Wednesday, 29 September 2010


I started the day early having breakfast with nine of our new headteacher colleagues...

These new headteachers are an amazing group of colleagues and we talked about the brilliant provision we have built here in Leeds over the last nine and a half years and how their schools can continue to maintain the focus on standards with so much changing locally and nationally and the challenges with safeguarding, child protection, multi-agency working and extended services and so much expected of schools. The new Children's Services arrangements will help develop the team around the school supporting the team around the family and the child to ensure that every child arrives at school ready to learn. We all agreed that as new headteachers they must continue to focus on outstanding teaching and learning and nurture passion, enthusiasm, determination, persistence and patience within their workforce.

We also recognised that they are part of a great learning team here in Leeds with access to a brilliant network of outstanding practice. We agreed that in the early stages of headship a mentor, coach and school improvement partner were vitally important and that it was important to be able to phone a friend when help is needed. We talked about the importance of developing confident, self-critical and reflective practitioners in our schools while working positively with colleagues from Social Care, Health, the police and the voluntary sector to support families and build healthier and more sustainable communities through our community hubs; the primary schools and Children's Centres.

We have achieved great things over the last nine years but we also talked about the many challenges we still face with persistent absence, challenging behaviour, mental health problems, alcohol abuse, obesity, sexual health, poverty, worklessness and disfunctional families.  These colleagues have a passionate commitment to their children, and understand that schools must be outstanding learning places with the WOW factor and where children are exposed to rigorous, pacey and brilliant teaching to ensure that as far as possible they all became literate, numerate and had the necessary social and emotional skills to succeed.

It was a brilliant start to the day with some great colleagues.  We need to do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more. We all recognise the challenges that lie ahead and we need to be more creative and more collaborative and more collegiate as part of Team Leeds.  Remember that the best way to predict the future is to invent it for yourself.

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