Thursday, 3 September 2009

It doesn’t really matter what approach we take, honesty, respect and discipline are required to ensure success in everything we do...

This is a team game and we’ve all seen colleagues, new and old, who simply try too hard thinking they have all the answers from the outset rather than carefully listening and building trust, respect and understanding. All new relationships require time to develop and we need to allow everyone time to grow into an effective team member and team player.

Nothing can be learned through talking. Asking questions and listening should represent 80% of our interactions with colleagues. Respect is always earned over time and by example, it can never be dictated.

Self-discipline is one of most important tools available to us as part of our self-improvement toolkit...

With self-discipline we can deal with anything that comes our way; we can lose weight, we can stop smoking and we can achieve almost anything you really want to. With self-discipline we can get rid of the lazy, the sloppy, those who procrastinate and those who are simply ignorant. Self-discipline is quite simply the key to self-improvement especially when we combine it with passion, determination, persistence,goal-setting, and planning.
I have been looking through the GCSE results after another successful year...

Our overall 5+A*-C performance increased by around 4.8% to an astonishing 68.4% of our young people achieving Level 2 qualifications at 16. Looking simplistically at this years raw data the bad news is that when you look at 5+A*-C grades including English and maths the results have stalled after last years' significant improvements. However, when we look intelligently at the scores on the doors and at two or three year rolling averages the picture is quite astonishing and almost every school I've reviewed over the last couple of days has achieved some extra-ordinary results. Clearly, there is more work to do both to understand the results but also to target where we need to concentrate our energy and efforts over the next year to continue to make a difference for young people in Leeds.

Our secondary colleagues have achieved some brilliant results.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

I spent this afternoon in Manchester at a Tom Peters session organised by the London Business School...

The session called 'Excellence Always' was at the Comedy Club in Manchester and it was refreshing to hear Tom Peters again although he was older, angrier, more tired and less focused than the last time I saw him.

The message however was the same... what's important in a business, in a council or in a school is the people. When it comes to our priorities we should put our colleagues first, second, third, fourth and fifth. The key messages to remember are:
  • listen;
  • ask colleagues 'what do you think?';
  • say 'thank you';
  • smile;
  • say 'sorry'; and
  • manage by wandering about!

But if you have been reading my blog for a while you knew all this anyway!


Dr. Bill Pullen
3.7.61 - 20.8.09

Our colleague Bill Pullen, died very suddenly after a short illness on Thursday August 20th. Bill's funeral took place on Tuesday 1st September in Scotland, where he was born. Bill took up the post of Headteacher at Farnley Park in September, 2005 after being Deputy Headteacher at Benton Park School. 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 sadly missed by us all... Farnley Park, West Leeds, Leeds and the world of education and learning have lost a remarkable human being and the world is a sadder and less special place without him.

Our thoughts as an educational community are with his family and friends at this terribly sad time.


"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
Calvin Coolidge

The new year has started under a huge dark cloud with Bill Pullen's death but looking back over the last year, our eighth year here in Leeds, we have to remember that we have had another great year with some extraordinary successes...

Just look at what our best primary schools, secondary schools, SILCs and PRUs have achieved over the last year and simply imagine what we could achieve together if everyone was as passionate, as committed and determined, as prepared to go the extra mile and as focused and as excellent as the most inspiring and exceptional colleagues in the best bits of Education Leeds and in those outstanding schools.

I know that I say this every year but these next few months are critical for Education Leeds and Children Services as we approach the a new set of opportunities and challenges with the new OFSTED Framework, 21st Century Schools, the National Challenge, more DCSF initiatives, even more focus on standards, safeguarding and with more Academies rolling across the learning landscape; a learning landscape where money is going to be increasingly tight and with local and national elections likely to bring even more change and challenge.

We must continue to challenge each other; to clearly articulate our goals and our roles and make belonging to Children's Services, Education Leeds and the learning team here in Leeds a vibrant, exciting and dynamic part of our lives. I’ll try to get to as many schools, centres, team meetings and talk to as many of you as I can to listen to your views and to get your advice, help and support for the next stage in our journey to excellence, our journey to world class.

Just don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done!


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I have been doing this for a long time and, after yet another Summer, I am more and more convinced that our continued success depends on how brave we are prepared to be in an increasingly interesting world...

We need to lead by example, to get rid of the fear and to work hard to continue to build brilliant. Building brilliant is all about creativity, imagination and talent. It is all about experiments, pilots and trying things out to see if they work. Above all we must
  • keep calm;
  • go on offensive.
  • engage and involve everyone;
  • move all our energy and effort to the front line;
  • experiment and try things out;
  • make things up as we go along;
  • get some things wrong;
  • get some things right;
  • cry a little; and
  • laugh a lot.
Whatever it takes we must develop, create and build BRILLIANT!