Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last week was yet another week full of meetings, briefings and updates...
I attended our leadership team, the Leeds children's services improvement board, Leeds Children's Trust board, our children's services programme board, executive board and executive team meetings. I also provided councillor briefings for the executive board meeting, and met with headteachers from three of our families of schools. I started with the Inner North West family of schools headteachers, before having breakfast with headteachers from the Inner South family of schools and another breakfast with headteachers from the Inner West. These are great groups of colleagues all doing brilliant work with children and families against a background of poverty and deprivation. They have a fundamental and unshakeable belief in what can be achieved with their children and their communities, and it was brilliant to spend some time with these colleagues who are at the front line of children's services here in Leeds. These colleagues lead some great schools where frontline provision is wrapped in a stimulating, creative and imaginative curriculum offer that aims to turn out happy, healthy, safe and successful little learners, whatever it takes. Their energy, enthusiasm, passion and commitment is releasing the magic in some of the toughest parts of Leeds!
Later in the week I visited Whitecote Primary School for the launch of Education Leeds schools green day. This brilliant little primary school had arranged a whole day of activity for it's 400+ children including: a recycling assembly: recycled art activities; a visit to a local organic farm; a visit by npower's climate cops; and the launch of their 'eco-monitors' team. I also attended the first ever Leeds City College awards ceremony at Leeds Town Hall. It was a wonderful evening celebrating some talented young people who have achieved outstanding academic results, and others who had achieved great things against the odds. I attended the Primary African Caribbean Excellence/Black Children's Achievement programme celebration event at the Civic Hall, where St Peter's Church of England Primary School and Allerton Church of England Primary School did wonderful performances, and they were stunning. I finally finished the week video conferencing with students at Crawshaw School as part of our green day. These great young people wanted to tell me what they were doing, and asked me what Education Leeds was doing as an organisation and how we were helping schools develop environmental education and understanding to become sustainable schools.
Those of you who know me well know that I don't like meetings because, with some notable exceptions, they are one of the biggest institutional time wasters around. I remember someone telling me that on an average day in the UK there are around 5 million meetings. I don't know how they worked that out, but if it is true it makes you wonder how anything ever gets done! I know that some meetings are important and often essential elements of our work, so the real question is: how are we going to improve the productivity of our meetings? We must constantly look at what was accomplished in our meetings and ask ourselves - was it worth it? I know that the answer is sometimes "yes", but a lot of the time the answer is "no". We need to ask ourselves some questions about each of the meetings we arrange:
- Is it necessary?
- What would happen if it did not take place?
- What if we did not meet quite so often?
We also need to ask ourselves these questions about each of the meetings we attend:
- Do I need to attend?
- Do I get anything out of it?
- Do I contribute anything?
If the answers to these questions is "no", try to avoid attending the meeting and do something that makes a real difference instead... help a child, grow a garden or help tackle poverty!