Friday, 3 April 2009

I moved on to Bracken Edge Primary School for the official opening of their new and wonderful building by Fabian Hamilton MP...

It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate what has been achieved with the buildings over the last few years. The school has been transformed since I came to Leeds in 2001. The school has over forty languages and on this glorious sunny day outside the childrens faces showed just how lucky we are to work here in this richly diverse and exciting multi-cultural city. I was shown around the school by two of the children who were fantastic ambassadors for the school and we practiced our WOW words as we went round. The buildings are simply magic and just what the children and the staff team deserve!
I moved on to Colton Primary School to say thank you and give some flowers to Andy Syers, headteacher, who was retiring after nine great years at the school...

Andy is one of those talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues who over the last twenty years here in Leeds has made an enormous difference. She has developed this wonderful little primary school to release a very special magic. She has built a great team, the building has been transformed and the results last year were fantastic. She is leaving a really wonderful legacy at Colton Primary School.
I started the day early at the East SILC at the John Jamieson site...

I was there for a meeting with the Specialist Inclusion Provision Group where we talked about the journey provision for children with special educational needs has made over the last few years. The SILCs are increasingly doing brilliant work in terms of providing an outstanding specialist offer, supporting partnership provision in resource and partnership schools and providing outreach training and support. We need to continue to look at the gaps in provision and ensure thqt provision is more consistent across the city. We need to look the behavioural continuum and work to fill the gaps in terms of rapid respite response and provision for children exhibiting the most complex mental, emotional and behavioural problems.

It is great to work with these colleagues who are making such a difference for our most special children. As always there is more to do.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

I finished the day at the Leeds Schools Music Association Festival Concert at the Town Hall...

We were there with over 350 young people from 42 primary schools who played and sang for a full house of parents, carers and colleagues from schools. We were also treated to a wonderful performance on the Gamelan by children from the East SILC at John Jamieson.

It was a great evening, to end a great term.
I had lunch with brilliant colleagues from the HR team...

It was great to be able to talk to them about the transformation HR services have been through over the last eight years. The traded services feedback from our schools now says that the service is good which is brilliant since the team deal with some of the hardest issues we face around workforce development and management. The team also talked about the challenges we all face in the future with the need to develop a menu of more personalised services for schools to use to suit their circumstances.
A colleague sent me this quote today...

"These are all our children.
We will profit by, or pay for, whatever they become".
James Baldwin

That is so true.
My colleague Gary Milner sent me some great news...

"Dear Chris, this morning we received good news about the results of the Diploma Gateway 3 process. We have secured approval to start delivering four new Diplomas from 2010 and one for 2011. Nationally 58% of applications gained approval for 2010 and 42% for 2011, so we have done much better than most local authorities. We now have approval for 13 Diplomas and the overall picture is:
Delivering started Sept 2008:

  • Creative & Media
  • Construction & Built Environment

Delivery starting in Sept 2009:

  • Business Admin & Finance
  • Engineering
  • Environmental & Land- based Studies
  • Hair & Beauty Studies
  • Information Technology
  • Society, Health & Development

Delivery starting Sept 2010:

  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing & Product Design
  • Public Services
  • Travel & Tourism

Delivery starting in 2011:

  • Sport & Active Leisure

If recruitment goes as well as this year (we recruited 96% of our target learner number against a national average of 25%) we should have around 800 learners studying Diplomas by this September. A big thanks to all those involved with what was a very comprehensive and robust application process. Best Wishes, Gary."

This is fantastic news for Leeds and clearly shows that our relationships and partnerships with schools, colleges and businesses are focused on delivering brilliant outcomes for young people in Leeds through these Diploma programmes. Well done to Gary and his team who are really making this happen here in Leeds.


I started the day early at St Augustine's Catholic Primary School...

After talking to Michael Teggart, the headteacher, I was shown around the school by Melissa, Darryl and Bailey, three year 6 students. They were brilliant ambassadors and adverts for this great little school. The DCSF published the Key Stage 2 performance tables yesterday and the school has just received it's contextual value-added ratings and everything is green and the progress children are making is clear for everyone to see if you are prepared to look.
Walking around the school was wonderful; everywhere was calm, focused and purposeful, the learning environment was great and the children were bright, polite and terrific. This is a great school where Michael and his talented team are releasing a very special magic with some wonderful young people.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

I finished the day at the White Rose Centre for their Learning Centre celebration...

The Upper Circle at the White Rose Centre was packed with young people and their parents, carers and teachers who were there to celebrate the achievements of some incredible young people. It was a fantastic evening celebrating children from Hunslet Moor, Hill Top and Fountain Primary Schools and Morley and Woodkirk High Schools. We were also treated to a dance routine produced, choreographed and performed by young people from Woodkirk High School

My fantastic colleague Rachael Holdgate, Study Support Manager at the White Rose Centre, the learning mentors and everyone else involved with this wonderful learning centre are making a real difference for young people in this part of Leeds.
"If I were absolutely certain about all things, I would spend my life in anxious misery, fearful of losing my way. But since everything and anything are aways possible, the miraculous is always nearby and wonders shall never, ever cease."
Robert Fulghum

After a day like today it is important to know that miracles can happen and will happen. Keep the faith.
I started the day early at Pudsey Greenside Primary School...

I had been asked to go by Janet Howard who has achieved great things over the last five years at this little primary school.


ArtForms, Education Leeds in partnership with Leeds City Council and Find Your Talent Leeds present...

Thursday 30th April, 10.30am - 4.45pm
The West Park Centre,
The STORE will give you the unique opportunity to meet a wide variety of artists and cultural
organisations under one roof. You will be able to talk to them about your individual requirements, see performances and join in taster workshops and seminars. Come along to this inspiring event and discover how the arts and culture can make a powerful difference to the lives of children and young people in Leeds. For further information, contact: Clare Biggs, Head of Arts Development or Sarah Westaway, Arts Manager.

If you are passionate about bringing the arts to children and young people, don't miss it.


I have been in Leeds for nearly eight great years and today, 1st April 2009, Education Leeds is eight years old...

They say time flies when you are having fun and it has been great fun thanks to you; the brilliant, talented, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues who have made me laugh, made me smile, made me cry and enriched, energised and brightened my life over these eight great years. At it’s brilliant best our schools, our educational provision and our support services here in Leeds are breathtakingly wonderful, making an incredible difference and releasing real magic in so many ways.


Tuesday, 31 March 2009

I spent the rest of the day with my colleagues from the Council's Corporate Leadership Team at an Independent Living Project in Scott Hall Grove...

This is a brilliant initiative delivering high quality, sustainable accommodation and support services for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs. The CLT session was looking at strategy, priorities and capacity and I talked about the processes we are exploring:
  • a 21st Century schools world class universal offer for all our children and young people;
  • early intervention and prevention;
  • targeted provision around vulnerable and challenging individuals;
  • developing young people's ownership, voice and choice in the system.
Our priorities identified through a process of monitoring, audit and intelligence are:
  • leadership and governance;
  • attendance;
  • behaviour provision;
  • 14 - 19 provision;
  • target schools;
  • target groups of young people.
The other areas we need to look at are:
  • Capital investment through the Building Schools for the Future and Primary Capital Programmes and the impact of population growth across Leeds;
  • Workforce development, efficiency and value for money;
  • Safeguarding and the integration of services around vulnerable groups;
  • Health and well-being programmes;
  • Environment and sustainability programmes;
  • Managing the recession, preparing for the upturn and developing the skills and intelligence needed to drive success in the new economy.
It was encouraging that other colleagues identified almost the same issues which we are going to work on together over the next eighteen months.
I started the day at the 'Prevent Launch Event' at Leeds Town Hall where I was talking about where the 'Prevent' agenda fitted into our work on safeguarding and safer schools...

It was encouraging that twenty schools managed to make the launch of this vitally important initiative alongside colleagues from West Yorkshire Police, some of the Leeds colleges and colleagues from Neighbourhoods and Housing, Education Leeds and Children's Services. The event was opened by Cllr Andrew Carter, Leader of the Council, which reflected the importance of the event. We heard a personal story from Zaf Shah, a former Great Britain Tae Kwon Do champion and Commonwealth athlete. Zaf is Director of Clinical Management Solutions Ltd and a specialist in Muslim affairs and his session was both challenging and interesting. My colleague Andrew Hobbs, who is currently on secondment to the Government Office, talked about the DCSF Toolkit 'Learning Together to be Safe' which provides schools and colleges with guidance on preventing violent extremism. Detective Inspector Graham Archer from the Counter Terrorism Unit took everyone through 'ACT NOW' a resource for schools. The session was closed by Chief Superintendent Mark Milson who stressed that this is an area where no one is the expert and where we can tackle the issues by working together to deliver brilliant universal provision alongside targeted work around protecting our most vulnerable young people.

It was an interesting and stimulating morning for everyone involved and I am only sorry that more schools weren't able to be there.

Monday, 30 March 2009

And finally, I attended the Hunslet Hawks Learning Centre 'Playing for Success Celebration Evening' at the John Charles Centre for Sport...

It was a fantastic evening celebrating children from Beeston St Anthony's, Hunslet St Phillip's, Hunslet St Mary's, Hunslet Moor, Hugh Gaitskell and Thorpe Primary Schools and Cockburn College of Arts, Royd's School, South Leeds High School and Morley High School.

The Parkside Suite was packed with young people and their parents, carers and teachers. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds, Harry the Hawk and three of the Hunslet Hawks rugby team were there to celebrate the achievements of some incredible young people.

Everyone involved with this wonderful centre is making a real difference in this very special piece of Leeds.
I spent lunchtime with headteacher colleagues from the Outer North West...

It was great to be able to talk about the brilliant schools in the North West. The partnership working that has been established over the last few years has developed more extensive post-16 pathways and provision. The work on post -14 pathways is also developing alongside the extended-services offer. We also agreed that we need to look together at the potential of any Building Schools for the Future funding to build or remodel our brilliant learning places and continue to drive up standards and outcomes in this very special bit of Leeds.
I started the day at the Primary Link Teachers (PE) Conference at the Ghandi Hall at Leeds Metropolitan University...

The Department of Health's 'Health Profile of England 2008' provides a snapshot of health and well-being and contains loads of good news:
  • the proportion of schoolchildren drinking has fallen;
  • the proportion of schoolchildren smoking has fallen;
  • the proportion of schoolchildren using drugs has fallen;
  • the proportion of schoolchildren engaging in physical activity has risen;
  • the proportion of schoolchildren eating five portions of fruit and vegetable everyday has risen.
  • child and adult obesity has increased alarmingly;
  • cases of diabetes have increased alarmingly.
And the bad news is that the picture is different across the country with Yorkshire and the Humber lying towards the bottom of many of the indicators.
Clearly, the message seems to be that we should all focus our energy and efforts on addressing the following issues;
  • encouraging healthy lifestyles;
  • tackling obesity through better diet and increased activity.
My colleague Helen Plimmer, Adviser for PE, had invited me to talk to the PrimAry Link Teachers about the success we have had with the PE and School Sport Strategy. Over 90% of our children and young people are doing the two hours a week of PE and School Sport. Our challenge now is to build on our success and ensure that every child engages in five hours of PE and School Sport every week including those who are not that interested.

My colleague Max Amesbury talked to the group about the 'Spirit Alive' project he has been managing for us. The initiative started with four schools in 2007, involved 30 schools in 2008 and we hope will involve at least 100 schools this year. Our aim is for every school in Leeds to be involved in organising their own mini-olympic games in 2012.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently published guidance on Promoting Physical Activity for Children and Young People. The recommendations are that children and young people should undertake a range of moderate to vigorous-intensity activities for at least 60 minutes every day with at least two sessions a week of activities that improve bone health, muscle strength and flexibility. This amount of physical activity can be achieved in a number of short, ten-minute 'Wake-Up and Shake Up' style sessions.

This is such an important aspect of our work here in Leeds and I hope that today has provided colleagues with a pool of great ideas to help us achieve this ambitious target for our children and young people.
I was sent details of the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship...

Travel to make a difference in 2010
The areas covered by these fellowship grants are:
1. Adventure, Exploration & Leaders of Expeditions
2. Business & Finance
3. Education & Vocational Training
4. Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
5. Support for Children
Including the involvement of local authorities and the
voluntary sector, parenting and early intervention issues,
and alternatives to custody for young offenders.
6. Science, Engineering & Enterprise
7. The Arts & Older People
Those involved in, and providing opportunities for, older
people in all aspects of music, dance, drama, and fine arts.
8. The Churchill Connection
Open for anyone with a project related to Sir Winston’s
varied interests, including politics, history, world affairs,
writing, journalism, painting and bricklaying.
9. Treatment & Rehabilitation of Chronic Conditions
Applications are invited from all related interests.
10. Young People
Those aged 18–25 with a worthwhile project to benefit the UK community,
and their personal development.

Application schedule and important information for applicants

Closing date for all completed application forms is 6 October 2009
The Trust does not expect applicants to have planned their projects in detail at the time of application. However, the aim and outline of the project, and the benefits to the community and the UK must be clear.

All applicants will be informed by this date whether or not they have been short listed for interview by 23 November 2009 Short listed applicants will be invited to elaborate on their original plan and references will be taken.

The short listed applicants will be interviewed in January 2010

Fellowship Awards will be announced in February 2010

Fellows start their travels from April 2010 onwards which should be completed by April 2011.

Financial Support
Successful applicants will receive a grant to cover all relevant Fellowship expenses. This includes return travel, daily living and travel within the countries being visited. In 2009, the Trust awarded grants in excess of £500,000, averaging £5,500. Grants usually cover a stay overseas of between 4–8 weeks (minimum of 4 weeks) but can be longer, and you will also be appropriately insured.

Is anyone out there up for it!
My colleague Pete Thurlow sent me this article from the Yorkshire Evening Post, Beeston section on Saturday....

"IT WAS a heartwarming ceremony which helped secure a bright future for Leeds's famous cosmopolitan culture. And the event, at South Leeds Learning Centre, Beeston, marked the determination of 42 children to embrace the language and way of life in their adopted city.All the young people have made great strides in their efforts to speak, read, write and understand English since arriving from their native nations.They are taking part in the English as an Additional Language scheme, the Education Leeds course which offers new arrivals a helping hand to find their feet in a foreign land.As the number of countries from which immigrants travel to Britain has grown, so has the debate over the need for people settling here to learn English.To congratulate the pupils, tutors laid on yesterday's special presentation morning, at which the youngsters were handed a certificate and then given the keys to the games consoles.They queued up to play a Nintendo Wii on a huge, cinema-style screen, while others belted out Hannah Montana and High School Musical favourites on a hi-tech karaoke machine.

Kerry Platts, a study support mentor, said: "This is about thanking them for their hard work and marking their achievements."They are all at different stages of learning, but all have been really committed."Some had very little English when they arrived, and they are from many different countries, but you only have to listen to the chatter to hear how well they're doing." Despite the young friends being from nations as far apart as France and Malaysia, with many more in between, the chatter was all in English. Some had even picked up the beginnings of what will blossom into a broad south Leeds accent.

Lisa Koranteng, of Ingram Road Primary School, in Holbeck, said she wanted to use her English to become a pop star.The eight-year-old said: "It helped me make friends. Now I want to sing like Hannah Montana." Chris Walton, Lisa's deputy headteacher, said: "Four children come from our school, it is great for their reading skills and confidence. It is an excellent programme."

This is yet another brilliant initiative and the impact is just incredible. Thanks to everyone involved.