Friday, 24 April 2009

Just in case you haven't noticed...

I have added an additional feature on the blog so that you don't have to put a comment on the blog for me to know that you are reading my posts. You simply click on one of the three reactions boxes: funny, interesting or cool! I hope it helps you stay in touch!
I spent the day with colleagues in the Leadership Team at Weetwood Hall...

We were looking at our feedback from the 'Best Companies' where we were recognised as 'One to Watch'! We also looked at the latest version of the Education Leeds Strategic Plan and had a session looking at the transformational learning places we are have been building through the Primary and Secondary programmes. It was a great day with a wonderful group of colleagues.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

My colleague Wesley Wu who works with the supplementary schools here in Leeds sent me some more good news...

"Dear Chris, I am very pleased to inform you that five supplementary schools have achieved the National Quality Framework Award for Supplementary Schools. These schools are as follows:
  • GNNSJ Punjabi School
  • Hamara Supplementary School
  • Leeds Chinese School
  • Shantona Women's Centre
  • Leeds Chinese Community School

Also four more supplementary schools have signed the National Code of Practice for Supplementary Schools and are to work towards the award. They are as follows:

  • ACIAMAJ Complementary Educational Project
  • Chapeltown and Harehills Educational Study Support
  • Nigerian Community Leeds
  • Mount Zion Church Young Generation Group

I shall update you on the progress of each of these four schools in due course. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to know any more details. Regards, Wesley."

It is great to see the work Wesley has been doing with the supplementary schools here in Leeds and to see so many working towards and achieving the National Quality Award.


I received some more brilliant news today from colleagues at the British Council for School Environments...

"Dear Colleague. We are delighted to announce the shortlisted entries for the BCSE Industry Awards 2009, the highlight of this year’s National School Environments Week. This year the quality of submissions was extremely high with 170 entries across the 13 categories. The judges have chosen 20 projects, individuals and teams as winners across the categories, which will be announced at the BCSE Industry Awards Dinner in June. In particular the ‘Inspiring Design for Schools’ category delivered a range of fantastic projects and 6 awards will be made to recognise the very best examples of school design in the UK. Your representative in this category is Pudsey Grangefield School, Leeds – Mentor & Leeds BSF. The BCSE Industry Awards Dinner will be held on 24th June at The Emirates Stadium in London. Hosted by Wayne Hemmingway, one of Britain’s most acclaimed designers, the evening will bring together 500 professionals to celebrate great schools and excellence in the school design and construction industry. Best wishes, Ian Fordham, Deputy CEO."

It is fantastic to see Pudsey Grange field nominated and we all hope that it will win one of the six awards. Watch this space!
I started the day early with the West Family of Schools at Intake High School...

This was a great group of colleagues and it would be very interesting to add up the years of experience in the room and to build on the understanding of and insights into the real issues we are facing. We talked about the characteristics of brilliant provision and how schools could maintain their focus with too many intiatives, too many pots of money to chase, too many consultants and experts and too much constant change. We talked about the importance of confident, self-critical and reflective practitioners who understood the learning process and were working positively with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to build healthier and more sustainable communities. We talked about confident, passionate and dynamic leaders who had a clear view of what was needed to drive change and achieve that step change in outcomes we all want to see. outcomes not simply measured in terms of Level 4 at Key Stage 2 or 5 A*-C Grades at GCSE . We talked about aspiration and attainment and how we rebuild hope in communities. We need to do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more. We talked about the challenges that lie ahead with public sector budget cuts and the need to work more creatively and more collaboratively and to stop the merry go round of meetings, bureaucracy and things that made no difference to children and families and focus on those we know do.

It's great to talk.


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

I visited Ebor Gardens Primary School this morning with Rosemary Archer...

We were there to see Susannah Todd, Deputy Director for Children's Centres and Extended Services at the DCSF who was visiting Leeds to look at some of the brilliant work we are doing. Susannah visited Ebor Gardens Primary School where Kathryn Depledge and her colleagues are doing outstanding things and achieving brilliant outcomes. She also visited Brigshaw High School where Cath Lennon and her team are releasing the magic.

It was great to be able to share some of the best of Leeds with Susannah. Our challenge is how we ensure that we connect all the brilliant initiatives consistently in every locality to secure better outcomes for all our young people.
My colleague Jane Haswell from our brilliant Families and Schools Together Team sent me this after my comments about allotments and gardens in schools...

"Hi Chris, in response to your interesting times blog, I too think it would be a wonderful idea to have an allotment or small garden in every school - it offers such a rich learning experience. Where community members are invited to join in, then it creates a fantastic opportunity for dads and grandads to become involved with school - and we know children could really benefit from this! If produce can be sold within the community then learning is further enhanced. I proposed a plan for a garden project for two merging high schools when they were at the stage of planning the move to a new building, it seemed a great way to promote community cohesion - unfortunately the proposal was not taken up. If any school would like help to set up an adult group and support for that group with some basic training to prepare the adults to work with children then please ask them to contact the FAST Team. It can be an offshoot of the INVEST programme, I have the name already - Greenshoot INVEST. Best wishes, Jane."

If anyone is interested contact Jane.


My colleague Michelle Wilman, Principal at the West SILC (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre) sent me this bit of brilliant news...

"Dear Chris, I am delighted to share our news: TES Schools Awards Shortlist Outstanding Special Needs Initiative of the Year. We are one of 5 schools short listed for this category - we will find out on June 9th if we win!
The Project: a focus on individualised learning pathways for children with the most complex and multiple learning needs has helped to develop improved interactions and functional skills previously not believed possible. A social inclusion model where children interact with their mainstream peers has developed a circle of friends for every child.

It is fantastic recognition not just of the hard work of Sarah and her team at the West SILC / Hollybush partnership, but also all the members of the complex and multiple learning needs team from all the SILCs. Michelle."

We are fortunate in Leeds to have colleagues like Michelle, Sarah and the team releasing their very special magic with some of our most vulnerable and special children.
Wouldn't it be great if every school in Leeds had an allotment or garden...

We need to think seriously about developing sustainable schools where we look at recycling, energy, waste, water, food and drink, allotments, gardens and all things green.We need to be developing an army of little 'green' ambassadors supported by community groups to lead the way. This might also be a way to help some of those who are looking for work to get involved in something worthwhile through volunteering, apprenticeships or internships. Any ideas or volunteers?

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I started the day early with breakfast before joining the Leeds Skills Board at the Headingley Stadium...

We all need to think about how we can help our young people who are struggling with finding work through further developing volunteering, diplomas, internships and apprenticeships in our schools and Children's Centres. There is a huge pool of talent out there and we need to find ways to use it during these difficult times.

Monday, 20 April 2009

The thing that really hits you when you read Nelson Mandela or Barack Obama is that values are the key to real success...

If we want to be effective as team leaders, manager or colleagues we need to work hard to build common values among the people we work with. We know that a colleague's environment, their school,college and university, their community groups, sports club and their church as well as their life experiences shape their values and their behaviours. In organizations, like Education Leeds, with a strong culture, the values of the organization can have a greater influence on colleagues' values than the team they belong to. However, anyone who has moved job and team within Education Leeds knows that the values within different teams also differs. We all know from our own experience that managers, team leaders and colleagues can have a significant impact on our values.

Statements of our shared values should shine through our web site and appear boldly in our annual report and all our various publications. We must all devote time to formal induction programs for new colleagues where we can share our values. We must coach, mentor and support each other and wherever we can use the physical workspace to communicate our values. We must all carefully review what gets rewarded, because what is rewarded will be valued. We also need to examine the influence of praise and recognition. When you've clarified what you value, then determine how you can acknowledge and celebrate every action that is consistent with those values. Have you posted a note on a bulletin board, sent out a congratulatory note, letter or e-mail, or included a notice in one of our many newsletters?

We must all spend some time thinking about our values and how our actions are compatible or incompatible with our values. By clarifying and consistently applying our values, we will do a better job managing our time, and we will have greater integrity and credibility as team leaders, managers and colleagues.


I need some help here, especially if OFSTED have visited you recently...

How do we survive the constant challenges we face, the incessant criticism, the negative, corrosive and destructive impact of inspection, monitoring, weighing, checking and measuring everything we do. We need to:
  • stay positive at all times;
  • lead by example;
  • be totally confident and know your school well;
  • explain the journey you are on;
  • talk about the trajectory you are on;
  • focus on the progress you are making;
  • talk up your successes;
  • explain the challenges;
  • focus on your children;
  • focus on data and facts.
What are your ten tips for surviving an OFSTED inspection?
Another start to yet another term and it's as if I've never been away...

I spent most of today working through 388 e-mails to get back up to speed and re-connect with the things that matter! E-mails from MPs, councillors, parents, headteachers, governors, colleagues and ex-colleagues. E-mails from DCSF, OFSTED, ADCS, NCSL, TDA, National Strategies, Government Office and other authorities. E-mails of minutes from meetings, agendas for meetings and assorted papers to read for the week ahead. E-mails advertising courses, programmes, consultants and job opportunities. I have also brought a huge pile of papers home this evening to read through before a long week of meetings.

I know what you are thinking and you are right. I need to get out more!
I am back after a wonderful break, hopefully fighting fit and ready for anything and anyone life decides to throw my way...

I have spent the Easter break reading, learning and watching some more great ballet. Sadly, once again, I missed the opportunity to see the brilliant Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and its conductor Gustavo Dudamel but I did manage to get to see the Birmingham Royal Ballet production of 'Still Life at the Penguin Cafe' which was truly fabulous. I re-read Nelson Mandela's 'Long Walk to Freedom', read Barack Obama's 'Dreams from my Father' and 'The Audacity of Hope', and just for a while managed to forget about attendance, admissions, behaviour, special educational needs, standards and schools.

What my Easter break and my reading has taught me is that the challenges we face require us all to carefully evaluate everything we do and ask whether it is making a real difference. With public spending cuts looming we need to be brave enough to challenge every aspect of our work so that we can focus on the things that really, really matter.

And I personally don't think it's rocket science. We need to develop early years programmes that ensure that every child reads and counts by eight in a rich, stimulating and rewarding curriculum that creates brilliant little learners by eleven. We need to start earlier and stay longer with those children and those communities that need us most. We need to develop self-reliance, self-esteem and self-discipline through behavioural change programmes that understand and build on the critical importance of mothers, families and communities. And we need every school to become a healthy school, a green school, a Stephen Lawrence school and an inclusive school where we develop and nurture the values and behaviours that will help us ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes!

Everyone in Education Leeds and Children's Services needs to understand that we need to be totally focused and totally disciplined in this as we build world class teaching and learning in twenty first century schools at the heart of everything we do. And we need to be uncompromising and relentless in rooting out the inefficient, the ineffective and the plain useless wherever it is and focus on developing real excellence in everything we do!
My colleague Jean Basson, Inclusion Services CPD Co-ordinator, sent me this bit of great news...

"Dear Chris, You may well already know this but in case not, the West SILC were short-listed on 10th April for the TES 'Outstanding Special Needs Initiative of the Year'. The focus of their entry is as follows: 'West SILC (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre), Leeds Project: a focus on individualised learning pathways for children with the most complex and multiple learning needs has helped to develop improved interactions and functional skills previously not believed possible. A social inclusion model where children interact with their mainstream peers has developed a circle of friends for every child.' I am really delighted as I have been working with a joint Learning Team from the E, NW,NE & S SILCs for several years on their work with children with CMLD and Sarah Riley from the West SILC has been leading this group. I think it is a great achievement. Jean"

It is brilliant that more of our special needs provision has been identified as exceptional and I hope that they go onto win the TES 'Outstanding Special Needs Initiative of the Year' award.
My colleague Helen Sanderson, headteacher at Meanwood CE Primary School, picked me up on the blog entry about my visit to Kippax North Junior and Infant School...

The school has been nominated for the Sustainable Schools Award as part of the National Teaching Awards and I attended the start of the regional assessment day. I said in my blog that over the last two years we have had nominations for this award for some great schools and we hope that this year we win! I meant win the national award, because I should of course have acknowledged that Meanwood CE Primary School actually won the regional award last year and then went on to achieve a top three place at the national awards. Sorry Helen!

Quite an achievement for Kippax to follow!

The Equality Framework for Local Government

The Equality Framework is a performance and improvement framework which helps
public bodies to focus on the processes and outcomes associated with equality and

The Framework has been introduced from April 2009 and is based on the Equality Standard which we have been working on since its establishment in 2001. The Equality Framework provides a comprehensive and systematic approach to dealing with equalities and covers all aspects of policy making, service delivery and employment. The Equality Framework recognises the importance of fair and equal treatment in public services and employment and supports mainstreaming equality into policy and practice at all levels.

This framework will help us to:
• improve the services we provide so they are more representative, relevant and efficient, whilst also improving satisfaction and trust;
• ensure that policies and strategies deliver fairness for everyone and improve our accountability to local people;
• combat inequalities and avoid expensive litigation as a consequence of discrimination.

There are 3 levels to the Framework: emerging, achieving and excellence. As a level 4 company we are already at 'achieving' level moving towards 'excellence'. Work is currently taking place to fully understand how we will move from the Equality Standard to the Equality Framework. Achievement of the levels is confirmed through peer assessment. The Equality Framework focuses on 5 areas of change management and relates closely to requirements within the new Comprehensive Area Assessment: The five areas of change management are:
  • Knowing your community – equality mapping
  • Place shaping, leadership, partnership and organisational commitment
  • Community engagement and satisfaction
  • Responsive services and customer care
  • A modern and diverse workforce

For more information about the Equality Framework please contact Rehana Minhas or Council colleagues at


Equality Standard Level 4!

We have now achieved Level 4 of the Equality Standard. To achieve level 4 of the
Equality Standard we had to demonstrate that we had progressed the equality agenda
through the use of impact assessments, equality monitoring and involving
communities. Well done to everyone who contributed and to all those colleagues and teams who have work so hard and played an important role in making equalities an integral part of our everyday work.