Monday, 26 July 2010

"Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets.
So love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don’t
and believe that everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said that it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."

I have reached yet another important milestone. This term marks the end of my ninth full year here in Leeds and in a way the most special because it will be my last full year. This has been another great week spent with special people who after all make Leeds the place it is...

I attended the session for headteachers at Garforth Community College, the Leeds Children's Services Improvement Board, Corporate Leadership Team and the Council's Executive Board. I also attended the Attendance Strategy Team Service Development Day at Castle Grove to talk about the future, the challenges we face and the opportunities to continue to build brilliant provision for young people. I visited Hovingham Primary School for Hovingham's 'X' Factor, a maths based talent show. The energy, passion and enthusiasm of Janet Spence, Jane Fisher and their amazing colleagues is simply astonishing and they are releasing an extraordinary magic and energy at this great little school. I had meetings with Mark Barnett who is working with us to develop our behavioural provision and with Gill Ellis who has just been appointed as Director of Learning and Schools in Nottingham. I also managed to fit in a round of retirement events with Paul Rogerson's wonderful career as Chief Executive of Leeds City Council celebrated at the Town Hall and our colleagues Chris Pollard and Carol Stagg lifetime of service recognised at the Elmete Centre. I visited Templenewsam Halton Primary School to thank Kay Crellin, Manston St James CE Primary School to thank Lynne Gillions, Beeston St Anthony's RC Primary School to thank Maura Laverty and Grange Farm Primary School to thank Katherine Stoker. These four wonderful colleagues are all retiring after careers of passion, commitment and service here in Leeds.

After yet another wonderful year here in Leeds, the scary thing isn’t what we have achieved, but the potential we have to achieve so much more if only we can release the magic and build brilliant provision consistently across everything we do. What always surprises me is how much potential there is out there. Our job as leaders, as managers, as coaches, as teachers, as parents, as people who care, is to help individuals set their goals, realise their enormous potential and understand that this is not as good as it gets! We need to use Jan, Janet, Jane, Mark, Gill, Paul, Chris, Carol, Kay, Lynne, Maura and Katherine to model the way. We need to switch more people on by engaging their interest, connecting with things that motivate and enthuse them, nurturing and developing their energy and potential.

I’ve always known it, but this last year has reminded me that what we have achieved is all about co-operation, teamwork, networking and partnering and that no one can do this on their own. We must continue to encourage the BRILLIANT projects, challenges and initiatives that are making such a difference. We must dig deep to continue to find, nurture and sustain talent wherever it is. As we build the new children' services arrangements we must declare war on bureaucracy, complexity and mediocrity and keep it simple and create simply beautiful systems. Above all, we must communicate and share everything that is great about what we are doing across 265 schools with 17,000 colleagues working for and with 108,000 children and young people.

I have been to some incredible learning places this year and everywhere and wherever colleagues are releasing the magic they are trusted, talented, empowered and effective. Brilliant colleagues working in schools and classrooms, supported locally by focused and efficient teams, are releasing the magic and delivering world class outcomes. Don't let anyone tell you that we don't know what it takes to build brilliant... it's alive and well here in Leeds.

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