Sunday, 24 January 2010

We are facing another onslaught from our friends at OFSTED who are also visiting our 'satisfactory schools' and ratcheting up the bar and focusing relentlessly and ruthlessly on data, outcomes and progress...

At times like this I often ask myself what are we trying to achieve together here in Leeds? What is our vision for our children and young people? How do we continue to build brilliant learning, in brilliant learning places to serve brilliant learning communities? What is the trick to releasing the magic and unlocking the potential of each and every child, of each and every colleague and of every family and every community to be their brilliant best? Our culture, our beliefs, attitudes, and values, determines our choices, our decisions, and our effectiveness. We know that beliefs, attitudes and values are the best predictors of individual behaviour and that these things influence our perceptions, our judgements, and our behaviours. Research also indicates that beliefs, attitudes and values are powerful and highly resistant to change. ‘The way we do things round here’ is the culture and it is really important that we regularly check out what it is we all believe should be the beliefs, values and attitudes driving our work and shaping our behaviours.

And back to our schools and OFSTED, we know the key to school improvement. It’s the quality of what goes on in the classrooms and everything points to the fact that teacher quality is the key to success. We need to focus on how we improve teacher quality and the key must be to love the one’s we’ve got. Evidence suggests that big improvements are possible provided we focus vigorously on the things that make a difference. There is also a strong relationship between well-being and child poverty and between well-being and inequality. Research shows that poverty and parenting both matter and that the eradication of child poverty is a great cause which must remain a high priority. I have worked for over thirty years trying to answer these challenges and those of us who have spent our lives at the front line know the real answers lie where they have always been...
  • strong, disciplined, focused and passionate leadership;
  • clear, shared vision, values and beliefs;
  • talented, energetic, enthusiastic and creative teaching teams;
  • empowered, trusted and disciplined colleagues;
  • brilliant teaching supported by strong assessment for learning;
  • stimulating, exciting and engaging curriculum pathways;
  • powerful, stimulating and interesting learning environments;
  • high self-esteem and high expectations of everyone;
  • strong, dynamic and meaningful coaching relationships;
  • high engagement and involvement of young people;
  • positive engagement and involvement of parents and carers.

We need to be determined, persistent and focused even if it is hard.… whatever it takes!

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