Wednesday, 10 February 2010

It has been a simply manic and magic fortnight...

In and amongst the usual suspects; leadership team meetings, corporate leadership team meetings, cabinet meetings, executive team meetings and children's services leadership team meetings I attended a National Strategies meeting and the Children Leeds partnership. I was interviewed by Martin Wainwright from The Guardian and Andrew Edwards and Georgey Stanswick from Radio Leeds. I visited Pudsey Waterloo Primary School to present certificates and prizes for the Pudsey Civic Society's 'What's it like to live in Pudsey' competition, and All Saints Church of England Primary School to meet the new headteacher and his team. I attended another staff induction session and had a useful meeting about the development of the Leeds Children's University. I attended the 'Mind the Gap 2010' premiere at the Shine Centre, met with Carol Armitage about the Teaching Awards, and with NAHT colleagues about the challenges facing headteachers here in Leeds. I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Shortage Subject event for trainee teachers at the Park Plaza Hotel and attended the Vision for Leeds 2013 - 2030 steering group meeting at the Civic Hall. I met with Sue Roe to talk about the support staff conference she is organising on 18 March and had a meeting about developing the Magistrates in the Community programme. I visited the Leeds Development Education Centre and managed to get to the primary headteachers' curriculum conference at Elland Road, before popping in to the 'Show Racism the Red Card' event at the Civic Hall and the prevent gold group meeting at the Leonardo Building. We had another headteacher breakfast meeting at Little London Primary School and I visited Leeds City College to present certificates and prizes to students from the East SILC attending a independent travel training course. And finally, I attended The Guardian Public Services Summit 2010 at The Grove, Chandlers Cross.

It has been an extraordinary fortnight spent with extraordinary people in some extraordinary places. Whether it was Bobbie Roberts, the wonderful young man I met at Leeds City College; or the great Year 5 children at All Saints Church of England Primary School; or The Right Honourable Paul Martin, Michael Bichard, Ben Hamilton-Baillie, Mike Freer, Phillip Blond and Charlie Leadbeater; the brilliant speakers at The Guardian Public Services Summit; the issues are the same. How do we develop ownership, responsibility, empowerment and engagement? How do we create new and powerful relationships that enable choice, develop voice and support personalisation of services? How do we intelligently explore alternative approaches to deliver even better outcomes more efficiently and more effectively... whatever it takes!

This is an opportunity to remould our services to enhance the role of communities; an opportunity to unleash the enthusiasm, flexibility and entrepreneurial flair of colleagues; an opportunity to increase procurement of services from social enterprises and to move away from restrictive commissioning models which limit creativity, innovation and personalisation. We need to understand that we don't necessarily know best, and we must allow schools and colleagues to challenge the way services are delivered whilst recognising that one size doesn't fit all. We need targeted interventions based on need alongside a high-quality personalised universal offer. We need to continue to focus on self-help, empowerment and responsibility alongside a relentless drive for transformational leadership, complete transparency, performance management and resource management.

And finally we simply need to focus our energy and efforts on outcomes, not structures, not processes, just outcomes.

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