Monday, 8 November 2010


Another week, on our shared journey to Christmas, has simply flown by...
I have been reading 'Talent is Overrated' by Geoff Colvin and it stresses once again the messages we have heard from Malcolm Gladwell and Matthew Syed about the importance of hard work and practice if you want to be a high performer in any discipline. Geoff also talks about the importance of deliberate practice, coaching and feedback alongside inspirational leadership.

This last week I managed to visit some of our most interesting primary schools where some inspirational leaders, working in a deliberate and very focused way with their talented colleagues, are releasing the magic and achieving great things often against a backdrop of poverty, low aspirations, deprivation and the many challenges we face in this multicultural, rich and diverse city. Dirk Gilleard and I visited Brodetsky Primary School to see Jeremy Dunford, the headteacher, to talk about his ambitious plans for the school. I visited Blenheim Primary School to see Mo Duffy, the headteacher, to talk about some of the challenges she is facing. I visited St Patrick's Catholic Primary School where Susan Kneeshaw, the headteacher, and her colleagues are doing great things at this little oasis of wonderful primary practice in Burmantofts. I visited Rufford Park Primary School and walked around this brilliant little PFI school with Alison Anslow, the headteacher. I visited Queensway Primary School because Gail Palmer-Smeaton, headteacher at this great little school, had asked me to come in and talk to the children in their aspirational assembly. I also visited Fieldhead Carr Primary School to see the work headteacher Nik Edensor and his team are doing with the Children's University. On Wednesday I attended the monthly Education Leeds Board meeting which focused on the way we are managing the business through these very challenging transitional times and what we have achieved in terms of outcomes for our children and young people. It was great to receive really positive support from the Board for the work we are doing and for what we have achieved as a team.

Visiting these six schools and attending the Education Leeds Board meeting reminded me why I came to Leeds and really illustrated what we have achieved together over the last ten years. We have transformed the learning landscape through the powerful use of our school improvement policy and through using National Strategies programmes like Every Child a Reader, Every Child Counts and the Intensifying Support programme. But most importantly we have created a culture of excellence through passion, persistence, self-belief and determined, focused and deliberate practice and hard work.
P.S. We are organising 'The Party at the End of the Universe', the last Education Leeds Christmas party, on Wednesday 8 December. I hope that this party, which is sponsored by Capita, will be an opportunity for us all to get together for one last time to celebrate what we have achieved here in Leeds and for me to say thank you to some extraordinary colleagues who I will really miss. Make sure you save the date!

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