Saturday, 15 May 2010

They say a week is a long time in politics and this one has certainly changed the landscape with a new Department for Education, a new Secretary of State for Education, new schools and children's ministers and a promise to refocus the work of the department on teaching and learning...

This last week has flown by simply because I have been so busy. On Monday, I met my old colleague Mark Barnett who is doing some work for us with the PRUs. I also visited the BESD SILC to meet with the governors and the senior team to talk about how we continue to develop behavioural provision for our most complex population. On Tuesday, after Corporate Leadership Team, I met with Bob Vince from Interserve who chairs our LEP which is working with us to continue to transform the learning landscape through Building Schools for the Future. On Wednesday I visited Barwick-in-Elmet CE Primary School where Peter Doherty and his team are doing great things. On Thursday I attended the Leeds Learning Partnership where we talked about the opportunities and challenges we have with 14 - 19 provision which of course extends to 25 for young people with special education needs. I moved on to an induction event at the Derek Fatchett Centre with another brilliant group of new colleagues before I joined the 'Show Racism the Red Card' event at Elland Road with children from Cottingley Primary School, Ingram Road Primary School, Hugh Gaitskell Primary School and St Anthony's Catholic Primary School who were great! I then met colleagues from the NAHT to talk about the Key Stage 2 SATs boycott, the development of Trusts in Leeds and the journey we are on to build new children's services arrangements to serve the city. On Friday as the week drew to a close Eleanor Brazil and I attended the 14 - 19 Progress Check meeting with colleagues from schools, colleges, Integrated Youth Support, Prospects, our 14 - 19 Team, our School Improvement Team, the Director of Children's Services Unit and colleagues from the new Department for Education and Government Office. And finally I attended the Parent Support Advisers Conference at the Village Hotel to talk to them about the future.

We need to establish greater ownership of our new vision and values. We need to build a new set of children's services arrangements that will continue to make a real difference for children and young people, their families and communities. We need to learn from the best of our practice here in Leeds… we need to learn what works and what doesn’t… we need to explore the research and dispel the myths that say our young people can’t be successful. I know I say it every week but it’s wonderful to know that talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues are making such a difference across the city... Mark, Bob, our parents support advisers, Peter and his colleagues at Barwick-in-Elmet CE Primary School, colleagues at Cottingley Primary School, Ingram Road Primary School, Hugh Gaitskell Primary School and St Anthony's Catholic Primary School, Jo Wallis and the 'Show Racism the Red Card' team, our new colleagues and the army who joined me at the 14-19 progress check.

And, as we build the future together, we need to continue our relentless and uncompromising focus on standards and outcomes; to be totally honest about what works and what doesn’t work, to be totally clear about what we are doing and what we are not doing. We need great leadership, strong performance management, outstanding resource management and really intelligent accountability driving everything we do. And we need to answer some key questions: what stops any child becoming a talker, a reader, a writer and a counter by the end of their infant years? what stops us from getting almost every child in a primary school to level 4 at the end of their primary years? what stops us getting every young person level 2 qualifications, the equivalent of 5 good GCSEs, by the time they reach the end of their secondary years? Does anyone out there actually believe it is impossible to build brilliant given the resources and the support? What are the things we would need to do to guarantee success? Only by really understanding, what the limiting factors are, can we target resources and use everything we have available to us, to really make a difference and ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.

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