Thursday, 29 April 2010

And finally this evening I attended the 'Leeds for Life Citizenship Awards 2010' at the University of Leeds...

There are over 2000 students volunteering at the University of Leeds. They run and support local, regional, national and international projects which were showcased during this wonderful evening with some extraordinary young people. Leeds for Life is intended to enhance and enrich the students experience, inspire them to make the most of their academic and curriculuar experiences and prepare them for the future. Through volunteering young people demostrated that they were abloe to develop skills, knowledge and experience and at the same time make a difference to the lives of others.

I was there to present the 'Education Award' and the three nominees were...
  • Simon Cleere, Jamie Lakin, Adedamola Adelusi, William Owen and Owen Lee for their work at Dr Rocks Lost Gallery;
  • Christina Rose, Emma Daynes and Alex Moore for their work with the Leeds University Union Music Society's Youth Orchestra; and
  • Katherine Hamilton for her work at Hollybush Primary School.

These wonderful young people have made a fantastic contribution here in Leeds. The winner was Katherine Hamilton who is hoping to become a primary teacher following her experience at Hollybush Primary School.


I moved on to Parklands Primary School to 'Get Up, Get Out, Take Action' Community Cohesion event...

The school was packed with children, parents and carers, staff, partners who were attending this brilliant celebration managed by Viv Gibbons, cluster activities manager for the Seacroft Manston Family of Schools. The event was coordinated in partnership with Seacroft Action Group, Parklands Primary School and Seacroft Manston Extended Services and funded by Green Generations and Aldi Stores. Everyone who attended was able to sample local activities and find out about volunteering opportunities in the school and the community. They were also holding a volunteer awards ceremony and I had been asked to present awards to children, parents and carers and group and individuals who were working to make a difference here in Seacroft.

We were all entertained by the school's brilliant little choir who sang 'Give it all you've got'...

"Give it all you';ve got
Cause you've really got a lot
Give it heart, give it mind
Give it soul, don't stop!"
As part of the event the Red Cross will be carrying out a community mapping exercise to identify a community led environmental project in the South Seacroft community with a start up fund provided by Parklands Primary Schoola dn Aldi Stores. The event was followed by a wonderful feast.
This event simply shows us all what we can do together when we have great schools working with their families and communities to build brilliant provision for everyone.
This afternoon I chaired the conference aimed at ending violence towards women and girls...

The 'Our Shared Responsibility' event brought together coleagues from agencies across the city who are working with girls and young women with a particular focus on how together we can improve their safety and reduce harm. The latest figures suggest that over 100000 women experience domestic abuse every year, 10000 women are sexually assaulted every week and 750000 children witness domestic violence each year here in the UK.

We were looking at how we might develop our vision for services for children and young people affected by domestic violence and we had inputs from colleagues from Safer Leeds, Education Leeds, NHS Leeds and Jo Sharpen, the author of the Department of Health Toolkit 'Improving Safety, Reducing Harm'.
I started the day at the first meeting of the Leeds Children's Trust Board...

The statutory Children's Trust Board plays a vital role in shaping provision for children and young people here in Leeds and deciding on our shared priorities so that we can target our collective energies and resources to make a real difference. We were represented on the Trust Board by two headteacher colleagues; Martin Fleetwood, headteacher at Temple Moor High School Science College, and Sally Boulton, headteacher at Haigh Road Infant School. We have a third seat which will be for one of the SILC principals.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Dirk and I started the day early having breakfast with a small group of headteachers from the Templenewsam Halton Family of Schools...

These headteachers are a great group of colleagues doing some amazing work with children and families. We considered the Key Stage 2 SATs boycott, the new children's services arrangements, 21st Century Schools, special needs and behaviour provision, early years, extended services and talked about the characteristics of brilliant provision.

Headteacher colleagues were concerned about the letter I had sent their chairs. We all recognised that how we handle the Key Stage 2 SATs boycott threatens to undermine the relationships we have struggled so hard to establish over the last nine years. More importantly, we were all concerned about how the boycott will affect the relationships in schools between colleagues, governors, parents and carers and children. Headteachers are struggling with this because while we all understand the impact of the SATs on primary provision and primary schools, we also all recognise that they are statutory and a contractual duty. Sadly, the real outcome of the boycott appears to be that we all lose!

We agreed that we need to maintain our relentless focus on teaching and learning, on the WOW factor, on quality provision and on how we nurture passion, enthusiasm, creativity and imagination. We talked about the importance of improving the quality of what happens in classrooms and invest in workforce development to continue to develop self-critical and reflective children's services workforce who understand how we keep our children and young people happy, helthy, sfe and increasingly successful. We need to work with colleagues from Social Care, Health and the voluntary sector to support families and build healthier and more sustainable communities.

We need to develop brilliant early years practice and to ensure that Every Child is a Reader and Every Child Counts by the time they are seven or eight. And we need to ensure that as far as possible all our children became brilliant little learners by the time they leave primary school and are on a pathway to success by the time they are sixteen. It was a brilliant start to the day with some great colleagues and we need to do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inhabit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists."
Eric Hoffer
I am always struck by the uniqueness of our learning places and the special people who work so hard to release the magic. It has been another week full of meetings, briefings and updates but as always there were little bits of magic that made me smile, made me think and simply inspired me. I attended another meeting of the Leeds children's services improvement board which is overseeing the response to the unannounced and announced inspections carried out by OFSTED, the first meeting of the Transformational Programme Board overseeing the move to the new children's services arrangements we are building for April 2011, and the last meeting of Leeds City Council before the important elections on 6 May. I had breakfast with Eleanor Brazil and David Dickinson and headteacher colleagues from the North East Leeds Schools Learning Partnership, attended a team meeting with the Integrated Children's Services team leaders and attended another Leadership Forum where colleagues were looking at the opportunities and challenge we face as we build the future of Children's Services here in Leeds. I also visited two great primary schools; Kerr Mackie Primary School where Angela Ronicle and her team are doing wonderful things in this rich multi-cultural community and Shadwell Primary School where Sue Pyatt and her team have created an outstanding little village primary school.

As we discussed at breakfast and at all these meetings, we all know that the immense pressure colleagues are under, regarding standards and safeguarding alone, can be simply overwhelming, and that's not to mention the other issues and challenges we are all juggling with, day in day out, on top of the normal day job. That's why it's so important to remember that if we are going to cope with the pressure and stress, and if we are going to release the magic and create brilliant learning for our children and young people, colleagues need to feel cared for and to feel valued. They need to be nurtured and they need to understand that they are making a difference.

As we build the future we all need to recharge, to re-imagine, to refresh, to rethink and to be inspired. And importantly, we need to continue to talk, to share, to network and to learn.

Monday, 26 April 2010

I finished the day at the Supplementary Schools Celebration at Weetwood Hall...

The event was to recognise the fantastic achievements of the supplementary schools in Leeds who had gained the Quality Framework Awards. We wanted to stress the importance of the journey our supplementary schools have been on as we worked together to build brilliant provision focused on equality, inclusion and excellence. Wesley Wu, our Supplementary Education Coordinator, who has led this important aspect of our work, told us all that we were the most successful area in the Yorkshire and Humber region with over twenty supplementary schools in the Leeds area achieving these important awards.

If we are serious about world class provision for all our young people, we need to connect 21st Century Schools, Think Family and powerful communities together through enriched and extended high quality provision. Provision that ensures that we help more of our children reach their potential through the additional offer we make through our breakfast clubs, study support activities and supplementary schools. These awards recognise and celebrate excellence and our challenge is to ensure that more of our children and young people access supplementary schools that have achieved these important awards.
I moved on to the Blenheim Centre...

It was really encouraging to see colleagues from so many great teams and talk to them about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as we build outstanding children's services here in Leeds.

I talked to colleagues from the Parent Partnership Service who wonderfully and sensitively support and empower parents and carers of children with special educational needs. The Parent Partnership service offers impartial advice, information and guidance on Special Educational Needs and exclusion policy and procedure to parents, carers, schools and professionals both statutory and voluntary. The team includes a Choice Adviser who offers advice, information and guidance on schools, how to preference a school and the admissions appeals process, and a Parent Champion who works with schools who have had notice to improve or are in an ofsted catagory in order to support communication and consultation with parents and carers. This service is one of the jewels of Education Leeds reaching those parents and carers it can often be hard to reach and who often feel let down by the system.

I talked to colleagues from our Pupil Planning Team who have done brilliant work with children and young people on the edge of exclusion The Pupil Planning Team works in partnership with schools, governors, pupils, parents/carers, Education Leeds colleagues, Area Management Boards (AMBs), other agencies - statutory and voluntary and all other stakeholders. The team works to reduce or eliminate exclusions, supporting and challenging all stakeholders regarding exclusion matters. The team endeavours to ensure that vulnerable and challenging pupils are re-included into full time, appropriate education provision, whether that be within their local Community School or as part of individualised programmes & pathways, via agreed re-inclusion plans. This team is another of the real successes of Eduication Leeds reaching and supporting some of our most challenging and vulnerable young people and their parents and carers.

I also talked to colleagues from our Educational Psychology Team which provides outstanding support for children and young people in schools. They identify issues and work to support children and young people to ensure that they succeed in their learning, inclusion and education. The team have enriched and enhanced our school improvement and inclusion strategies through the development of the Inclusion Chartermark, their work in the early years, on behaviour and social and emotional aspects of learning.

It was wonderful to spend some time with these talented colleagues who are making such a difference here in Leeds and will provide some of the fundamental building blocks for the new children's services arrangements we are building together.
I started the day with Chris Halsall and her colleagues at our Primary School Improvement Partners Professional Development Day at Weetwood Hall...

It was great to be able to talk to these colleagues about the opportunities and the challenges we face with building outstanding Children's Services here in Leeds. We need to powerfully connect the team around the family, the team around the child and the team around the school to ensure that every child in Leeds is happy, healthy, safe and successful... whatever it takes!

We need to focus our energy and efforts on the things that really make a difference and eradicate the irrelevant, the obsolete an dthe things that simply get in the way. We need to think local, think city and think about how we streamline the processes to create beautiful systems around 21st Century Schools. Beautiful systems that reinforce and support a culture based on trust, respect, equality, inclusion and excellence.

These wonderful colleagues are helping us share, network, learn and consistently build brilliant learning in brilliant learning places. Every school must be a great school so that wherever a child goes to school in Leeds they experience the best teaching and learning alongside the WOW factor. We all need to recognise and celebrate the wonderful work going on in schools across the city and simply make it consistent. Together, we can release the potential and magic in all our children, all our colleagues and all our communities.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Award for Education Business Excellence!

Mike Cooper, our Education Business Partnership Manager, sent us this bit of good news...

"Chris, We have gained the Award for Education Business Excellence and the assessors moved us up from our self-assessment against the criteria of 10 green and 10 yellow to 13 green and 7 yellow. They were particularly impressed with our evaluation process and noted the enthusiastic comments provided by education and business partners. Mike"

This is brilliant news and recognises the work Mike and his colleagues have been doing in this important area. It also is a fantastic celebration of the partnership we have established with business partners and the Chamber of Commerce to promote enterprise, vocational pathways and opportunities and the world of work.