Monday, 19 April 2010

I hope colleagues have had a great break, that you are all hopefully fighting fit and ready for anything that comes our way...

I have spent the Easter break reading, learning and watching some more great ballet and just for a brief moment I managed to forget about attendance, admissions, behaviour, Building Schools for the Future, the National Challenge, safeguarding, SATs, special educational needs, standards, targets and World Class Primary Schools. What my Easter break and my reading has reminded me is that it is discipline, focus and action that will help us continue to deliver outstanding schools, great outcomes and brilliant results for our children, our young people, their families and communities. With elections, public spending cuts and change looming we need to be brave enough to challenge every aspect of our work so that we can focus our energy and efforts on the things that really, really matter. We must continue to carefully evaluate everything we do and ask whether it is really adding value and making a difference.

I don't think it's rocket science. We need early years programmes where we release the magic; support every childs' personal and social development and ensure that every child reads and counts. We need to nurture great primary schools as they develop a rich, stimulating and rewarding curriculum where children read and write and count and study and sing and dance and create. We need all our wonderful primary schools to deliver the WOW factor and work even harder to create brilliant little learners. We also need extraordinary secondary schools where small is beautiful in terms of organisation, where coaching is supporting teaching and learning, where every young person is on a pathway to success and where more and more of our young people achieve good qualifications as the passport to adult life and work. We need every school to become a healthy school, a green school, a Stephen Lawrence school and an inclusive school where we develop and nurture the values and behaviours that will help us ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes!

We also need to develop self-reliance, self-esteem and self-discipline through behavioural change programmes that understand and build on the critical importance of mothers, families and communities and to make a real difference we need to start earlier and stay longer with those children and those communities that need us most. We need to be uncompromising and relentless in rooting out the inefficient, the ineffective and the obsolete wherever it is and focus on developing real excellence in every aspect of everything we do!

Colleagues in Education Leeds and children's services needs to understand the need to be totally focused, totally committed and totally disciplined over the next year as we build the new children's services world here in Leeds. A world built around and supporting 'Twenty First Century Schools', 'Think Family' and powerful communities... whatever it takes!

And when the going gets tough always remember...
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena... who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings... and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly."
Theodore Roosevelt

And as we face volcanoes, ash and flight restrictions I am incredibly impressed by colleagues responses to these latest challenges. Whilst some of our colleagues are stuck abroad unable to return home, as ever it is business as usual in Leeds. I would like to thank everyone for their passion, detetrmination, persistence, dedication and commitment to ensuring our children continue to be happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes!

Keep the faith!

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