Tuesday, 22 June 2010

I met up with an amazing group of headteacher colleagues later today...

The Inner North West Family of Schools headteachers are a great group of colleagues doing brilliant work with children and families against a background of poverty and deprivation. We talked about the characteristics of brilliant provision and how schools could maintain their focus on standards and safeguarding. We agreed that the key is to maintain a focus on learning, on quality provision and to nurture passion, enthusiasm, determination, persistence and patience while being able to phone a friend when help was needed. We talked about the importance, in a children's services world, of improving the quality of what happens in classrooms and developing self-critical and reflective classroom practitioners who understood the learning and teaching process. We need all our schools to be creative and inspiring places that have the WOW factor. We need to develop brilliant early years practice and to ensure that Every Child is a Reader and Every Child Counts by the time they are seven or eight. And we need to ensure that as far as possible all our children became brilliant little learners by the time they leave primary school and are on a pathway to success by the time they are sixteen.

We know that we need to work positively and creatively with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to support families and build healthier and more sustainable communities. The challenges we are currently facing with change, cuts and uncertainty are actually an opportunity to re-imagine, to re-engineer and to create a new highly focused local authority that builds and supports the extraordinary provision in schools like these. If we want to build brilliant and if we are serious about trust, empowerment, freedom, flexibility and responsibility sitting at the heart of our work we must all take a deep breath and continue to encourage schools at the heart of their communities, to 'Think Family' and all work together to develop powerful communities through social enterprise, volunteering and public companies.

It is sad what has happened to Education Leeds, but our shared adventure has shown us what is possible and we must now build a new set of Children's Services arrangements and continue to build brilliant provision for all our children, young people, families and communities. It was a brilliant to spend some time with these colleagues who are at the front line of children's services here in Leeds. We must all do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more and most importantly it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together!

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