Saturday, 19 June 2010
On Monday, I visited the South SILC at the Broomfield site where Pam Barrett, Katie Cass and their colleagues are releasing a very special magic. The South SILC has been transformed since my last visit. Pam and Katie's passion, commitment, determination and hard work has really made an extraordinary difference as evidenced by the recent Ofsted judgements. These identified the South SILC as a good school with many outstanding features. I moved on to visit Holy Rosary and St Anne's Catholic Primary School to talk to Kathryn Carter, the headteacher at this brilliant little inner city primary school about the development of a ground breaking and unique maintained Cathedral Choir School. After lunch, I met Colin Bell, Principal at the South Leeds Academy to talk about the relationship Academies here in Leeds have with Education Leeds.
On Tuesday, was the Leeds Special Educational Needs marketplace event at the Civic Hall. The event was funded by Children Leeds Aiming Higher for Disabled Children and was co-ordinated by the parent partnership service. The event was a brilliant celebration of our work and of the teams who work so hard to make a real difference for some of our most special children and their parents and carers.
On Wednesday, I attended and spoke at the social enterprise celebration and showcase event 'Flying High!' at the Holiday Inn at Garforth. I moved on again to join a meeting of our performance management and information team; a great team of colleagues whose work lies at the heart of so much of what we do here at Education Leeds in helping to shape our culture which is about coaching, conversations, reflective practice and continuous improvement. I moved on again to see Simon Flowers, headteacher at Carr Manor High School to talk about the challenges and opportunities we face, to walk around the school and to see the total transformation that has happened under Simon's passionate, dynamic and determined leadership. Later in the afternoon, I met with Steve Williamson from Renew to talk about the opportunities and challenges we face as we move into this new world. It was a great session which really helped me to think about the areas we need to explore and manage as we build the team around the child. And finally, at the end of the day I visited Leeds Trinity University College to attend their '4th Annual Education Partnership Schools Concert 2010'. The theme was 'Thank you for the music' and it was a wonderful celebration of music and song featuring the choirs from St Theresa's, St Augustine's, Beeston St Francis, Our Lady's and Rothwell St Mary's Catholic Primary Schools here in Leeds.
On Thursday, I visited Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School for the start of their Stephen Lawrence Education Standard Faith Cluster launch event which was brilliant and had an extraordinary magic. It was inspiring to see these great schools coming together to share, to network and to learn about the power of teamwork as we wrestle with the biggest challenges we have ever faced. I moved on again to Highfield Primary School to see Julie Colley, the new headteacher, who with her talented team is building on the achievements of her predecessor to create an outstanding school that caters for the needs of an increasingly diverse community. Over lunch I met candidates for the director of children's services post before moving on again to St Matthew's CE Primary School. Heather Lacey, the new headteacher, is doing a great job building on some strong foundations to create a great school to serve this rich multicultural community. And finally, I attended the official opening of the Farsley/Calverley Children's Centre by Cllr Andrew Carter. The new Children's Centre is a wonderful addition to Farsley Farfield Primary School which is a great school with a fantastic team of colleagues doing great things in this little bit of Leeds.
I have been in Leeds now for 475 weeks and each one has been part of an amazing adventure where we have rewritten the Leeds story and created somewhere where the extraordinary, the wonderful and the simply brilliant is common place. I know that some people talk about a lack of consistency across the city but what they fail to understand is the journey schools, communities and localities have been on over the last five years together with the development of Children's Services.
The challenges we are currently facing are actually an opportunity to re-imagine, to re-engineer and to create new slim and highly focused local authority models that build and support our extraordinary provision.
If we want to build brilliant and if we are serious about trust, empowerment, freedom, flexibility and responsibility sitting at the heart of our work we must all take a deep breath and continue to encourage schools at the heart of their communities, to 'Think Family' and all work together to develop powerful communities through social enterprise, volunteering and public companies.
The Education Leeds story has shown us what is possible and we must now build a new set of Children's Services arrangements that can write the next chapters in the Leeds story and continue to build brilliant provision for all our children, young people, families and communities. Chris
Friday, 18 June 2010
I had been invited to the official opening by Peter Harris, the headteacher at Farsley Farfield Primary School, and Sue Warwick, the Children's Centre Manager. The new Children's Centre is a wonderful addition to Farsley Farfield Primary School which is a great school with a fantastic team of colleagues doing great things in this little bit of Leeds. The opening provided free fun for all the family including a magical grotto, magic shows, jewellery making, face painting, craft activities and the farm shop.
It's two years since I last visited the school and as I had arrived slightly early I had the opportunity to look around the school with Peter who also showed me the developments at the school's brilliant Farsley Farfield Farm. The school farm has been transformed since my last visit to the school by their job share gardening team who have taken career changes and now are releasing a little bit of green magic with the children, and it is simply brilliant. They now have two poly tunnels, an inclusion garden and other elements that make this a unique feature and a real centre of environmental excellence. Peter talked to me about the work the team have been doing with the building, the grounds, the farm and his ambitious plans for the future.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
I visited St Matthew's CE Primary School where Heather Lacey, the new headteacher, is doing a great job building on some strong foundations to create a great school to serve this rich multicultural community. Heather and I walked around the school and it was really encouraging to meet Heather's talented colleagues and some of her great children. It was also good to see colleagues from Artforms working in the school on the 'Music Passport' initiative. Youth Music developed its Passport to Music as a major new pledge to the last Government's Music Manifesto aimed at improving in music education in schools and communities. The scheme combines a physical passport which children are given, with an interactive website which children and young people can use to identify music making opportunities available to them in their local area.
Heather and her talented colleagues are doing a great job and together they are building something really special at St Matthew's CE Primary School.
Highfield Primary School is a very good school and Julie Colley, the new headteacher, is building on the achievements of her predecessor to create an outstanding school that caters for the needs of an increasingly diverse community. It was great to walk around this expanding school with Julie and meet some of her colleagues and see the quality of provision and the wonderful learning environment these talented colleagues have developed for their fantastic children. We all know that the key to building and maintaining a great school is to ensure that everyone is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful and it is very obvious that Julie and her colleagues are releasing a very special kind of magic at Highfield Primary School.
Visits like this always make me think about the ingredients of such a brilliant learning place? The answers...
- strong, focused and passionate leadership;
- a talented, energetic and enthusiastic team;
- clear values and beliefs driving the work of the school;
- a focus on standards, behaviour and discipline;
- great teaching within an attractive and stimulating learning environment;
- high expectations and hard work!
This is a wonderful team doing a brilliant job and together they are building something really special at Highfield Primary School.Chris
The launch brought together children and colleagues from eighteen schools who wanted to work together and support each other to promote and champion race equality in their schools, parishes and the communities they serve. They all aim to prepare their young people, families, colleagues and communities to become successful, engaged and responsible global citizens and achieve the Stehen Lawrence Education Standard. Central to the values of these great schools is the belief that the uniqueness of each individual is recognised, respected and celebrated.
The event at Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School was brilliant and had an extraordinary magic and it is inspiring to see these great schools coming together to share, to network and to learn. Freedom, flexibility and responsibility lie at the heart of everything we are doing here in Leeds to build brilliant learning in brilliant learning places. However, they are not about isolation and separation and standing alone they are about trust, empowerment and understanding the relationships, the connections and the bigger picture and most of all understanding the power of teamwork as we wrestle with the biggest challenges we face. It is wonderful to see these schools working together to develop respect, tolerance and understanding and working together to tackle racism, prejudice and intolerance. This is so important as they work with our young people who are after all the future of Leeds.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
I had been invited by Professor Freda Bridge, Principal at Leeds Trinity University College, and the theme was 'Thank you for the Music'. It was a wonderful celebration of music and song featuring the choirs from St Theresa's, St Augustine's, Beeston St Francis, Our Lady's and Rothwell St Mary's Catholic Primary Schools here in Leeds and Hollingwood Primary School from Bradford. It was brilliant listening to hear these fantastic children sing with such passion, enthusiasm and energy. There’s a huge amount of evidence now from all over the world that singing improves the intelligence and wellbeing of children; it actually helps your brain work better. A lot of research shows that music and singing helps your brain work better, helps your memory work better and simply makes you feel good by releasing endorphins. We all know that in the best schools, the best learning places; places where brilliant learning thrives and children do best at literacy, numeracy and develop wonderful personal learning skills are very often places where there is lots of singing going on and lots of music and arts activity. There's no question about it, and it's what I've known for many years, the arts are one of the keys to releasing the magic in our little learners. So it's 'every child a singer' now!
It was great to meet Steve and talk about the opportunities and challenges we face as we move into this new world. It was a great session which really helped me think about the areas we need to explore and manage as we build the team around the child, the team around the family and most importantly the team around the school as we reinvent, re-imagine and renew what a local authority does here in Leeds. We all know that nothing we do exists in isolation, and to release the magic during our 15% of a child's time, we must powerfully connect with the child's family and the community where the child lives. We need to trust, train, develop and empower communities to take responsibility and work with those communities who we all serve to create a new set of arrangements where real power lies where it belongs. We all know that in localities, where it really matters, our primary schools are at the front line of what we are doing. They reach out into every community across the city, touching and shaping young lives and are already making a real difference. We agreed that we must work together to build a powerful and compelling picture of the future we want where working with the third sector, social enterprise, public companies and voluntering fill the gaps left by local authorities. We agreed that we must continue to focus on developing our primary schools at the heart of these localities where multi-agency teams work and connect with families, the elderly and those who need us most and building on the workforce in our schools to connect with partner agencies to build self-esteem and efficacy, to narrow the gap and to really make a difference where it matters.
It is great to be able to spend time at Carr Manor with Simon and to walk around the school and see the total transformation that has happened under Simon's passionate, dynamic and determined leadership. What has been achieved by the team at Carr Manor is evidence of what is possible with great leadership, a strong and relentless focus on teaching and learning, behaviour and standards, coaching and relationships and an unshakeable belief in what is possible. It was a great session which really helped me think about the areas we need to explore and manage as we build the team around the child, the team around the family and most importantly the team around the school as we reinvent, re-imagine and renew children's services here in Leeds.
We agreed that above all at times like this we need to talk more, to share more, to network more, to celebrate more and to continue to build on the brilliant work we have been doing together to ensure that every child and young person is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes.
They are a great team of colleagues whose work lies at the heart of so much of what we do here at Education Leeds helping to shape our culture which is about coaching, conversations, reflective practice and continuous improvement. We need to ensure that the current political, leadership and budgetary challenges we are all facing don't distract us from our relentless and uncompromising focus on schools, children and outcomes.
I had been asked by my colleague Christine Marsden, who is our curriculum development manager at the education business partnership in our school improvement service, and her colleagues who are developing social enterprises in our schools which meet the needs of local communities and provide real opportunities for our young people to run small businesses. We need to encourage and support our children and young people to be creative, imaginative and entrepreneurial an to give them the skills, attitudes and belief to succeed in the constantly changing world of work.
It was brilliant to see the young people so enthusiastic about their work which included an art gallery, button beads, super saints journal, ration shop, flash 'n' snap, ginger enjoyment, fruit saloon, treatz for you, helping hands and young talent coaches. The young people also had the opportunity to see Oakley Pilotille, one of our Schools Got Talent winners from Farnley Park Maths and computing College, dance and to listen to Sabirul Islam, a young social entrepreneur, motivational speaker and bestselling author. I know Christine will let me know the winners... so watch this space.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
I was invited by my colleague Angela Bernard-Ferguson who works for our brilliant Parent Partnesrhip Service. The event was funded by Children Leeds Aiming Higher for Disabled Children and was co-ordinated by the Parent Partnership Service. It was a brilliant celebration of our work and the teams who work so hard to make a real difference for some of our most special children and their parents and carers.
This was the fourth of these wonderful events I have attended building on the work of the North West SILC Parents Forum in 2007. It was deeply encouraging that we had four times as many parents and carers booked into the event during the day and that the scale and scope of the partnerships on display and the involvement of the statutory, charitable, third sector and voluntary providers had grown and developed since last year.
I was also asked to introduce the choir from the South SILC who sang to us all and were simply brilliant! These events reflect and underline colleagues passion, commitment, energy, enthusiasm and hard work for our special children and their parents and carers. Thanks to Angela and everyone involved for making it such a special and memorable day.
Monday, 14 June 2010
"Hi Chris, We met just before half term at the opening of St Lukes Nursery. I am one of the Leaders at Kidz Klub Leeds and you asked me to send you some information about our charity and the work that we do across inner city Leeds. I have attached our annual report and another report that says a little of what we do. Since both these reports were written we have started a new club in Middleton. Our Thursday night event is held at Middleton Primary and is open to all primary aged children in the area. Each week we visit every child at home, as we do for 1300 other children across the city who attend our other clubs. It's great to be in this new area and the work is being received really positively. In the autumn term we are have been asked by people across the Armley/ Bramley area to launch a club there. We are really looking forward to working with the community and especially the schools in this area. I hope that the information that i have sent is informative and useful. It would be wonderful you could visit us at a club or see some of the work we do in inner city schools. Many thanks Laura."
The Kidz Klub Annual Report highlights the fact that "in the UK today 1 in 3 children live in poverty. That’s 4 million children. In the 5th richest country in the world, that’s a shameful truth. Leeds Central Ward has among the worst proportion of children living in poverty in the UK. Poverty affects the life chances of the children, families and communities of those it comes into contact with. In the areas where Kidz Klub is active rates of crime, unemployment and drug use are high, and aspirations and opportunities are low. This is the daily reality for thousands of children living in inner-city Leeds."
Colin wanted to talk about the relationship Academies here in Leeds have with Education Leeds and we agreed that as we build the new children's services arrangements and the new Academies programme develops this will become an even more important relationship. I am particularly grateful to Colin and his colleagues at the South Leeds Academy who have achieved something quite remarkable over the last four years. Colin's leadership, in particular, has transformed provision as we moved from two failing schools with massive problems of underachievement, low expectations and disaffection to a position where we have a wonderful newly built learning environment where young people are more positive and optimistic and we are close to achieving the Government's magic 30% achieving 5A*-C grades at GCSE including English and mathematics and around 70% achieving 5A*-C grades at GCSE or the equivalent.
The challenge now is to continue to build on this real success story; to build on what Colin and his team have achieved to create the foundations for a really outstanding school to serve this complex community... whatever it takes!
I had been invited to talk to Kathryn Carter, the headteacher at this brilliant little inner city primary school, and Robin Smith, deputy chair of the committee the school has established, about the development of a ground breaking and unique maintained Cathedral Choir School in this little primary school. The brilliant project is hugely ambitious and offers us an opportunity to build something that will bring a real sense of hope about the future to this richly diverse multi-cultural community. Kathryn and her colleagues want to continue to build on the success they have achieved at Holy Rosary and St Anne's Catholic Primary School and use music and singing to reach the parts other initiatives haven't been able to reach.
The South SILC has been transformed since my last visit and Pam and Katie's passion, commitment, determination and hard work has really made an extraordinary difference as evidenced by the recent OFSTED judgements which identified the South SILC as a good school with outstanding features. I was really impressed by the improvements that have been made to the building and the bright, attractive and stimulating learning environment that the team have created despite the real challenges the building presents. It was wonderful to walk around the SILC and meet some of the team and some of the children who are so wonderfully provided for at this brilliant learning place.
The development of the new children's services arrangements provides us with an opportunity to re-imagine, re-engineer and remodel our special needs provision around these SILC centres of excellence. We know that we must continue to further develop the SILCs with strong and dynamic leadership and governance to reach out and connect with partnership provision in mainstream schools across the city based on the outstanding provision we have already established at Windmill Primary School and Rodillian School.
We all recognised that many of these grants were coming to an end next year but the DfE decision to cut our Area Based Grant by over £5 million, a 24% cut this year, means that we must find around £2 million from the Education Leeds managed budgets before the end of this financial year... another huge challenge to us all as we build the new children's services arrangements here in Leeds.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
"Dear Chris, I am delighted to be able to bring you news that, in the Queens Birthday honours announced today, Bob Baird, our Youth Court Manager has been awarded an MBE for services to youth justice in Leeds. Bob has worked for social care settings within Leeds City Council for 25 years, mainly in Youth Justice. Bob has been with Leeds YOS since its inception 10 years ago, and has worked across various teams in our service, including as the manager who set up our Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme, our North area operational team and currently the Court Team. The reason behind the success of Leeds YOS is our staff who consistently go the extra mile to impact on the lives of young people, their families and victims and thereby make Leeds a safer place for all its citizens. Bob Baird epitomises this ethos. Time and time again Bob has gone beyond the call of duty for young people in Leeds. I am sure you will join with me in congratulating Bob on this thoroughly deserved recognition. The Leeds YOS team look forward to hearing about his visit to the palace later in the year. Regards, Jim."
It's great when colleagues who have gone beyond the call of duty and made a real difference for young people are awarded in this way. Congratulations to Bob whose honour reflects the work of the brilliant team he belongs to.