Friday, 19 June 2009

I moved on to the Healthy Schools Celebration Event at Castle Grove in Headingley...

We were there to celebrate the achievements of around 50 primary schools, secondary schools, SILCs and PRUs; all of whom had achieved one of the Healthy Schools standards, Investors in Pupils or PSHE certification for colleagues. The session started with a brilliant 'Hand Jive' performance by children from Swarcliffe Primary School which everyone joined in with before one young student explained where hand jive came from. The theme for the session was distributed leadership and it was wonderful to see the Healthy Schools team who have led this exceptional work here in Leeds. It was also really encouraging to see colleagues from schools who have taken on the initiative and made it come alive and release something quite extraordinary in our schools. The real test though is the young people and the impact they are having in changing schools for the better; improving school food, tackling school behaviour, developing school activities, developing school approaches to important issues like recycling, sustainability, fair trade, transport, drug education, sex education, and tackling bullying, racism and extremism.

It's not the children of the world who have made such a mess of things; they are our greatest hope for a better tomorrow. Judging from the young people I met this morning the world is going to be in safe and caring hands!
I started the day early with colleagues looking at how we reshape our primary and early years provision to better meet the needs of families and children...

We all know that all the pieces of the jigsaw of brilliant are there across Leeds. Our challenge is to connect all these wonderful bits of outstanding practice together and then what do we call it? We certainly live in interesting times!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Yorkshire Bank 150th Community Awards

To mark their 150th anniversary, Yorkshire Bank are inviting charities and community groups to participate in their 150th Community Awards, through which they will donate £150,000 to local charities and community groups.

Who can apply?
Applications can come from:

  • Registered charities
  • Community organisations and voluntary groups.

What are the Award categories?

Awards will be considered for projects in one of the following four categories:

  • Environment - This category incorporates projects which seek to protect or improve the environment.
  • Volunteering - This category focuses on citizenship and initiatives that promote and support volunteering.
  • Education - This category focuses on initiatives that promote accessibility to both financial education and financial services.
  • Regeneration - This category focuses on community development through initiatives that build and strengthen communities.

In each category one project will receive an award of £10,000 and four projects will each receive £5,000. At the Awards presentation, towards the end of the year, one outstanding project will be awarded a further £10,000. In addition to the main recipients, a further 20 awards will be made of £1,000 each.

How to apply

Charities and community groups must submit a completed application form together with any supporting information by 16th August 2009. The application form is available to download from the Yorkshire Bank website or by emailing


I moved on again to Woodlands Primary School...

My new colleague Jackie Wilson, Director of Childrens Social Care for Leeds, and I were there to meet with Chris Walton, headteacher at Woodlands Primary School, Becky Ingram, headteacher at Oakwood Primary School, Alan Scott, headteacher at Brownhill Primary School, and other colleagues from the schools, NHS Leeds and Children's Social Care. We were there to discuss concerns colleagues had raised with Rosemary Archer, Director of Children's Services, about the support these schools were receiving where they had concerns about safeguarding and child protection issues. The meeting was really useful as a way of highlighting the challenges schools face being on the front line of the Children's Services world.

We agreed that we need to review our systems, resources and capacity to ensure that we understand and build on the work colleagues in schools are doing to protect and safeguard children while at the same time driving our work on standards and outcomes. We must ensure that every contact is seen and responded to as a request for help and support assuming that our colleagues in our schools have tried everything they can to address the challenges facing our children. These are not issues necessarily for our colleagues in Children's Social Care since most of the problems we face are issues around the adults in our childrens lives. We must therefore work with colleagues in Adult Services to ensure that we all work together to protect our children.

I would welcome colleagues suggestions regarding the way ahead.
I moved on to another outstanding learning place led by another outstanding woman...

I visited Shakespeare Children's Centre where Chris Raddelar, the Children's Centre Manager, and her team are doing wonderful things for some of our youngest children. The Centre also provides a base for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Team to run their Resourced Nursery and do early intervention work with children and their families.

The Centre provides a really exceptional learning environment for the children of this culturally rich and very diverse area of Leeds. Relationships with parents and carers are very obviously a real strength. Chris is a real asset to the Children's Centre and the primary school and she has created a team ethos and culture on which we can build something outstanding to serve this community.

We are so lucky to have such outstanding early years provision attached to a wonderful primary school on a 21st Century learning campus with Primrose High School. We know that every aspect of our offer to this community has to be outstanding and we must understand the connections, the connectivity and the partnerships that underpin this provision. We need to develop a new vocabulary and a new set of understandings around how the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are put together consistently and coherently and powerfully connected to build brilliant provision to serve this important piece of the city.
I moved on to Ninelands Primary School to see Jean Lumb, headteacher, and her talented team...

Ninelands Primary School is an outstanding school doing a brilliant job under Jean's inspirational, committed and passionate leadership. The cluster orchestra was rehearsing this morning and they were great. It was encouraging to see so many talented young musician practicing together and to see the real passion for music and the arts at the school. I had the opportunity to walk around the school with Jean to meet her colleagues and her wonderful children; from their really well resourced and developed Foundation Stage provision through to work on sustainability, an enterprise fruit and vegetable tuck shop, the Leeds Book Awards, sport and the arts.

It was fantastic to see the journey the school has been on since I first visited Ninelands about seven years ago. The school has been transformed by Jean's leadership, her energy and vision, her belief in and support for her team which has empowered and engaged everyone in building something truly exceptional and is releasing a real magic in this little piece of Leeds.
My colleague Pat Toner and I started the day early at Garforth Community College...

We were there to meet with Ian Garforth, Chair of the School Partnership Trust, and Sir Robert Edwards, Chief Executive of the School Partnership Trust. It was reassuring to meet and share our appproach to developing the South Leeds Academy and the partnership around it. We are fortunate to have this developing partnership connecting some of our most successful provision with South Leeds to build brilliant.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I ended the day at the University of Leeds...

I was there to talk to students and their parents and carers about 14 - 19 Diplomas with Gary Williamson Chief Executive of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Professor Vivien Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching at the University of Leeds and my colleague Joe Coluccio, Assistant Headteacher at Corpus Christi Catholic College.

About 120 attended the session which included 14 - 19 Diploma Taster Session in each of the Diploma Lines available in Leeds this September. It's great to know that 33 of our secondary schools are now involved with all the Leeds FE Colleges in this brilliant programme which has massive support from the business sector here in Leeds.

Thanks to Sally Spofforth, Gary Milner and colleagues who worked so hard to make this event such a success.
I was interviewed this afternoon as part of the DIVE Project...

The peer review is looking at our approach here in Leeds to equality, diversity and cohesion and I was being interviewed by colleagues from partner cities across Europe. I talked to them about the history of Education Leeds, the governance of schools in this country and the progress we have made here in Leeds over the last seven years. I talked about the universal offer and our commitment to 'Investing in Diversity', Healthy Schools, the Inclusion Chartermark, the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard, global citizenship, the international dimension and our celebration of difference and diversity. I also talked about the targeted work addressing key groups through mentoring, alternative programmes, Investment in Excellence, STEPS, AimHigher, Study Support and so much more. The two colleagues had very clearly been impressed by their sessions with other Education Leeds colleagues and at the end of my session one of the interviewers simply said that she was speechless!

It is very easy to sell the vision, the culture, the relationships and the programmes we have developed alongside the magic of Leeds but as I said at the end of my session the real test is to visit our schools and our colleagues across the city releasing that magic. The two colleagues asked me what I hoped we would have achieved in five years time and that was easy. By 2015 we will see a school and children's workforce that reflects the communities we serve, Every Child a Reader, a Writer and Can Count by eight, brilliant transformational learning in brilliant learning places where we have high expectations of all our young people and every young person achieving to their potential, where we will have closed the gap between those who have and those who have not and where every community engages, trusts and works with local schools to celebrate equality, diversity and difference.
I started the day early being interviewed at BBC Radio Leeds...

Andrew Edwards and Georgey Spanswick from BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Show wanted to know more about the paper we are taking to Executive Board this afternoon about the increasing demand for primary places in Leeds primary school. Based on the birth rate and the predictions from the Office for National Statistics we are expecting between 300 and 500 extra reception age children in September 2010 and the data suggests that this trend will continue for the next ten years. Education Leeds has a statutory responsibility on behalf of the Council to ensure that we have enough places for our children and we are consulting with all our schools about how we might do this bearing in mind that we still have around 6000 surplus places in our primary schools across the city. Creative and innovative ideas would be very welcome... the approach in Singapore is two shifts using the same building!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I ended the day at Yorkshire Bank's 150th Anniversary Dinner...

It was great to spend the evening with some fabulous colleagues from Education Leeds, schools in Leeds and colleagues from the business and voluntary sectors. I had been asked to attend the dinner at Nostell Priory near Wakefield to talk about the contribution Yorkshire Bank is making to education and to announce the education category of their £150,000 initiative in four key areas:
  • environment;
  • volunteering;
  • regeneration;
  • education.
The education award will go to a project that promotes financial education. In each category the winning project will receive £10,000 with four runners up each receiving £5,000. A further twenty awards of £1,000 will also be made. Entries have to be submitted by 16th August and the winning charities, community groups or schools will be announced in November. The overall winning project will receive a further £10,000. You can find out more at the Yorkshire Bank website at
I started the day at the Banqueting Suite at the Civic Hall for the '2013: From Policy to Practice' conference...

Rosemary Archer, Director of Children's Services, and I did a presentation on 'The Vision for Learning in Leeds' which seemed to go down very well. Gary Milner and his colleagues had done great job and produced an ambitious programme with some interesting local and national speakers. The Leeds Colleges were all represented and about half of the secondary schools amongst an audience of around 160. Feedback suggests that it was an informative and interesting day.

Monday, 15 June 2009

It has been a terrible day after a terrible weekend...

"Tonight I must write the saddest lines."

Over the weekend we had our first case of swine flu affecting a colleague at Parklands Girls High School and an ex-student from Guiseley School died after falling into the River Wharfe at a local beauty spot called Loop Scar. Then this morning a young student from Morley High School was killed in a road accident when a car mounted the pavement and hit her as she walked to school.

What a terrible loss; two young lives ended just as they were beginning, two school communities having lost talented young learners with enormous potential and two families this evening facing the world without two very special young people. It is impossible to imagine the loss, the sadness and the grief they must be feeling and our deepest sympathies go to them all.
We received a letter from Gordon Brown last week, well actually my colleague Jenny Marshall did...

I am trying to put it on the blog but I am struggling because of the format required. The letter Jenny received says...

"THE PRIME MINISTER June 10th 2009

Dear Jenny

I am delighted that your organisation is one of the first 100 to have achieved the new Customer Service Excellence standard.

Please pass on my congratulations to everyone involved - to be recognised for this challenging standard is a tribute to your organisation's customer service culture.

Your achievement demonstrates that you have recognised the importance of developing an in-depth understanding of your customers' needs. Consultation and customer insight is vitally important if we are to continue to make the improvements we all want to see in public services.

I wish you continued success in the work with which you are engaged.

Gordon Brown"

It is fantastic to be so ahead of the game in our work on customer service and I am really grateful to Jenny and those colleagues who did all the work to get Customer Service Excellence and to everyone else for their work to put young people and their families at the heart of everything we do.
It's been one of those weeks when young people have largely stolen the show although I have been surrounded by brilliant colleagues doing great things...

I started the week at another INVEST celebration with Jane Haswell and an amazing group of mums she has trained up as volunteers. I also attended the parent partnership service's celebration of their Chartermark re-accreditation at the Blenheim Centre. I visited Middleton St Mary's Church of England Primary School to attend the official opening of their wonderful Woodlands Community Garden by the Lord Mayor. I visited Tranmere Park Primary School and was treated to a little bit of Kirsten Finley's magic. I had a great lunch with the early years support team who provide outstanding support to the families of some of our most precious children. I visited Blackgates Primary School to attend their summer concert and be entertained by some of Elaine Kay-Devanney's really talented young people. I attended the third Willow's Young Carers Event at the Leeds City Museum as part of the National Carers Week to see Sheila Davenport and her wonderful young carers. I visited Benton Park School to attend their World Religion Day to see a little bit of the special day David Foley's colleagues had arranged for Year 7 students. And finally, I visited the East SILC for a meeting with the specialist inclusive provision group who are re-engineering all our specialist provision for a 21st century world.

It was great to spend time with Sarah Graham, Elaine Kay-Devanney, Kirsten Finley and David Foley at some great schools, and with Shelley Allinson, Sarah Tarrant, Bridget Mork, Jane Haswell, Sheila Davenport, Lorayne Farrington and Graham Newell who are doing brilliant things. However, my week was enriched and brought to life by young people; by Abbey, Stan, Eshe, Daniel, Tom, Isabella, Katharine and Isobel at Tranmere Park, by Alex and Hannah at Benton Park, by the children at Middleton St Mary's and by the musicians at Blackgates. They were brilliant and talented young people and wonderful ambassadors for their schools and for learning in Leeds.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Liz Taylor, Headteacher at St. Philip's Catholic Primary School sent me this wonderful e-mail...

"Hi Chris, I wanted to let you know about an arts project here at St. Philip's Catholic Primary School in Middleton which has been made possible by Kath, the Creative Arts Worker from Cockburn, Peter Nuttall, Community Arts Director and of course Dave Gurney. For about twelve weeks, Kath has moved (with what seemed like lock, stock and barrel), her stained glass making gear from Cockburn to our school so that she could work with six of our Year 6's (before SATs!) to produce what I can only describe as a strikingly fine stained glass window which reflects our school and its ethos. We couldn't spare a member of staff to take the children to Cockburn each week - that did not deter - they came to us instead! The children have produced a lasting legacy of which they can be rightly proud and of course bonds have been strenghtened further. What is particularly relevant here, is that only two of our children will move to Cockburn in September (the rest mainly to our Catholic feeder school) but Kath's, Peter's and Dave's commitment to the entire community of Middleton was made apparent by their determination that this project would happen. It surely does show that Every Child Matters to them! I was equally impressed when not only Kath, but Dave and Peter as well found time to come to us for the 'handover assembly' of the finished window - I was very moved that they should find time for us! You might like to come and see it for yourself in the new school year, when our new front entrance will be completed and we'll be builder-free! Keep well and God Bless, Liz ."

It is great to hear how colleagues from Cockburn College of Arts are working with colleagues in Middleton to release the magic in our young people and at the same time create something which sounds incredible as their lasting legacy.