Wednesday, 3 March 2010

"Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets.
So love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don’t
and believe that everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said that it’d be easy,
they just promised it would be worth it."

Many of you heard yesterday afternoon from Paul Rogerson, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, about the outcome of the Strategic Review of Children’s Services here in Leeds and the recommendations that are going to the Council’s Executive Board on Wednesday 10 March. We have sent a copy of the report and the review to colleagues, headteachers and chairs of governors so you all know what is proposed.

I passionately believe in what I am doing here in Leeds and I care deeply about my colleagues. This is the best job I have ever had and it will be incredibly hard to see the end of Education Leeds at the end of March 2011. Personally, I have been wrestling with the outcomes of this review for the last three months and I have been at times angry, at times sad and finally I have become resigned to the inevitable. After Wednesday, we must all work together to make this work and deliver better, more responsive, more integrated and more efficient services to children and young people and their families.

In Education Leeds, we have created a unique, award-winning organisation and together with colleagues in schools we have created an educational landscape which has done and is doing a brilliant job and every internal, external and impartial assessment and inspection carried out recently, including the latest OFSTED Inspection of Safeguarding and Looked-after Children, has recognised our success, the relationships we have built and the outcomes we have achieved for children and young people. The last nine years have been the best years of my professional life and I have been blessed to be able to work with some extraordinary colleagues; colleagues in Education Leeds, colleagues in Children’s Services and colleagues in schools. Together we have achieved so much; we have transformed the learning landscape and the learning environment here in Leeds and achieved some incredible outcomes for our children and young people and their families and communities. Together, we have released the talent, magic and potential in so many of our children and young people, in our colleagues and in our schools… but we can never be complacent because as always there is more to do!

I know that means we must work even closer together because we now face a powerful combination of elements that will change the shape of everything we do whether we like it or not. Leeds has faced challenges before: in 2001 when Education Leeds was established; and in 2006 when the new contracting and commissioning arrangements were put in place. And each time we rewrote the storyline and re-created a culture based on trust, powerful partnerships, dynamic and creative leadership, strong performance management and the efficient and effective use of resources.

And now Leeds must change again. We are going to see a new chief executive of the council, a new director of children’s services and this review proposes a new directorate based approach to children’s services replacing Education Leeds to build on the best of what we have created over the last nine years. The Council believes that this is the only way forward and our challenge now is to respond positively to the review and continue the work we have been doing to ensure that every child in Leeds is happier, healthier, safer, even more successful and free from the effects of poverty… whatever it takes!

These challenges will bring opportunities for all and I have agreed with Paul Rogerson that I will be here to help with the transition and to continue to work with Eleanor Brazil, Interim Director of Children’s Services and the new Director of Children’s Services, when she or he is appointed, to continue to secure the best possible outcomes for children, young people and their families here in Leeds and to continue to build on the work we have been doing to place schools at the heart of a chiildren’s services world.

I know of course that this next year will be about uncertainty and change and I do understand that for many colleagues, listening to the news yesterday, their only worry will be about their jobs and paying their bills and, as someone told me yesterday, to be honest it doesn’t matter who they are working for. Many colleagues will know that they are doing a job which will be needed whatever happens to schools, to Education Leeds or to Children’s Services. Many colleagues know that change is coming through 21st Century Schools, changes to the National Strategies and all our Government funding, and whatever the Council does with all its back office functions. This period of uncertainty and change will be unsettling for lots of us and I promise that I will be there to listen, to help, to coach and to support all my colleagues through the next year. We will be arranging team briefings and breakfast meetings and using every possible mechanism to keep you involved, engaged and informed in building the future. If you simply want to talk or have coffee please let me know.

I’d like to leave you with some important messages
· Be positive;
· Be optimistic;
· Stay open-minded;
· Keep things in perspective;
· See the opportunities;
· Look after each other; and
· Stay focused on the things that matter.

And finally as always…
Keep the faith!


John said...

Hi Chris,
I just had to write these comments. It is obvious of course that things must change, our dilemma is to make sure they change for the better. I offer these comments: Since we at ICG began working with Leeds some 6 years ago we have seen some outstanding changes in the management and delivery of education in the city. You may not be awre but I think you are, that we at ICG follow Leeds City activities very closely as we provide support to our client Stockholm City Council and we feel obliged to do so. I have been very impressed by the way in which you and your team have and are working and we carry the message for Education Leeds to many top professionals in Scandinavia. Let us hope that wise heads prevail and the new regime of direction continues the progressive and highly developmental work of the Education Leeds team.
Best Wishes
John Ellard
Managing Director
ICG Sweden

Chris'Blog said...

Hi John, I am grateful as always for the feedback. The partnership with ICG and colleagues in Stockholm has been an inspiration to everyone involved.