Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Another week closer to Christmas...

It has been a great week spent with some more extra-ordinary colleagues, and some great leaders. I visited Primrose Lane Primary School to see Catherine Holmes, the new headteacher, who had started at the school at Easter. Catherine is a talented colleague who brings successful experience of headship from Hertfordshire, and it was great to be able to meet her and see first-hand what an intelligent and capable headteacher we have at Primrose Lane Primary School. I visited Hugh Gaitskell Primary School where Margaret Beesley and her team have made more progress opening a new community room, office, staff room, teaching areas; and a primary-age inclusion unit building on the excellent work they do with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. David Dickinson and I had breakfast with nine of our new headteachers, 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; the challenges with safeguarding, child protection, multi-agency working and extended services; and so much expected of schools.

I visited Benton Park School to see David Foley, the headteacher, whose enthusiasm and commitment has transformed the leadership and the culture at the school over the last couple of years. I had been invited to the school because Benton Park was holding a careers fair over two days and had attracted 48 providers from the universities and colleges to the armed forces; and from Morrisons to a local hairdressing salon. I visited the West Park Centre to attend the official opening of Ferdinand Koci's wonderful Art Exhibition. Ferdinand Koci is a Roma from Albania who has exhibited his work all over Europe. The artwork is loaned from Ferdinand's own private collection, and shows off his talent and amazing ability to tell stories through these fascinating and beautiful pictures. This free exhibition is at the West Park Centre until Christmas, and schools have a unique opportunity to visit the exhibition with groups of children. I visited Fieldhead Carr Primary School, an amazing little school, to see the real progress the school is making on its journey to outstanding. Nik Edensor is an inspirational young headteacher whose passion, drive, determination, commitment and hard work with a brilliant team is achieving some extraordinary results. I visited St Theresa's Catholic Primary School where John Hutchinson, the headteacher, and his strong senior leadership team are driving school improvement and achieving some impressive results, particularly with their boys. And finally I attended the Leadership Challenge Event 2010 where the real highlight was being able to listen to Chris Pilling, head of direct banking at HSBC, who's energy, passion, commitment and leadership style has had a powerful impact at First Direct and now HSBC. His approach focuses on developing a culture which empowers, engages and gives ownership to his team and also draws on intelligence and performance management to drive world class outcomes. Now where have I heard that before!

A week spent with great leaders and great colleagues reminds you about the importance of leadership. Great leaders are great learners… by constantly questioning and asking why. Great leaders are great performers… by being confident and energetic. Great leaders are great storytellers… by bringing strategies and policies alive. Great leaders accept responsibility… for decisions and outcomes and focus on what really matters. And above all, great leaders are passionate.
Be passionate!

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