Friday, 9 July 2010

'I'll be your Refuge'
"What crimes, what hurt, what wars have you survived?
What hopes, what dreams were left when you arrived?
I’ll be your refuge, your shelter, your fortress,
I’ll be your champion.
I’ll be your refuge, your pilot, your brother,
your northern star.
I will be your second sight;
the light that guides your way at night.
Don’t be down-hearted.
I’ll be your refuge, I’ll be your refuge,
I’ll be your refuge."

This morning I attended the launch event for the Inner West Family of Schools Stephen Lawrence Education Standard work...

The event took place at the wonderful, new Armley Leisure Centre and was opened by Cllr Jim McKenna, the Lord Mayor, who has given so generously of his time since he was elected as Lord Mayor in May. The morning was a brilliant celebration of these great schools:
  • Armley Primary School;
  • Castleton Primary School;
  • Christ Chuch CE Primary School;
  • Cobden Primary School;
  • Fives Lanes Primary School;
  • Greenhill Primary School;
  • Holy Family RC Primary School;
  • Lawns Park Primary School;
  • Lower Wortley Primary School;
  • Ryecroft Primary School;
  • St Bartholomew's CE Primary School;
  • Whingate Primary School;
  • Farnley Park Maths and Computing College;
  • Swallow Hill Community College.

The audience was entertained with drama, African dance, poetry, a pom pom display, a self-defence display, a rock band, recorders, readings, Indian dance and steel drums. Their wonderful joint choir started the morning with two great songs; 'It's the Climb' and 'I'll be your Refuge' and finished with 'Sometimes in Our Lives' before we all went outside to watch the release of some doves of peace... it was a brilliant morning with some amazing young people and the colleagues who on a day-to-day basis release this magic!


My colleague Gary Lovelace who is headteacher at City of Leeds School, sent me this e-mail...

"Hi Chris, I’ve tended to avoid emailing you/asking for things to be put on your blog because, rightly or wrongly, I’ve wanted to focus on matters in hand at school. However, I’ve just received your letter about our recent OFSTED monitoring visit and would like to thank you for that. I wondered if you might refer to this on your blog? As you will be aware, an OFSTED monitoring judgement is about progress and so essentially our friends have judged that we have improved further since the previous OFSTED.

I’m sure that Helen Pemberton, our SIA, will have told you that, in the verbal feedback, the Lead Inspector referred to leadership and management as on its way to being “good” and improvements in attendance as “impressive”. However, we are not complacent and I still wanted to proceed with our next round of observations in school supported by Helen and after this she reported how noticeable the improvements in teaching and learning in City have been this year.
I also wondered if you might be able to report:-

  • We’ve had our second annual Community Fayre which was wonderfully attended with a range of activities for all ages.
  • That some of our Year 8 students took part in the Hurdles Home Art Project working with Refugee and Asylum Seeker organisations across Leeds producing 5 canvases. 5 Students did presentations about their work to the Lord Mayor at Armley Mills Museum, 70 people at Leeds City Museum and to their Year group in assembly.

  • 3 Year 9 students have set up their own social enterprise called YOOB IT which aims to tackle anti-social behaviour and build community cohesion by building relationships between people of different generations. They have already won Education Leeds Awards for this, including the Education Leeds “Social Enterprise of the Year Award”. On Monday, they presented their business plans to a panel of judges, MPs and business executives at the Palace of Westminster on Monday in the final of the Solutions For The Planet competition and won first prize.

  • At the Leeds Young Authors Poetry Slam, the City of Leeds team won the Award for “Outstanding Performance”.

  • City of Leeds has just been awarded “Healthy Schools” status.

Lastly, when we exchanged letter last year, we agreed that you would come in to City to see the school in action – there’s probably not time now, but it would be great if you could do this in the new academic year? Thanks, Gary."

It was deeply encouraging to read the OFSTED monitoring report which identified the real progress Gary and his colleagues have made. It is also good to read about the Community Fayre, the Hurdles Home Art Project, your Healthy Schools award, the Leeds Young Authors Poetry Slam success and the fantastic news about YOOB IT! As it says on the blog every school I have ever visited has outstanding practice, outstanding colleagues and things worth sharing and it is wonderful that Gary wanted to share and celebrate some of the magic that is happening at City of Leeds.


"We can accomplish almost anything within our ability if we but think we can."
George Matthew Adams

Last night I attended a meeting with governors at Parklands Girls High School...

I had been invited by Clare Cavadino, the Chair of Governors, to talk about the future of the school and how we can continue to work with the governors. It was a constructive, positive and challenging meeting where we discussed the issues we face and the opportunities that lie ahead. What was deeply impressive was a shared and very real passion, commitment and determination to achieve the best possible outcome for the school and its community and to ensure the best possible outcomes for the students.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

I received this wonderful e-mail from Arthur Ivatts which says such a lot about the work we are doing here in Leeds with those groups who need support and encouragement to release their magic and their potential...

"Dear Chris, I just wanted to mark the occasion of the Gypsy RomaTraveller History Month Competition Prize-giving and Achievement Awards Ceremony last Wednesday evening with a word of sincere thanks and appreciation. I would like to thank Peter fSaunders or his kind invitation and I was very pleased to be able to attend with Andrea Smith from the Department for Education, this celebratory and memorable event which was so interesting and at the same time totally absorbing.

Over a number of years now I have been privileged to attend a string of prodigious events in the main chamber of the Leeds City Hall connected in one way or another with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Leeds, the UK, and indeed, now from many other parts of Europe. Needless to say all of these events betray the great success of your Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Achievement Service in that at each and every one of these events the children and young people, together with their communities, are at the centre of the activities and their full participation is characterised by dignity and mutual respect. The confidence of the children and young people is quite inspirational and tells its own story of years of dedicated work with schools, families and communities. The building of trust with marginalised and discriminated against communities is a slow and difficult process and your authority’s long service to this cause is an example of notable success which is recognised both nationally and internationally.

I trust that you will exercise your structure of communications within the education service to ensure that all the many wise and professional helping hands are given the thanks and praise that they all deserve. I have been honoured to have been able on numerous occasions to witness the fruits of all your hard work which was so well exemplified by the wonderfully event last Wednesday evening. With kindest regards. Yours sincerely, Arthur Ivatts."

Arthur sums up what is so special about Education Leeds and its schools. The X-Factor is simply our people, our partnerships and the powerful relationships we have developed based on a culture of respect, understanding and a passionate commitment to see the positives and the potential in everything we do. And most importantly, what we have achieved together is a relentless commitment to real excellence and to always go the extra mile and to make a difference... whatever it takes!
The final session at The Pacific Institute's Company Meeting was a presentation by Matthew Syed who works for The Times newspaper and has written a book called Bounce...

It was another stimulating session Matthew explored the hidden factors which allow the most successful sports stars to rise above their competitors. Matthew was three-time Commonwealth table-tennis champion and in his book he reveals what really lies behind world-beating achievement in sport and other walks of life. The answers Matthew comes up with change the way we look at our sports stars and challenge our ideas about what it takes to become the best; talent versus effort, what kind of practice actually works, pattern recognision and how to achieve in both sport and life. His conclusions are that persistence, determination and hard work are the keys to success. Now where have I heard that before!
At The Pacific Institute Company Meeting I listened to Jack Carney, Vice-Principal at Manchester College, who talked about the Opportunities in Times of Austerity...

Jack talked about the distance the college has travelled over the last five years to become the largest FE college in Europe. He talked about the impact the college is making across the Manchester region and the changing landscape colleges are facing. He also talked about the partnerships the college has established to reach into and work with different sectors: prisons and probation, local authorities, schools and colleges and public and private employers. It was a great session and he highlighted the journey the collerge has made from delusion, division and defensiveness through honesty, partnership and challenge to focus, solidarity and excellence.
We can all learn a great deal from the journey Manchester College has been on!
I have spent the last twenty four hours at The Pacific Institute's Company Meeting at Mottram Hall in Cheshire...

I was there as one of the speakers talking about the Education Leeds story and what we have achieved over the last ten years. I talked about the unique culture we have established and our successes, the outcomes we have achieved together and the challenges we still face. I also talked about the enormous impact of the STEPS programme which is probably the biggest programme of its kind in the country with over 1300 participants accessing over 160 programmes across the city. Feedback on the session was brilliant and everyone was inspired by what we have achieved here in Leeds.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I attended the Inclusion Chatermark Celebration this afternoon...

It was another wonderful celebration of the best of Leeds with some great schools being recognised for the first time for their work on inclusion and some others being re-accredited having continued to see this as a key area for development and focus. We want all the schools in Leeds to be happy, healthy, safe and inclusive places where every child matters and every child is seen as unique and special and extra-ordinary and it's great to see these schools leading the way!

Monday, 5 July 2010

"“Leadership is the process of engaging people in creating a legacy of excellence"... and making a difference."
Tom Peters

The last week has been simply extra-ordinarily busy…

It started on Monday with our amazing primary anti-bullying ambassadors who were having a day together at the Ghandi Building at Leeds Met, after which in the evening I attended the Diploma graduation ceremony at the Civic Hall where we celebrated our first cohort of successful young people who had completed these important new qualifications. On Tuesday I attended the brilliant launch of Robinson House: Carr Manor High School’s fourth house with Jason Robinson; before moving on to the fantastic ‘Be Healthy! Be Creative!’ celebration event at the Ghandi Hall at Leeds Met, finally ending the day at Woodkirk High School for their wonderful summer concert. On Wednesday I visited Ninelands Primary School in Garforth to see their new headteacher, and at the end of the day I attended another Gypsy Roma Traveller achievement celebration at the Civic Hall. On Thursday I managed to fit in another staff induction event at the Derek Fatchett Centre. And then on Friday I attended a special assembly at Hunslet Moor Primary School, a ‘Party on the Park’ at Cross Flatts Park Primary School and the first ever Yorkshire Evening Post ‘Best in School’ Awards 2010; a simply incredible day!

Life is never ever dull in Leeds, and the last week has demonstrated once again the outstanding practice, the incredible young people, and the inspirational colleagues that exist wherever you are prepared to look in this amazing city. To continue to achieve real change and to build real excellence consistently across every school in Leeds, we need to understand and start to shape the world in which we now operate. Change is happening wherever we look at a frightening pace, and all of the organisations we currently know and understand are being completely reinvented as I write. We need to work within the opportunities this presents to begin to build a new schools and learning system for this new world. A learning system to: equip our little learners with the skills they need to be successful bigger learners; to be successful in a world that is increasingly automated; and where the routine, the repetitive and the ordinary will increasingly be done by machine. A learning system where: every little learner is a reader, write and counter by seven or eight, a powerful little learner by the time they leave primary school; and on a pathway to success by the time they leave secondary school. We need to continue to build brilliant learning places with the team around the school supporting the team around the child and the family at the heart of our communities, with strong local engagement and powerful and committed governance. We need to continue to powerfully connect the best of what we all do and use local networks to develop and nurture excellence, and share good practice and great ideas. We need to nurture talent, creativity and imagination wherever we can find it, and we need to share and network the things that work and stop doing those that don’t!