Sunday, 24 January 2010

It is important during these challenging times that we are all clear about the agenda as we move forward into the next stage of the development of children's services here in Leeds. So much is going on that we could easily be distracted from our core business. We need to carefully, systematically and intelligently build on the real progress we have made and continue to ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes!

I am not sure where this last week went, other than it seems to have flown by. The usual round of meetings was interspersed with some really brilliant stuff. On Monday, I talked to our primary school improvement partners at Weetwood Hall. On Tuesday, I attended the first meeting of the new children's services improvement board; met Debbie Leigh, the Yorkshire Evening Post's new education journalist; and talked to the Outer East primary deputy headteachers' group. On Wednesday, I visited Crawshaw School before attending the council meeting. On Thursday, I attended the Children Leeds learning partnership, before attending the latest Leeds Inclusion Chartermark award ceremony at the Civic Hall. And finally, on Friday, I attended the DCSF national roll-out event for the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard at the Royal Armouries. The real highlights of the last week were the opportunities to showcase our best advert: our children and young people who; at the Leeds Inclusion Chartermark and the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard events; were simply extra-ordinary as they sang and danced and talked and shared their stories, successes and achievements.

Over the next few months we must continue to share and celebrate the best of Leeds to ensure that every school in Leeds is: improving; inclusive; and doing the best it can for all its learners. We must listen carefully to our young people and their parents, carers, and communities; and make sure that we have enough brilliant learning places for all our children. We must continue to improve and develop the school estate through the Primary Capital Programme, Building Schools for the Future, and the creative use of developed capital; and make 21st Century Schools come alive in Leeds. We must continue to improve attendance, tackle persistent absence, and improve behaviour; and ensure that our most special and vulnerable children's needs are met and that they all achieve. We must make sure that our most valuable resource, our workforce, continues to be well-trained, developed and supported; and that we share, network, learn from and make consistent the very best practice locally, nationally and internationally.

Above all, we must ensure that we consistently model the values, behaviours and expectations we have for our colleagues and our young people. At the heart of this work is a unique culture based on trust, respect, tolerance, equality and understanding. If we want to continue to release potential and magic, we must eliminate the blame culture and continue to talk and act "team". We must coach, nurture and support each other; encouraging everyone to be their unique and extra-ordinary best. I expect everyone to step up to this challenge. I expect everyone to continue to raise their game and show the world what we stand for and why Education Leeds is a 'Times 100' company, a 'Customer Service Excellence' company, and an award-winning company that has transformed learning in Leeds.
Keep the faith.

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