Saturday, 18 July 2009

Colleagues have asked about the small school pilot we are planning...

The pilot will build on what we know works well and will make the greatest difference in our most disadvantaged communities. It is at a very early stage in it's development but will draw together outstanding elements from National Strategies, Extended Services, coaching, PE and school sports,the arts and Investment in Excellence and STEPS. It also builds on the KIPP ( Knowledge Is Power Programme ) approach that started in New York and is now operating across the United States.

The KIPP schools share a core set of operating principles known as the “Five Pillars”: High Expectations, Choice & Commitment, More Time, Power to Lead, and Focus on Results. We believe that a significant additional element for us here in Leeds is more time. KIPP students are in school learning for significantly more time than average students, typically from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, every other Saturday, and for three weeks during the summer. Rigorous teaching is balanced with extracurricular activities, experiential field lessons, and character development.

If you know someone rich who wants to help us fund this exciting initiative please let me know and if you want to find out more about KIPP schools you can visit the KIPP website at


Friday, 17 July 2009

My colleague Sue Sanderson, Headteacher at Swarcliffe Primary School, sent me this e-mail at the end of a quite remarkable year for the school...

"Hi Chris, I wanted to take a few moments at the end of the year to share with you that everyone here has made, yet another year at Swarcliffe Primary School, such a success and amazing place to be! As headteacher I am so lucky to work with a fantastic team. A team of Governors, parents, children and staff. EVERYONE here gives 100% and more!! I want to especially highlight every member of the staff. Our staff are so keen, enthusiastic and willing to have a go! Yes! they certainly throw themselves in to everything from Wake Up Shake up..Street Dance….dressing up to time travel...challenging learning...discos...Christmas performances.. Summer Fairs... Prom...digging up the allotment...organising tiles on a new welcome mosaic ...the list is endless. Everything they do they do because it has a impact on our learners. And what amazing learners we have! As I watch our Year 6 leave I am so proud knowing we have released a group of young adults in to the wider world! As the team leave this evening to relax, rejuvenate and regroup the message is we've been a bit down but we are not out! We look forward to September to starting it all again! Watch out on Monday 7th September we will be back with a bang to launch our focus on Sculpture. Please look at this picture ~ its from the Year 6 Prom last night ....

...look at those faces; they are the future, they are what keep us coming back for more!!!
Thanks again, Sue."

It's wonderful to watch the real progress that the school has made during the last year under Sue's inspirational leadership and to see the results of her hard work in her childrens' faces is simply wonderful.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

And finally for today I attended the Governing Body Meeting at Woodlands Primary School...

I was there to talk to the governors about child protection, attendance and the extended schools pilot we are planning to run over the next couple of years. We know that a brilliant school delivers about 12% of a child's success, a brilliant family secures about 30% and a brilliant community secures about 30%. If we are serious about delivering significantly better outcomes for our children we need to work more consistently with families and communities. It was a great meeting and I look forward to developing the work with Woodlands Primary School to deliver better outcomes for children and better outcomes for families in this community.
I moved on to another of my favourite schools...

I visited Hunslet Moor Primary School to see Narinder Gill, headteacher, her wonderful colleagues and her amazing children. I had been invited by the children to their leavers party where they had raised the money to buy the party food and were having a great time with the staff hoola hooping and playing rounders. The children gave me some of their fantastic art work, a copy of their brilliant book, 'The Little Book of Stories', a copy of their school magazine, Humslet Moor Newsflash and a copy of their green actions logbook, 'Taking Small Steps to Greater things!' along with some other gifts.
I moved on to Cross Flatts Park Primary School...

I was there to see Georgina Sykes, Science Coordinator at Cross Flatts Park Primary School, who had invited me to see her allotment which has been given a makeover as part of Yorkshire Water's Million Green Fingers initiative. We walked down to the school's allotment on Dewsbury Road which has such enormous potential.There are great things happening across the city to build brilliant provision for our children and it is wonderful to see how far Yorkshire Water's Million Green Fingers have reached.
I started the day at Allerton Bywater Primary School...

I was visiting the school with Cllr Richard Harker to congratulate Nathan Atkinson, headteacher, and his colleagues on their wonderful OFSTED inspection outcome having recently emerged from special measures. It was great to walk around the school, meet some of Nathan's talented team and see the real transformation that has taken place at this little primary school.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

This evening I attended a performance of the 'Wizard of Oz' at another one of my favourite schools...

I was at Castleton Primary School for their Year 5 and 6 performance and it was brilliant. The incredible team at Castleton Primary School are releasing a very special magic working with some great young people, many of whom are now heading off to Swallow Hill Community College to start their secondary education.
Their SAT results are also fantastic and Swallow Hill colleagues are going to be receiving some incredibly talented young people to work with in their new Year 7.
I started the day early at Pudsey Grangefield High School...

I was there for the Education Leeds Board Meeting and then for a joint meeting of the Education Leeds Board with the RM Board. The RM Board had a guided tour of the school with Ken Cornforth, headteacher, and were really impressed with Ken, the incredible building and the whole school approach to teaching and learning, coaching and personalisation. The joint meeting was a brilliant opportunity to share ideas and explore how RM and Education Leeds can continue to work together, to experiment, to take risks, to develop cutting edge approaches and to build brilliant learning here in Leeds.

Watch this space!
My colleague Jeremy Dunford, headteacher at Deighton Gates Primary School in Wetherby sent me some good news...

"Hello Chris, I have attached a copy of a press release that will go with an article in Wetherby News this week. We have 33 Year 6 pupils who will gain arts award. Two will get silver and 31 bronze. We are the only primary school in Leeds with pupils involved in this national award scheme. It was only opened to Year 6 pupils last year and have two of a very small cohort of Year 6 pupils to gain silver. They have used the EPOS RJC dance project as a basis for their portfolios. It is also a good example of the role a governor can play. Fran Hannan, a parent governor and consultant with artforms, has supported the Year 6 staff and pupils voluntarily as the demands on staff and pupils are high.

“ this is a fantastic opportunity for the pupils and, if given the chance in high school, they can progress further growing to be leaders in the arts. They have worked very hard and produced a high standard of work and deserve the recognition they have got. It is also a great example of partnership between staff and governors who have worked together to support the pupils. Parent Governor Fran Hannan and teachers Ivan Lister & Jo Tate have done a fantastic job”

Regards Jeremy."

Another example of brilliant work at the end of another wonderful year.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

I received this e-mail from my colleague Rehana Minhas, Director for Equality and Entitlement, about another of the events I was invited to last night...

"Dear Chris, I attended an excellent 'Playing for Success' Celebration Event at Elland Road yesterday. The large Lorimer Suite was totally packed with Young People, their parents, families, mentors, headteachers and school staff. The Lord Mayor was present and championed the work the study support team are doing and the many activities Education Leeds has initiated to support Children and Young People. The special guests were presented with beautiful hand made designer cards to thank us for our attendance. I received a lovely one made by Matty Ward from South Leeds High School. The following schools were involved:
  • Mount St Mary's High School
  • Asquith Primary School
  • Windmill Primary School
  • Low Road Primary School
  • Morley Victoria Primary School
  • Lawns Park Primary School
  • Lower Wortley Primary School
  • Broomfield SILC
  • Cockburn College of Arts
  • South Leeds High School

Well done and congratulations to the study support team. Kind regards, Rehana."

These events are a fantastic reminder of the brilliant work that Steve Smith and his talented colleagues in the Study Support Centres across Leeds are doing to improve literacy, numeracy, ICT and personal skills for our young people. The brilliant partnership working with sports clubs and centres provide the motivation and incentive that draws young people and their families into learning and helps improve outcomes. We need to franchise these places and build a study support centre in everyone of our schools to reach even more young people with the Playing for Success magic.


I popped into one of my favourite schools this lunchtime...

I visited Templenewsam Halton Primary School as they were having their 'picnic in the park' before their sportsday. Every child had a recyclable take away bag with a picnic lunch with all the team working to make it a very special afternoon in the grounds. It's great to see that the weather stayed fine for the afternoon but they do say that the sun always shines on the righteous. I visited to see my colleague Kay Crellin, the simply amazing headteacher of this wonderful little primary school. Kay proudly showed me the new additions to their estate since my last visit; the new early years areas and the new Children's Centre. These new buildings really add a sparkle to what is an outstanding school led by a remarkable woman.
I visited Temple Moor High School Science College this morning...

I haven't been for a while and it was brilliant to see what has been achieved so far with the remodelling of the buildings. I walked around the site with Martin Fleetwood, headteacher, and the sheer scale of the challenge Martin and his colleagues have been managing is quite astonishing. The construction of the school is going on as the school works and as the construction work moves from phase to phase the school repositions itself accordingly and it is simply amazing to see how the team have managed this complex and challenging logistical problem and still delivered for their students.

The building is developing wonderfully and the LEP and Interserve are doing an incredible job. The scale of the building, the light, colour and space is great and t is going to be a hugely impressive building when it is finished next Easter. The last two phases of the work will finish the transformation of a sad and worn out school into a simply brilliant learning place. Anyone who thinks the remodelled elements of Building Schools for the Future is a second best option should look at Temple Moor and be prepared to be amazed; because I was!
My colleague Penny Camateras who is Project Officer in the International Relations Team at Leeds City Council sent me this after we heard that all three of our bids for Comenius funding through the British Council had been successful...

"Hello Chris,, I worked closely with colleagues in Education Leeds, providing advice on the funding conditions and supporting all aspects of bid development, writing up and submission as needed, on the three Leeds bids submitted:

1. Developing teaching & learning of foreign languages in primary & secondary education using cross-curricular approaches and new technologies
[CONTACT: Julie Burgess]
Aim of the project: To develop the teaching & learning of MFL (Spanish/English ) in cross-curricular ways through exchange of good practice, pedagogical approaches and development of resources, using Art and PE in particular as a medium to develop Intercultural Understanding through teaching of Modern Foreign Languages. (Key Stages 2 & 3 Frameworks for Languages ie for pupils aged 7 -14). Project activities will include involvement of Leeds and Malaga teachers and ITT (Initial Teacher Trainee) students in placements in Malaga and Leeds to enhance the European Dimension in their own practice, develop teaching approaches and language skills.
Partnership: Education Leeds, 2 Leeds schools (Prince Henry's and Adel Primary) and Leeds Met - partnered with the Andalucía Education Authority based in Malaga and their local partnership which includes 4 schools, The University of Malaga, Picasso Museum Foundation and the 'Cabinete Pedagogico de Bellas Artes'.

2. A partnership approach to Inclusion, Equality and Diversity of Minority Ethnic Pupils
[CONTACT: Denise Trickett and Pauline Rosenthal]
Aim of the project: The project aims to develop an effective and transformational partnership between Leeds and Nykoping in Sweden to promote race equality and community cohesion, celebrate cultural diversity, foster equality of opportunity for different ethnic groups and ensure different minority ethnic pupils, and particularly international new arrivals, achieve to their full potential. As part of this project, partners will share and develop models, tools and systems of good practice in leadership and management in this field.
Partnership: Education Leeds, Ralph Thoresby School and The Church of England Children’s Society as a further local partner, with input linked to their LEAP project. They will work with the Education authority in Nykoping, Sweden and their local partners.

3. Transformational change through partnership
[CONTACT: Richard Boughey and Patricia Rose]
Aim of the project: The overall objective of this partnership is to reinforce lifelong learning to promote heightened participation in employment through improved educational outcomes for pupils in both regions. This initiative aims to improve the outcomes of all pupils with a focus on young people disaffected with their learning experience. The project will address the issue of engagement and interest in education by using creative arts and embedded ICT to produce enhanced learning environments. The use of innovative ICT is designed to create interest around which the partners will build an innovative curriculum to improve learning outcomes.
Partnership: Education Leeds, four Leeds schools (John Smeaton Community College, Cardinal Heenan High School, Temple Moor High School Science College and East SILC - John Jamieson), CapeUK - working with the Stockholm Education Authority and their own local partnership, which includes 5 schools.

Each project was awarded the maximum grant of 45,000 Euros for the Leeds partners - and in each case a separate grant is awarded by the relevant national authorities in the partner region for their share of the project activities. Genuinely delighted that all three bids got through. Kind regards, Penny."

This is a fantastic achievement and, as far as I can see, no other authority achieved three successful bids. We need to do more like this and explore and learn from what is happening around the world to continue to build BRILLIANT!


Monday, 13 July 2009

This evening I attended the Annual Celebration and Awards Ceremony for the Visually Impaired Team's 'No Limits' programme...

Our brilliant Visually Impaired Team led by Anne Lomas has been working over the last year on 'No Limits'; personalising the curriculum to address the needs of young people with visual impairment across the City.

Mike Brace, who was at the launch in September, was back again. Mike was blinded by a firework when he was ten and has used his passion for sport to enrich his life, undertaking over 50 sports ranging from surfing and sailing to skiing and cricket. Mike has run marathons, skiied marathons and canoed marathons as well as representing his country in three world championships, six paralympics and two European championships. Mike has managed athletics teams in European and world championships, managed the first England Blind Cricket Team, founded the Metro Sports Club for the Blind and was involved in setting up British Blind Sport, British Ski Club for the Disabled and the British Paralympic Association. Mike has been Chairman of British Blind Sport and Chairman of the British Paralympic Association. Mike is Chief Executive of Vision 2020 UK and is a Board Member of London 2012.

Mike's passion, energy and belief again shone through his session where he argued that every child should have a fundamental entitlement to sport and activity and that we need to work to remove the barriers that limit the potential of any child with a disability. We also had inputs from Suzy Snowden, Max's mum, who talked about how the programme had affected Max, and from Brian Harrington who has worked tirelessly to enable his son Sean to experience similar activities and programmes.

Eve McLeish has managed the 'No Limits' programme for the VI Team and achieved something quite remarkable for this very special group of young people, Working closely with parents, carers and partners this innovative, creative and unique programme which was funded through Innovation Fund monies has extended horizons, enriched lives and helped young people exceed expectations and aspirations.
This afternoon I attended the Official Opening of the Multi-Faith Centre at Allerton High School...

It has been an incredible year for Elaine Silson and her wonderful team at Allerton High School and today, sportsman, television commentator and ballroom dancer, Colin Jackson CBE opened the long awaited Multi-Faith Centre

However, the highlight as always was the young people who shared their ideas about faith, religious belief and the new Multi-Faith Centre. The children talked, read, prayed and danced to illustrate and communicate their faiths from Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism. It was a wonderful celebration of the religious beliefs here in Leeds.

It may have taken a long time to arrive but the Multi-Faith Centre at Allerton High School with its very special compass laid into the floor was certainly worth waiting for.
It has been another busy and chaotic week as we roll down to the end of term, and the end of an extraordinary school year here in Leeds...

I started the week at a meeting at the University of Leeds to discuss a Sutton Trust proposal to support young people from disadvantaged communities here in Leeds getting places at the university. I moved on to Boston Spa School to the launch of their 'Sporting Inspirations' programme linking the school and West Oaks SILC with children in Bangladesh. I attended the Leeds Secondary Headteachers and Education Leeds conference at Hazlewood Castle before attending the Inclusion Chartermark awards ceremony at the Civic Hall. I visited Cobden Primary School and I also managed to get to yet another STEPS presentation, this time at Victoria Primary School, before moving on to this year's headteachers retirement celebration at Weetwood Hall. And finally, at the end of another full week I attended the Partnerships for Schools BSF open day at Allerton High School.

As always my week was filled with with colleagues and children whose inspiration, creativity, imagination and magic enriched my life; pictures from Bangladesh, children from Meanwood CE Primary School, Rawdon St Peter's CE Primary School, Hunslet Moor Primary School and Wigton Moor Primary School. Jack, from Year 7 at Ralph Thoresby High School, Paula Head and her colleagues from Cobden Primary School, Alison Carrick, Amie Morton and her STEPS mums from Victoria Primary School, Pauline O’Connor, Janet Poynting, Paul Tindle, David Wisnia, Andy Syers and Elaine Silson and her colleagues at Allerton High School - simply extraordinary people and amazing places.

Whatever happens next year, it will be a year of new beginnings. New colleagues, new challenges, new opportunities, new possibilities, new problems. A year where we need to continue to be different, to be creative, to try new things, to learn new tricks and to continue to make a real difference… whatever it takes! I suppose the most important thing is to learn from each other, to share everything, to positively embrace change and to celebrate the opportunities the new year brings.

Over the summer we have the opportunity to spring clean, the chance to reflect, to review and to focus. Whatever we do, we must ensure that we are doing the right things and doing them brilliantly.

Have a great summer break.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

I received another message from Helen Davies about singing...

"Hi again Chris, Just read your blog this morning - if you've time there are some books on this subject. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks is brilliant. The Sounding Symbol by George Odam. Music in the School by Janet Mills and another one about learning The Child Is The Father of Man by John Abbot is very interesting. Like you say all the sort of things you've known all along really but now clarified and backed by scientific evidence. Incidently, MRI scans have show that when listening to music nearly every part of the brain is lit up! One of the best reports I have read is by the Performing Right Society -
Had our school summer fayre yesterday it was fantastic - all parents and families, staff, children and ex pupils in Calverley park, pulling together for benefit of the school. All the best Chris, Helen."

I certainly work with some intelligent and well-read colleagues who really understand why singing is such a vital part of brilliant provision. Plenty to read over the Summer. Thanks Helen.