Monday, 15 November 2010


I have had an incredible week visiting some brilliant schools and spent time with some great colleagues and some wonderful young people...

I visited some great schools: Shakespeare Primary School; Meanwood Primary School; Aberford Church of England Primary School; Ebor Gardens Primary School; Brudenell Primary School; Blackgates Primary School; and Seven Hills Primary School. Spending time with Julian Golton, Helen Sanderson, Jo Heggie, Keri Tracey, Cath Depledge, Year 5 and Year 6 at Brudenell Primary School, Elaine Kay-Devanney and Olivia, Thomas, Jack, McKenna and Mrs Wigglesworth at Seven Hills Primary School makes you realise that these are brilliant learning places led by outstanding headteachers whose energy, passion, commitment, determination and hard work is releasing the magic and potential in some great teams and some simply wonderful children. Many people fail to understand what it takes to achieve outstanding provision but the keys to brilliant are on display at these little centres of excellence: passionate leadership; great teamwork; amazing teaching and learning; determined practice; intelligent accountability; and lots and lots of hard work.

I also spent time with some extra-ordinary colleagues: breakfast with headteachers from the Aireborough and Otley families of schools; talking at the Leeds governors conference at The Village Hotel; and speaking to the new primary headteachers at their conference at Oulton Hall. Against a background of public sector budget cuts, the imminent White Paper, new Academies, free schools, milestones, floor standards and a constant stream of announcements about cuts locally, regionally and nationally, we must remain positive. Over the past ten years, we have transformed the learning landscape and achieved outcomes that no one ever believed were possible. Each group recognised that there is still much more to do to achieve brilliant outcomes consistently across all our provision, but together we have established strong, dynamic and creative foundations for the council to now build a truly child-friendly city.

I finished the week on Friday evening at the Little London Primary School lantern festival. This is the third year that the school has organised the lantern festival where children and their families and the team at the school carry their lanterns around the streets of Little London. It was wonderful to see so many families and friends gathering together to carry their homemade and spectacular lanterns, and to share and celebrate the magic of Little London Primary School.

It was an amazing end to another great week where I also attended the Education Guardian's 'Innovation in Education' conference in London which simply reinforced the fact that we need to continue to create world class learning hubs and centres of learning excellence where we nurture and support innovation and creativity. The key to the future is to create a culture of excellence working across a collaborative and cooperative network of brilliant learning places supported by a learning platform where we can share great ideas and enable colleagues to learn together.

We must above all continue to question, to challenge, to dream, to imagine, to experiment, to explore and to discover.

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