Sunday, 9 May 2010

"When we experience something together we share a common memory, a common insight and develop a common wisdom. The more we share the easier it is to work together and the more we develop a common language and common understanding."

We had another interesting week last week culminating in the local and national elections which have redrawn the political landscape both in Leeds and in Westminster...

After the Bank Holiday weekend I attended the usual round of meetings and we had the monthly meeting of the Education Leeds board. I also managed to fit in visits to Chapel Allerton Primary School and Queensway Primary School to meet with Nicholas Sykes, Gail Palmer-Smeaton and their teams who are releasing the magic in some wonderful young people. And finally, I had lunch with the Education Leeds SENSAP team where we celebrated their work over the last weeks and months supporting some of our most special and precious children and young people and their parents and carers.

Here in Leeds, we are building a children's services world where we create integrated teams with shared agendas, common perspectives, and shared beliefs and values. And while there will always be "differences", these surely bring unique and special perspectives that provide us with opportunities to do things differently: to be creative and imaginative; but also disciplined and focused. We must all continue to work to develop one common and shared vision: a powerful and compelling picture of the future that we want to build for all our children and young people; their families; and communities. This takes courage, it takes patience, but most importantly it takes great leadership…and not just from Eleanor Brazil as interim director of children's services, or from me, as chief executive of Education Leeds… from all of us.

Over the next few weeks, and particularly when the going gets tough, we all need to be more visible, articulate our shared vision, and repeat it time and time and time again. We all need to understand the journey we are on, and to constantly celebrate our successes and recognise our continuing challenges. Our fundamental work here at Children Leeds is about providing leadership for managing performance, managing resources and managing change: it’s about questions, answers, problems and solutions; and we must invite everyone to comment, to criticise, to praise, to suggest alternatives and to question. We need all our colleagues, our partners, our stakeholders and importantly our young people to understand that their opinions are valued and welcome. This is a critical period in the Children Leeds story and I know that some colleagues are finding the situation worrying: too many challenges; not enough time; too much change; and not enough attention paid to the things that really matter. I see things differently. I feel energised and uplifted by the challenges we face. Wherever you are in this children's services world these are opportunities to share, opportunities to shape the future and opportunities to take the initiative and to make a difference.

Thank you for all your hard work. It is always appreciated and is never taken for granted. As we face yet another period of political change we must stay focused on the things that really matter, and build the team around the school alongside the teams around the child and the family. Remember that our greatest advantage and our greatest asset is our colleagues who are unique, fragile and brilliant human beings with enormous potential, and we must work with them to release their magic to benefit the children and young people of this wonderful city.

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