Saturday, 17 July 2010

"We have every reason to look forward into the future with hope and excitement. Fear nothing and no one. Work honestly. Be good, be happy. And remember that each of you is unique, your soul your own, irreplaceable, and individual in the miracle of your mortal frame."
Pearl S. Buck (Walsh): 1892-1973; Nobel Prize laureate

As we approach the last week of yet another year, I realise that this is not simply another year: it's my last full year here in Leeds; and I am therefore really grateful that last week five events captured what is so special about education in Leeds...

I attended the spectacular ACE works at Allerton Church of England Primary School. I often talk about outstanding provision here in Leeds where colleagues are releasing an extraordinary magic, and here again at Allerton Church of England Primary School, Helen Stott, the headteacher; Joy Johnson, the visual arts teacher; and their colleagues are doing something simply breathtaking. I attended the hugely impressive Art Exhibition at Quarry Mount Primary School. My colleague Jackie Twaites, headteacher at Quarry Mount Primary School, had invited me to their 'Image, Music, Text' Art Show 2010 and it was simply brilliant. Jordan in Year 6 showed me round the school, and talked passionately about the art works, their inspiration and the people who had helped the children with the project. It has to be seen to be believed but Andrew Howdle, their teacher, has certainly released an incredible magic with these wonderful young people. I attended the Aberford Church of England Primary School performance of 'Grease' at Garforth Community College. I had been invited by my colleague Jo Heggie, headteacher at this wonderful little school, to the show which was simply incredible for such a small school. The performances the children gave were amazing, the costumes were fabulous, and by the end of the evening everyone was shouting for more. I attended the breakfast club at Carr Manor High School. The breakfast club is seven years old and had won the national Kellogg's Breakfast Club award. The breakfast club team were presented with the award and a big cheque by Fabian Hamilton, the local MP. And finally, David Dickinson, Dirk Gilleard and I attended the headteachers retirement celebration event at the Civic Hall. It was wonderful to spend some time saying thank you to these brilliant colleagues who have dedicated their professional lives to children, families and communities here in Leeds. Their personal files tell such powerful stories of passion, commitment, enthusiasm and hard work amounting to an extraordinary 211 years of headship experience and 522 years of service to children and their families.

This last week simply reinforced the fact that we are doing amazing things: at Allerton Church of Engand Primary School; at Quarry Mount Primary School; at Aberford Church of England Primary School; and at Carr Manor High School, but it's the same everywhere you look here in Leeds. I recognise that things are changing everywhere we look, but whatever the future brings we need to continue to focus our work on building brilliant learning places in localities with strong community engagement and powerful and modern governance. We need to build deep learning in all our learning places to equip our little learners with the functional, personal and social skills they need to be successful bigger learners. We need to continue to powerfully use ICT and local networks to develop and nurture excellence, and share good practice and great ideas. We need to nurture talent, creativity and imagination wherever we can find it, and we need to share and network the things that work. I will miss the magic at the end of the Summer term where we celebrate another year, and as children and colleagues reach the end of their time in these incredibly special places led by extraordinary colleagues like Juliet Agar, Tim Bean, Liz Benfield, Roger Bumby, Kathryn Carter, Su Edwards, Alan Key, Bernadette King, Jean Lumb, Alan Scott, Alan Toothill, Jim Vincent, Kay Crellin and Lynne Gillions.

After ten great years here in Leeds, it seems to me that successful organisations, successful schools and successful teams, all have the following characteristics...
  • a vision, values and sense of purpose which shapes the way colleagues behave and helps everyone know they are making a difference;
  • the courage to set challenging goals and to develop new and cutting-edge solutions;
  • an innovative and creative culture that values people and makes them feel special;
  • an innovative and creative culture that trusts, empowers and engages colleagues' distinct and unique talents;
  • a rigorous and relentless approach to evaluating performance and individuals’ contributions;
  • a concern for the wider community and the bigger picture;
  • a reputation for excellence, hard work and passionate commitment; and
    excellent long-term performance.

After all, as Tom Peters said...
"Leadership is the process of engaging people in building the future,
creating a legacy of excellence and making a difference"

... whatever it takes!"


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