developing a more multi-agency approach to tackling this issue. Visits to other local authorities were undertaken in order to identify good practice. A key finding from the research was that both parents/carers and young people did not see the relevance of learning and achieving. As a result, Education Leeds is now looking at different ways of ensuring that learning is relevant and engaging for students who may not currently respond well to existing teaching methods. The research also highlighted the need for additional input for young carers, including extra support and practical measures such as allowing access to a phone while at school. This research has raised the profile of persistent absence and its relationship to other complex issues affecting children and their families with other Childrens’ Services colleagues, leading to a better multi agency approach where persistent absence is seen as a symptom of
other problems."

It is great to see this work recognised and celebrated by colleagues at the Cabinet Office.
Anne Lomas, Team Leader for our Education Leeds Visually Impaired Team sent me this e-mail and this great photo...

"Dear Chris, I thought you would like to see these stunning pictures of our children at the Leeds Climbing Wall last night, the latest in the social evenings for the award winning 'No Limits'. The young people were a credit to themselves and their families last night; everyone there was very impressed with them, particularly the two instructors who worked with the groups for the evening. We are hosting a celebration evening for No Limits on July 14th, possibly at the Town or Civic Hall, and are working on some awards to celebrate and promote individual and team achievements. You will be receiving an invitation, but perhaps you might like to put this date in your diary. With best wishes, Anne"

It was great to hear about the work my colleagues are doing with this wonderful group of young people.


I was really pleased to see that Headteachers' Update has gone electronic...

Headteachers’ Update and Governors’ Update have now changed from their original paper-based format to electronic publications. Headteachers’ Update will be published to InfoBase Schools every two weeks during term-time. Governors’ Update will be published every four weeks. The first edition of the new electronic Update will be published on Thursday 15 January 2009 on InfoBase, InfoBase Schools, and also included in the Education Leeds ‘virtual envopac’. You can continue to view or download your copies of Headteachers’ and Governors’ Updates anytime by visiting InfoBase Schools, and use quickcode D1656 to access your copy.

Helen Ford and colleagues have done a great job and the first edition is really good.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

I spent the whole of yesterday and today in meetings and those of you who know me well know that I don't like meetings...

Someone told me that on an average day in the UK, there are around 5 million meetings. I don't know how they worked that out, but if it is true it makes you wonder how anything ever gets done andit is no surprise that the country is in a mess!! Colleagues often remind me that meetings are important and often essential elements of our work so the real question is how are we going to improve the productivity of our meetings and ensure that eevry meting is focused on getting things done.

We must constantly look at what was accomplished in our meetings and ask ourselves if it was worth it? I know that the answer is sometimes "yes" but if as I suspect a lot of the time the answer is "no" what are we going to do about it. Answers on a postcard...