Monday, 18 January 2010

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is not to stop questioning."
Albert Einstein

Another week down and another week closer to the Summer holidays. I know many colleagues are longing for the sun and the warm because it has been another tough week with the snow, ice, wind and freezing weather. I am really grateful to everyone who in typical education-in-Leeds fashion simply rolled their sleeves up, put on their boots, coats, hats, gloves and scarves, dug themselves out and got on with it... some even managed to enjoy it! We had very few schools closed in Leeds, despite the worst weather most of us have ever seen, and those that did close largely did so because of burst or broken down boilers or impossibly icy and dangerous approaches to their schools. Our 'heroic' efforts in keeping our schools open even was even mentioned in the House of Commons by Greg Mulholland MP, who said: "Teachers, headteachers and staff have heroically kept many schools open in Leeds compared to other areas of the country." Thanks again to everyone who made such an extra-ordinary effort over the last two weeks.

The last week has been the usual round of meetings with the odd addition. The Education Leeds board met, and we had the launch of the Leeds Year of Volunteering at the City Museum. I didn't manage to get to the BETT Show but I did get to a school despite the weather. I visited Benton Park School for a breakfast meeting that was cancelled because of the snow and ice and instead talked to David Foley, headteacher, about the opportunities and challenges we all face in 2010. A year of: intensive activity following inspections; of uncertainty with elections and reviews; of challenges with problematic budgets; and of real opportunities with the revisions to the curriculum. We must continue to build a learning community here in Leeds that helps us share the best of what we do, connect with the ideas that are delivering brilliant results elsewhere in the country and the rest of the world, and look carefully at the research to focus our energy and efforts where we can make the greatest difference.

We must stay focused through this very interesting and challenging period for all of us. We must be persistent, determined and creative as we work together across Children's Services to improve outcomes and drive up standards. We must always remember that structural solutions and change don't automatically bring success and that vision, values, leadership and culture shared and owned by empowered, engaged and talented individuals lies at the heart of our success over the last few years.
Keep the faith!

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