Wednesday, 8 April 2009

It has been another term where we have once again been checked, inspected, monitored and srutinised to death...

Whatever they throw at us, I still believe that the only possible response is that we should be constantly and relentlessly positive about what we are doing. We have so much to be proud of here in Leeds and our approach to the challenges we are facing must be intelligent, direct and honest. If anyone out there believes they can do it better they should come on down, roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.

After a long hard term, I need a break but before I go here’s how to survive the term ahead...
  • Remember that absolute feedback does not exist
  • Remember that it's their opinion, it's not fact!
  • Remember to keep talking about our successes.
  • Remember to keep learning how to do it better.
  • Remember to constantly support your colleagues.
  • Remember to phone a friend when you need help and support.
  • Remember to focus on the outcomes you are achieving.
  • Remember to stay positive!
The blog is going to go quiet for a while so that I can unwind and get rid of the knots, recharge the batteries and gear myself up for another year in Leeds. Take care and look after yourself while I am gone.
Education Leeds makes a big difference to Martin House...

I receved a wonderful letter from Amanda Carter. Amanda wanted me to know that Martin House would like to thank Education Leeds for all of our help, so far, raising a fantastic £26,000 for the Leeds children’s hospice. Colleagues at Education Leeds have been supporting Martin House children’s hospice with a number of events and campaigns, including Little Thing BIG Difference. We all know that Martin House is the only children’s hospice in Yorkshire and provides a unique and incredibly valuable service to children and young people with terminal illnesss and their families. Martin House relies almost entirely on voluntary donations and needs to raise £3.9 million to run the hospice this year. The hospice need our continual support, so keep up the valuable hard work!!

Monday, 6 April 2009

I finished the day at Leeds United at yet another Playing for Success Celebration...

The Leeds United Learning Centre is doing a brilliant job. The evening celebrated a ten week programme involving young people from eight schools; Farnley Park High School, Mount St Mary's Catholic High School, Castleton Primary School, Cottingley Primary School, Hunslet Carr Primary School, Lower Wortley Primary School and the South SILC at Broomfield. It was a brilliant evening and the Lorimer Suite was packed with young people and their parents, carers and teachers.
My colleague Rehana Minhas, Director for Equality and Entitlement, sent me this...

"Dear Chris, I have just seen the screening of 'Out of Bounds' at Leeds Art Gallery, which is a brilliant and inspirational piece of work put together by 12 young people with disabilities about their aspirations. The work has been supported by Pete Thurlow and his team at South Leeds CLC. The DVD will be circulated shortly and most definitely deserves showing to a wider audience. It is a great learning resource for all. Pete Thurlow and his team will put together reviews and articles for EL Infomag and other communication newsletters. Rehana."

Pete and his colleagues at the South Leeds CLC have done some brilliant work in so many areas and it is wonderful to see that they have supported some of our most special children on this important piece of work.
When I visited Wortley High School recently I heard about another of our young stars...

One of Wortley's young people, Toni Elkington, won the Bupa Educational Achiever’ award at the Prince's Trust 'Celebrate Success Awards Yorkshire and the Humber'. Toni had a troubled relationship with her family and eventually things got so bad she went into care. Shortly after this, her mum passed away and Toni turned to drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis to block out the pain. She hardly ever went to school and when she did she was under the influence of drugs. The Prince's Trsut xl programme has given structure to Toni’s disjointed life. She is fantastic at motivating others, is a great team player and has lots of respect for the rest of the group. It’s had a huge impact on her self-esteem and she’s started to enjoy school and has taken all her GCSEs. Toni was one of just three young people from across the UK selected to compete the 'alfour Beatty Educational Achiever Award' at the Prince's Trust and RBS 'Celebrate Success' event in London on 31 March. Although Toni didn't win the award her's is a fantastic story where another young person's life has been turned around by brilliant provision; this time at Wortley High School supported by the Prince's Trust. Toni is working towards sixth form qualifications in art, design and mentoring and hopes to go to college to study construction.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Another week and another term consigned to history...
I started the week with the primary PE link teachers conference at the Ghandi Hall at Leeds Metropolitan University. I attended the playing for success celebration evening for the Hunslet Hawks Learning Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport, and the celebration evening for the White Rose Learning Centre at the White Rose Shopping Centre. I attended and spoke about the crucial role of safer schools at the prevent launch at Leeds Town Hall. I attended the Leeds School Music Association festival concert at Leeds Town Hall, had breakfast with principals, headteachers and colleagues who make up the specialist inclusion provision group, and had lunch with colleagues from the personnel team. I visited Pudsey Greenside Primary School and St Augustine's Catholic Primary School, attended the official opening of the new school buildings at Bracken Edge Primary School, and went to Colton Primary School to say thank you to Andy Sayers who was retiring as headteacher after nine years at the school and twenty years here in Leeds.

After yet another incredible term where we have achieved so much together, I'll never understand why so many people settle for the mediocre, the achievable without a struggle, or just what is expected. What is it that holds so many people back from achieving brilliant results and achieving great things? After eight great years here in Leeds I've discovered that there is a simple formula for achieving success:

Success = Persistence + Determination + Discipline + Courage + Hard Work.

That’s it, simple as that. It's all about dreaming big, believing in yourself, knowing the obstacles and still going for it. Don’t let other people tell you what's good for you and what you are capable of. Go for what you believe in, and if in the end you don’t succeed, you’ll have the experience to carry you through to the next venture.

Remember that there’s no failure in life when you try, only learning.