Friday, 21 August 2009

The blog will again go quiet for a few days while I continue to get rid of the knots, unwind, relax, recharge and get ready for yet another brilliant year here in Leeds...

I hope everyone out there manages to do the same. And remember when you are out there... think team, think family, think about the things that really, really matter and hold hands and stick together.

Take care. Chris
"Life isn't measured by the number of breaths we take but the moments that take our breath away."

Today I must write the saddest lines and I am really sorry to tell you that Bill Pullen, Headteacher at Farnley Park High School, our colleague and friend died yesterday. Bill was one of those colleagues who could take your breath away; a giant of a man with a charismatic and friendly style and he will be missed by us all. I can see him now, standing in my doorway three weeks ago, smiling at me before the holidays. We don't currently know anything about his funeral but I know your thoughts, like mine, will be with Bill's family and friends at this terrible time.

We have lost a colleague, a friend and a champion of learning and young people. We have all been priviledged to know Bill and his death is a sad, sad loss to education and learning in Leeds. Chris

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

I met with Jancis Andrew, our new Head of Attendance, today...

Jancis is a breath of fresh air. She is bright, talented and gorgeous and will bring new ideas and new energy to our work on improving school attendance. Her understanding of the need to see improving attendance as part of a holistic approach to school improvement is really refreshing. We are doing all the usual things to improve attendance and now need to think creatively and imaginatively about why some of our young people and their families don't see regular school attendance as important.

We certainly live in interesting times.

Monday, 17 August 2009

We are on the edge of a radical and important transformation but one that may be lost unless we are very careful...

More than ever we need schools to connect more powerfully with young people, their families and the communities they serve. The research suggests that a great school can achieve great things but it's impact on a child's life only amounts to around 12-15% of the child's success. A great family and a great mum has a massively more important and influential role accounting for up to 30% of a child's success. And surprisingly a great community, an aspirational community, also matters hugely to a child's success. Sadly, while it helps, going to a great school is not the only answer to the problems we face and we must recognise that the answers to the real challenges we all face in raising standards and achieving world class outcomes for our children lie in tackling poverty, deprivation and poor parenting and in building equality and equity at the heart of everything we do.

Happy to discuss.
Language and attitude are such powerful determinants of how we think, how we act and how we behave...

When you are talking about a child, a colleague, a friend, an athlete, a dancer, a school, a place or anything else and you hear the word ordinary what do you think? You probably think of words such as average, dull, boring, plain, common, and satisfactory. You're probably not thinking of an ordinary colleague or an ordinary place because they simply aren't that important or that memorable.

So what do you think of when you hear the word extraordinary? Words such as amazing, wonderful, talented, gorgeous, outstanding and brilliant come to mind. You're probably thinking of an individual or a particular place that fits the description: a personal hero, a partner, a child, a friend, a great school, a great restaurant, an incredible footballer, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, a great poet, or your favourite place.

Sadly many people believe that if you are like most of us, ordinary people with ordinary jobs, that you have no hope of ever achieving success or doing something extraordinary: something that really makes a difference. It's not true. You are a unique and extraordinary individual with incredible potential and the difference between being ordinary or being extraordinary is not skill, the difference is attitude!
We certainly live in interesting times with schools increasingly moving centre stage and the end of national prescription and national control...

We need to re-imagine and redesign learning for this new age:
  • to re-think and understand that more is better;
  • to re-think and connect our learning places with other provision;
  • to re-imagine our spaces for learning building on creativity, imagination and enterprise;
  • to develop collaborative and team based approaches at the heart of what we do;
  • to build learning webs, learning hubs and learning satellites since small is beautiful;
  • to re-think teaching and formal learning to maintain excellence and academic rigour;
  • to develop learning as informal and fun to connect with young people's interests and potential;
  • to create learning places that young people love and shape to better meet their needs;
  • to create learning places where young people have high self-esteem and feel in control of their own learning.

It's all about brilliant learning in brilliant learning places!