Saturday, 15 May 2010
This last week has flown by simply because I have been so busy. On Monday, I met my old colleague Mark Barnett who is doing some work for us with the PRUs. I also visited the BESD SILC to meet with the governors and the senior team to talk about how we continue to develop behavioural provision for our most complex population. On Tuesday, after Corporate Leadership Team, I met with Bob Vince from Interserve who chairs our LEP which is working with us to continue to transform the learning landscape through Building Schools for the Future. On Wednesday I visited Barwick-in-Elmet CE Primary School where Peter Doherty and his team are doing great things. On Thursday I attended the Leeds Learning Partnership where we talked about the opportunities and challenges we have with 14 - 19 provision which of course extends to 25 for young people with special education needs. I moved on to an induction event at the Derek Fatchett Centre with another brilliant group of new colleagues before I joined the 'Show Racism the Red Card' event at Elland Road with children from Cottingley Primary School, Ingram Road Primary School, Hugh Gaitskell Primary School and St Anthony's Catholic Primary School who were great! I then met colleagues from the NAHT to talk about the Key Stage 2 SATs boycott, the development of Trusts in Leeds and the journey we are on to build new children's services arrangements to serve the city. On Friday as the week drew to a close Eleanor Brazil and I attended the 14 - 19 Progress Check meeting with colleagues from schools, colleges, Integrated Youth Support, Prospects, our 14 - 19 Team, our School Improvement Team, the Director of Children's Services Unit and colleagues from the new Department for Education and Government Office. And finally I attended the Parent Support Advisers Conference at the Village Hotel to talk to them about the future.
We need to establish greater ownership of our new vision and values. We need to build a new set of children's services arrangements that will continue to make a real difference for children and young people, their families and communities. We need to learn from the best of our practice here in Leeds… we need to learn what works and what doesn’t… we need to explore the research and dispel the myths that say our young people can’t be successful. I know I say it every week but it’s wonderful to know that talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues are making such a difference across the city... Mark, Bob, our parents support advisers, Peter and his colleagues at Barwick-in-Elmet CE Primary School, colleagues at Cottingley Primary School, Ingram Road Primary School, Hugh Gaitskell Primary School and St Anthony's Catholic Primary School, Jo Wallis and the 'Show Racism the Red Card' team, our new colleagues and the army who joined me at the 14-19 progress check.
And, as we build the future together, we need to continue our relentless and uncompromising focus on standards and outcomes; to be totally honest about what works and what doesn’t work, to be totally clear about what we are doing and what we are not doing. We need great leadership, strong performance management, outstanding resource management and really intelligent accountability driving everything we do. And we need to answer some key questions: what stops any child becoming a talker, a reader, a writer and a counter by the end of their infant years? what stops us from getting almost every child in a primary school to level 4 at the end of their primary years? what stops us getting every young person level 2 qualifications, the equivalent of 5 good GCSEs, by the time they reach the end of their secondary years? Does anyone out there actually believe it is impossible to build brilliant given the resources and the support? What are the things we would need to do to guarantee success? Only by really understanding, what the limiting factors are, can we target resources and use everything we have available to us, to really make a difference and ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.
This wonderful group of colleagues have changed the landscape here in Leeds; reaching the parts that other initiatives simply haven't reached and making a real difference where it really matters, as part of the team around the family. We need to build a new set of arrangements that will continue to make a real difference for children and young people, their families and communities. We need to learn from the best of our practice here in Leeds… we need to learn what works and what doesn’t… we need to explore the research and dispel the myths that say our young people can’t be successful. It’s wonderful to know that talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues like the parent support advisers are making such a difference across the city. Does anyone out there actually believe it is impossible to build brilliant given the resources and the support? What are the things we would need to do to guarantee success?
Only by really understanding, what the limiting factors are in the families we support and serve, can we target our resources to really make a difference where it matters and ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.
Eleanor Brazil and I attended the 14 - 19 Progress Check meeting with colleagues from schools, colleges, Integrated Youth Support, Prospects, our 14 - 19 Team, our School Improvement Team, the Director of Children's Services Unit and colleagues from the new Department for Education and Government Office. At the heart of the pprogress check we were looking at what stops us getting every young person level 2 qualifications, the equivalent of 5 good GCSEs, by the time they reach the end of their secondary years and level 3 qualifications by 19? The discussions were helpful because only by really understanding what the limiting factors are can we target resources and use everything we have available to us to really make a difference and ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
The event had been organised by Jo Wallis one of the campaign workers for this important initiative and involved about 150 young people from Cottingley Primary School, Ingram Road Primary School, Hugh Gaitskell Primary School and St Anthony's Catholic Primary School who were great! The children were involved in some workshops and had the opportunity to talk to Gary Bennett, Olivier Bernard and Brian Deane, former England international footballer.
It was a great afternoon and it reminds us that we all must continue to work to create a fairer, safer and more equal world; a world where bullying, racism, intolerance and prejudice have no place. These great events connect that important agenda with sport to engage young people and develop positive attitudes and challenge negative stereotypes. You can visit their website for a write up of the session at http://www.theredcard.org/news/news-and-events?news=1172.
These sessions always inspire me as I meet great new colleagues who have made that decision to join the best education team anywhere and now to be part of building an outstanding children's services world for the children and young people of Leeds! I shouldn't really be surprised at these unique and extraordinary colleagues because they have just signed up and are totally committed, totally engaged and not at all cynical about the future... or why join us at a time like this? These colleagues bring creativity, imagination, ideas and experience and they certainly are talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful additions to their teams.
They talked passionately about the Education Leeds culture and how much they loved their work and their team. They also talked about their worries that the magic might dissappear into children's services and into the Council. Our mission, our job, our opportunity, our challenge, as we move into the new world of children's services, is to continue to develop the leadership and culture that will continue to build on what we have already achieved. We must continue to release colleagues potential, magic and passion and target their hard work to continue to make a real difference for our children and young people... which after all is why we work here!
These are certainly interesting times and I always think it is strange to think about the power and the potential we have here in Leeds to change the world if only we could get everyone to believe. Our challenge is to get all our colleagues to believe passionately in themselves and understand that they really are talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful. The question we must all ask ourselves is what couldn't 30000 plus human beings achieve if they work together as a children's services team. What couldn't we learn in the 30000 plus years of experience that we collectively accumulate every year? What couldn't we do if we put our minds to it?
Stay positive and keep the faith!
The learning agenda lies at the heart of what we are doing and this group are commissioning and driving that change around attainment and achievement at 16 and 19, NEET and unknowns, free school meals, poverty and deprivation.
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
It's a great little school where Peter Doherty, the headteacher, and his team are releasing the magic. I talked to Peter about the curriculum, Key Stage 2 SATs, inclusion and behaviour before we walked around the school and met some of the staff team over a cup of tea during the school afternoon break. At the end of my visit the children did a 'Wake Up and Shake Up' session for me to T. Rex 'I Love to Boogie' which was brilliant!
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
My Husband and myself were in Whitby recently when we noticed you in the bright yellow jackets on the beach. You made a big sign in the sand with Churwell on it. We must congratulate you on your behaviour and organisation of the trip. You had a safe area marked out in the sand and the teachers were supervising you really well. We watched you making dints in the sand and filling them with water and you all looked like you were really having a good time. We were also impressed when we walked across the sands and saw you all washing hands before you had your sandwiches. Well done Churwell - it was lovely to see such well behaved children."
'Playground to Podium' is the national strategy that aims to help identify, develop and support talented young athletes with a disability, and has been developed by the Youth Sport Trust, Sport England, UK Sport and the British Paralympic Association. The Playground to Podium framework provides a pathway which will take young disabled people from PE, through club participation, to high level performance and competition and on to elite performance.
The event was apparently great fun and gave the National Governing Bodies of Football, Athletics, Boccia, Table Tennis and Wheelchair Basketball the chance to assess the potential of talented young athletes throughout the day.
"Hi Chris, Along with a group of wonderful colleagues from a variety of schools across the city, I am very fortunate to be training as an ECaR Teacher this year with John Shute. As you know this is a high quality reading intervention programme for year 1 children so I get to spend my 'teaching time' doing something that I am passionate about - how lucky am I? I have only been involved since September but have been thrilled with the impact the programme has had on the children I work with - not just in terms of their accelerated reading scores but in their development of self-belief and confidence. My first group has just 'graduated' and I thought I would share the responses of the parents with you. I hope the attached reports bring some sunshine into your day! With best wishes, Lynne."
- R’s attitude to reading prior to the programme was that he couldn’t do it so therefore he would throw a tantrum and refused. Since he started the programme he has gained confidence which has manifested in all other areas of R’s life including making friends, self belief and swimming. I have noticed a marked improvement in his reading abilities and he now looks forward to our reading sessions which we will carry on and will include maths and writing. R now has a gung-ho attitude to new challenges and is willing to try new things. R has become more confident and likes to express his opinions more than he used to – rather than fade into the background. I believe that every child should have the opportunity that R has had. The programme has also given R something to focus on and realise that small steps do make a difference. Thank you for giving him the chance to prove he can do it.
- Prior to K starting the programme, K enjoyed listening to stories which were read to him at home daily. He would memorise the stories and read them back to himself but didn’t associate the stories and vocabulary with the text. If I ever attempted to ask K to read new texts with my help he wasn’t interested. During the programme I have watched K’s reading ability and confidence grow. It has surprised me how quickly he has accelerated with his reading at school and has gained an ability to read with great expression and fluency. K now pretty much attempts to read any text, whether it be on a road sign or a cereal box. He even attempts Ben 10 books which even I struggle on sometimes! K enjoyed books before ECaR but enjoys them even more now that he can read them for himself. Thank you.
- The ECaR programme has turned an unconfident and disinterested little boy into a strong and capable pupil. The transformation has been quick and dramatic. My wife and I are so pleased that R has been through it. His attitude to school and in other areas of his home-life has got better as his education has improved. His reading ability is 200% better than what it was. R now enjoys reading and does not find it a chore.
The Every Child a Reader programme is a brilliant initiative and the feedback from parents and carers says it all! We need to ensure that as far as possible all our children became brilliant little learners by the time they leave primary school and that means that Every Child is a Reader and Every Child Counts by the time they are seven or eight. Some great colleagues are involved in making Every Child a Reader such a success and we need to do more of this; to talk more, to share more, to network more and to celebrate more.Chris
Dr Barbara Mary, Chair of Governors, had asked me to the meeting, with Bill Chatwin, the SILC Principal, and his senior team, to look at the opportunities and challenges we are facing as we re-engineer behavioural provision in Leeds. The BESD SILC works, at the heart of our behavioural provision, with some of our most challenging young people and we must continue to develop the SILCs as real centres of excellence delivering a coherent, multi-agency and highly personalised offer for young people. Our priority over the next year must be to ensure the safety and well-being of the students and the colleagues who work at the SILC as we work together to build outstanding provision for this complex, very volatile and increasing population.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
We had another interesting week last week culminating in the local and national elections which have redrawn the political landscape both in Leeds and in Westminster...
After the Bank Holiday weekend I attended the usual round of meetings and we had the monthly meeting of the Education Leeds board. I also managed to fit in visits to Chapel Allerton Primary School and Queensway Primary School to meet with Nicholas Sykes, Gail Palmer-Smeaton and their teams who are releasing the magic in some wonderful young people. And finally, I had lunch with the Education Leeds SENSAP team where we celebrated their work over the last weeks and months supporting some of our most special and precious children and young people and their parents and carers.
Here in Leeds, we are building a children's services world where we create integrated teams with shared agendas, common perspectives, and shared beliefs and values. And while there will always be "differences", these surely bring unique and special perspectives that provide us with opportunities to do things differently: to be creative and imaginative; but also disciplined and focused. We must all continue to work to develop one common and shared vision: a powerful and compelling picture of the future that we want to build for all our children and young people; their families; and communities. This takes courage, it takes patience, but most importantly it takes great leadership…and not just from Eleanor Brazil as interim director of children's services, or from me, as chief executive of Education Leeds… from all of us.
Over the next few weeks, and particularly when the going gets tough, we all need to be more visible, articulate our shared vision, and repeat it time and time and time again. We all need to understand the journey we are on, and to constantly celebrate our successes and recognise our continuing challenges. Our fundamental work here at Children Leeds is about providing leadership for managing performance, managing resources and managing change: it’s about questions, answers, problems and solutions; and we must invite everyone to comment, to criticise, to praise, to suggest alternatives and to question. We need all our colleagues, our partners, our stakeholders and importantly our young people to understand that their opinions are valued and welcome. This is a critical period in the Children Leeds story and I know that some colleagues are finding the situation worrying: too many challenges; not enough time; too much change; and not enough attention paid to the things that really matter. I see things differently. I feel energised and uplifted by the challenges we face. Wherever you are in this children's services world these are opportunities to share, opportunities to shape the future and opportunities to take the initiative and to make a difference.
Thank you for all your hard work. It is always appreciated and is never taken for granted. As we face yet another period of political change we must stay focused on the things that really matter, and build the team around the school alongside the teams around the child and the family. Remember that our greatest advantage and our greatest asset is our colleagues who are unique, fragile and brilliant human beings with enormous potential, and we must work with them to release their magic to benefit the children and young people of this wonderful city.
"Dear Chris,I have been visiting educational partners in Leeds over the past 17 days as part of my NSW Premier's Study Scholarship. I just wanted to let you know how wonderful the experience has been for me. Your schools and Education Leeds have been extremely generous in giving their time and sharing their practice. Everywhere I went I was greeted warmly and I have learnt so much. I know one should not just select from over the fifty people I have met but I must share with you my absolute delight with Carr Manor High School. Simon Flowers and his staff are offering outstanding education for young people, Lori Beckett's (Leed Met Uni) work with schools as an academic partner developing teachers as researchers is such good practice and finally Catherine Gaddes and the 14-19 team at Education Leeds are ensuring that next practice will improve outcomes for young people. In all the schools I visited the tone was excellent and young people were engaged in learning and prepared to have a chat in such a polite manner. Many thanks and congratulations on the quality of education in Leeds. Cheers Doreen."
As always, it is great to have independent judgements on the work we are doing here in Leeds and deeply encouraging to read these very positive comments from Doreen.