Saturday, 17 July 2010

"We have every reason to look forward into the future with hope and excitement. Fear nothing and no one. Work honestly. Be good, be happy. And remember that each of you is unique, your soul your own, irreplaceable, and individual in the miracle of your mortal frame."
Pearl S. Buck (Walsh): 1892-1973; Nobel Prize laureate

As we approach the last week of yet another year, I realise that this is not simply another year: it's my last full year here in Leeds; and I am therefore really grateful that last week five events captured what is so special about education in Leeds...

I attended the spectacular ACE works at Allerton Church of England Primary School. I often talk about outstanding provision here in Leeds where colleagues are releasing an extraordinary magic, and here again at Allerton Church of England Primary School, Helen Stott, the headteacher; Joy Johnson, the visual arts teacher; and their colleagues are doing something simply breathtaking. I attended the hugely impressive Art Exhibition at Quarry Mount Primary School. My colleague Jackie Twaites, headteacher at Quarry Mount Primary School, had invited me to their 'Image, Music, Text' Art Show 2010 and it was simply brilliant. Jordan in Year 6 showed me round the school, and talked passionately about the art works, their inspiration and the people who had helped the children with the project. It has to be seen to be believed but Andrew Howdle, their teacher, has certainly released an incredible magic with these wonderful young people. I attended the Aberford Church of England Primary School performance of 'Grease' at Garforth Community College. I had been invited by my colleague Jo Heggie, headteacher at this wonderful little school, to the show which was simply incredible for such a small school. The performances the children gave were amazing, the costumes were fabulous, and by the end of the evening everyone was shouting for more. I attended the breakfast club at Carr Manor High School. The breakfast club is seven years old and had won the national Kellogg's Breakfast Club award. The breakfast club team were presented with the award and a big cheque by Fabian Hamilton, the local MP. And finally, David Dickinson, Dirk Gilleard and I attended the headteachers retirement celebration event at the Civic Hall. It was wonderful to spend some time saying thank you to these brilliant colleagues who have dedicated their professional lives to children, families and communities here in Leeds. Their personal files tell such powerful stories of passion, commitment, enthusiasm and hard work amounting to an extraordinary 211 years of headship experience and 522 years of service to children and their families.

This last week simply reinforced the fact that we are doing amazing things: at Allerton Church of Engand Primary School; at Quarry Mount Primary School; at Aberford Church of England Primary School; and at Carr Manor High School, but it's the same everywhere you look here in Leeds. I recognise that things are changing everywhere we look, but whatever the future brings we need to continue to focus our work on building brilliant learning places in localities with strong community engagement and powerful and modern governance. We need to build deep learning in all our learning places to equip our little learners with the functional, personal and social skills they need to be successful bigger learners. We need to continue to powerfully use ICT and 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. I will miss the magic at the end of the Summer term where we celebrate another year, and as children and colleagues reach the end of their time in these incredibly special places led by extraordinary colleagues like Juliet Agar, Tim Bean, Liz Benfield, Roger Bumby, Kathryn Carter, Su Edwards, Alan Key, Bernadette King, Jean Lumb, Alan Scott, Alan Toothill, Jim Vincent, Kay Crellin and Lynne Gillions.

After ten great years here in Leeds, it seems to me that successful organisations, successful schools and successful teams, all have the following characteristics...
  • a vision, values and sense of purpose which shapes the way colleagues behave and helps everyone know they are making a difference;
  • the courage to set challenging goals and to develop new and cutting-edge solutions;
  • an innovative and creative culture that values people and makes them feel special;
  • an innovative and creative culture that trusts, empowers and engages colleagues' distinct and unique talents;
  • a rigorous and relentless approach to evaluating performance and individuals’ contributions;
  • a concern for the wider community and the bigger picture;
  • a reputation for excellence, hard work and passionate commitment; and
    excellent long-term performance.

After all, as Tom Peters said...
"Leadership is the process of engaging people in building the future,
creating a legacy of excellence and making a difference"

... whatever it takes!"

Chris

I received this e-mail from my colleague Rachael Holdgate who is the Centre Manager at the White Rose Learning Centre...

"Dear Chris, having just returned from hosting my 21st Presentation Evening at the White Rose Learning Centre, I really wanted to share what I have just had the privilege to witness. Our end of term celebration was hosted in the usual public domain of the White Rose Shopping Centre and in front of a spectacular audience of approximately 300 people, made up of young people, school staff, colleagues, sponsors, partners, artists, mentors and shoppers! As the evening progressed, the audience grew!

You have attended one of our events in the past and you already know how energetic they are and how the young peoples' enthusiasm is simply contagious. However I can honestly say this was the best one yet! There were smiles all round as young people were congratulated on their achievements and received their goody bags from the White Rose Management. The applause was infectious as talented young people from Bruntcliffe High and Hunslet St Mary's performed live. Our colleagues from schools and clusters remarked on the positive impact our daytime and Study Support provision has had on their most needy of families. Parents comments were of absolute pride in seeing their child receive credit for 100% attendance or performing with confidence in front of an audience. The number of young people, parents and schools asking for more was quite overwhelming.

The complex but successful partnership of our stakeholders from the statutory, corporate and voluntary sectors was evident and very well represented. In particular the support from our hosts, the White Rose Shoppig Centre was above and beyond expectation and very much appreciated. We were joined by the duty manager of the Shopping Centre who was blown away by the attendance and enthusiasm and Guy Harris of Real Radio provided some entertainment whilst praising the young people on their success.

The highlight of the evening was when the Most Outstanding Pupil Award was announced and the winner, Oliver Blackburn (Bruntcliffe High) leapt from his seat and paraded around the stage showing off his prize with pride! This evening captured everything that Study Support and the White Rose Learning Centre stands for: achievement, confidence, engagement, enrichment and pride. It cannot be allowed to stop. Rachael."

Rachael is a talented and outstanding colleagues and her team do a brilliant job at the White Rose Learning Centre. We are blessed here in Leeds to have colleagues and centres like this releasing their magic for young people at the heart of the communities that need us most. Rachael is right that we have to find ways to sutain and further develop our amazing Learning Centres which are making such a difference to children and young people's outcomes, achievement, confidence, engagement, enrichment and pride.

Chris

Over the weekend I received this e-mail from Rob Martin who is the CLC Manager at the North East Leeds City Learning Centre...

Hi Chris, Hope things are well, I for one am beginning to see the perspicaciousness of naming your blog after a Chinese curse :) At the risk of blowing our own trumpet, I think you should know of the excellent work of your colleagues at Leeds City Learning Centres who have last week, 8th & 9th July, hosted the CLC National Conference at the Rose Bowl, Leeds.

The conference, brilliantly compared by Glen Campbell opened with a keynote from Rory Cellan Jones then split for workshops on four distinct tracks; Teaching & Learning, Technology, Open Source and Information. The evening's entertainment was provided, in somewhat of a coup for us, by Peter Bruntnell. Day 2 was dominated by an inspirational keynote from Tim Rylands on the impact of ICT on learning and teaching and the incomparable role the CLCs play in promoting the effective use of ICT.

The blogosphere has responded favourably to our open-source track, with posts on key developer blogs praising our willingness to use the technology and present it to schools as a viable alternative in these interesting and straitened times see Máirín Duffy of redhat post Talking about Inkscape, in Leeds UK, from Boston USA, via Empathy. and Laura Czajkowski of the Ubuntu Women LoCo Team, reflect on the conference. It’s not every day that the work of an Education Leeds team gets syndicated on a blog roll read by the vice-president of Novell! You can get a feel for the range of discussions via the twitter feed #clcs10

I'm sure you will join me in praising all the staff at Leeds City Learning Centres for their passion, commitment, determination, persistence and sheer hard work in putting together a showcase event. Rob."


I have heard from a number of colleagues about this brilliant event which showcased the best of the work at the City Learning Centres. We are blessed here in Leeds to have these centres but more importantly the incredible team who make these centres come alive and release their magic. Thanks to all the colleagues involved in making the two day conference such a brilliant success.
Chris
When I visited Quarry Mount Primary School, as I was walking around the school with Jordan I saw a wonderful piece of writing about William Blake...

I then received this email from Jordan and his teacher Andrew Howdle:
"Dear Chris, thank you for attending the Art Exhibition today. It was really good of you to give up your time for us. Here is the Blake text from our display.

William Blake believed education was out of balance. Too much faith was put in reason. For Blake, the balance included Reason, Emotion, Love and Motion. He called these four balances the Zoas. In one of his early pictures, Blake showed education as an Old Man. The Golden Boy of Reason just sits and copies what he is told. The Silver Girl of Motion, however, raises her hand towards the sky. She points to the wider vision beyond Reason. She questions.

Education obsessed Blake for the whole of his life. He disliked what he called Newton’s “single sight”. He believed in double sight, in seeing life from opposite points of view and making dialogue. For Blake, there was no Good and Evil, God and Devil. Both were necessary for thinking. The Devil, for Blake, was challenge and emotion; God was agreement and reason. Blake anticipated the two sides of the brain: right/creativity and law breaking; left/organisation and law making. Blake believed that energy had to be controlled (chaining the Bad Angel) and obedience had to be broken (freeing the God Angel). Blake’s ideas were in front of his time.


Kindest wishes to you. We will sort out the picture "The Sphinx" for you. It sort of fits...it is all about speaking and spreading messages, exactly what you do. It is about making new sphinx magic! Best wishes, Jordan and Andrew Howdle."

Those of you who know me well know that I love art and while I was at Quarry Mount Primary School Andrew and his class gave me a picture they had produced as a class called 'The Sphinx' and it is fantastic and will have pride of place back at base.
Chris

Friday, 16 July 2010

This afternoon David Dickinson, Dirk Gilleard and I attended the headteachers retirement celebration event at the Civic Hall...

It was wonderful to spend some time saying thank you to these brilliant colleagues who have dedicated their professional lives to children, families and communities here in Leeds. Their personal files tell such powerful stories of passion, commitment, enthusiasm and hard work amounting to an extraordinary 211 years of headship experience and 522 years of service to children and their families. Sadly some colleagues were unable to attend the celebration and we will be ensuring that we thank these colleagues before they leave us.

The colleagues who joined us this afternoon were:

  • Juliet Agar from Farsley Springbank Primary School;
  • Tim Bean from Great Preston CE Primary School;
  • Liz Benfield from Iveson Primary School;
  • Roger Bumby from Poole CE Primary School;
  • Kathryn Carter from Holy Rosary and St Anne's Catholic Primary School;
  • Su Edwards from Raynville Primary School;
  • Alan Key from Abbey Grange CE High School;
  • Bernadette King from Mount St Mary's Catholic High School;
  • Jean Lumb from Ninelands Primary School;
  • Alan Scott from Brownhill Primary School;
  • Alan Toothill from Broadgate Primary School;
  • James Vincent from The Whartons Primary School.
The colleagues who weren't there but whose work we must also recognise:

  • Kay Crellin from Templenewsam Halton Primary School;
  • Liz Talmadge from the Central Leeds Learning Federation;
  • Lynne Gillions from Manston St James CE Primary School.

It was great that Cllr Jane Dowson, Lead Member for Learning and Schools, joined us at the end of the celebration to thank colleagues on behalf of the Council and the people of Leeds. These colleagues have touched lives and changed lives over the last forty odd years and they will all be missed by us all.

Chris

I started the day early at Carr Manor High School's brilliant breakfast club...

The breakfast club is seven years old and had won the national Kellogg's Breakfast Club award. The breakfast club team were presented with the award and a big cheque by Fabian Hamilton the local MP.
With 41 different first languages at the school, the breakfast club has brought together students from many different cultures and backgrounds and created a genuine family atmosphere to start the day. The club has also helped improved attendance and punctuality at the school as well as help develop resilience and anti-bullying approaches. It was great to be able to attend the ceremony with Fabian along with representatives from Kellogg’s and learning charity ContinYou. Kellogg’s Breakfast Club Programme supports around 100 new breakfast clubs every year so if you are interested visit their website at www.kelloggs.co.uk/whatson/breakfastclub/set-up-breakfast-club/
Chris

Thursday, 15 July 2010

This evening I attended Aberford CE Primary School's production of 'Grease' at Garforth Community College...

I had been invited by my colleague Jo Heggie, headteacher at this wonderful little school, to the show which was simply incredible for such a small school. The performances the children gave were amazing and the costumes were fabulous. Miss Tracey, Miss Gosling and Mrs Briggs' direction, choreography and production achieved something really remarkable and by the end of the evening everyone was shouting for more. A really wonderful evening at the end of a simply great year here in Leeds.
Chris
I visited another one of my favourite schools this afternoon...

My colleague Jackie Twaites, headteacher at Quarry Mount Primary School, had invited to their 'Image, Music, Text' Art Show 2010 and it was simply brilliant. The art work was fantastic and the journey the children in Year 5 and 6 had been on to produce such extraordinary work was amazing... their understanding, knowledge and experience developed through this creative project was unbelievable! Jordan in Year 6 showed me round the school and talked passionately about the art works, their inspiration and the people who had helped the children with the project. It has to be seen to be believed but Andrew Howdle, their teacher, has certainly released an incredible magic with these wonderful young people.
Chris
I was looking at the videocast on InfoBase today and although the messages about 21st Century Schools are past their sell by date the underlying message is the same...


video

No one can do this on their own.

The future is about partnership, collaboration and we must all THINK TEAM!

Chris

My colleague Kes Sowerby who is the manager of the Leeds United Learning Zone and the Hunslet Hawks Learning Centre sent me this e-mail...

"Chris, there was an article about the Leeds United Learning Zone outstanding pupil Vytautus Vaznys from Hugh Gaitskell Primary School in today's Yorkshire Evening Post. Vytautus, who has made outstanding progress through attending study support programmes at Hunslet Hawks Learning Centre and Leeds United Learning Zone, is pictured with the Lord Mayor, Cllr Jim McKenna, Carla Cantrell of Leeds Ladies, Lucas the Kop Kat and ex Leeds United FC skipper Brendan Ormsby.

The Lord Mayor was very supportive of the event, giving a great speech and asking for the opportunity to come down and work with pupils in the Learning Zone.
Kind Regards, Kes."

Kes and the team do a brilliant job as part of the fantastic 'Playing for Success' team who have made an incredible difference here in Leeds. Together with the other elements of our study support programme these colleagues are changing lives and reaching some of our young people who are in danger of disengaging with learning. The impact of these wonderful programmes is celebrated at each of our termly celebrations and our research shows that the literacy, numeracy and ICT gains for young people on these programmes is fantastic. It is important that we remember that our schools don't exist in isolation and to build brilliant provision and brilliant outcomes for all our children and young people we must carefully consider the bigger picture and refocus our energy and efforts to develop the team around the school to powerfully reach the child, the family and the community... and THINK TEAM!
Chris
The last couple of days have been full of meetings...

However, this morning during a quiet moment, waiting for colleagues whose trains have been delayed, I visited the EVOLVE website at http://www.evolveleeds.org.uk/ to look at some of our wonderful butterfly collection. These little snippets provide us with a window to view the magic colleagues are releasing in their classrooms. It is great to be able to watch some of the brilliant things our talented colleagues are doing in schools and centres across the city on this amazing website. If you haven't visited you've missed out on another area where Education Leeds and its partners are doing some extraordinary work.

My favourites from my visit were:
  • Pudsey Waterloo Primary School's Foundation Stage ICT;
  • Harewood Primary Schools's Blogging;
  • Alwoodley Primary School's Learning Experience;
  • Temple Moor High School's Design Technology;
  • Whitecote Primary School's Multi-media History.

BRILLIANT!
Chris

Monday, 12 July 2010

This evening I went to ACE Works; an art exhibition to show the creativity of the young people of Allerton Church of England Primary School and it was simply incredible...

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep."
Scott Adams
This was the school's first ever Arts Exhibition with eight incredible zones containing some unbelievable work combining art with ICT, composing music, silk screen work, a wallpaper exhibition, pastel and batik work, sketch books to die for and work inspired by Gustav Klimt and Sean Scully. The evening programme contained performances by Leeds Chinese Community School Dancers, Street Dancers, Guitar Group, PACE Dancers and performance poetry. Food and drink was provided by CREATE; an award winning social enterprise committed to providing innovative training and employment opportunities for people who have been homeless, marginalised or vulnerable to help them rebuild their lives with a hand up, not a hand out!
I often talk about outstanding provision here in Leeds where colleagues are releasing an extraordinary magic and here again at Allerton CE Primary School, Helen Stott, the headteacher, Joy Johnson, the visual arts teacher, and their colleagues are doing something simply breathtaking. Picasso said that every child is born an artist; visit Allerton CE Primary School this week and you'll see the proof! You can also visit their amazing website at www.allertonceprimary.com.
Chris
My colleague Cathy Morgan, Strategic Education Development Manager for RM Education, sent me this e-mail about the brilliant EVOLVE 2010 Celebrating Success in Leeds conference last week...



"Hello there Chris, I hope you are well & life is not too hectic. We had over 120 delegates at our 2010 Celebrating Success in Leeds last Wednesday so I thought I’d cheer you up with some positive news. It was a spectacular event & the feedback is amazing given the current climate where are few people receiving positive praise from schools. We are finalising the evaluation report but we know that 100% of delegates were satisfied, with 76% awarding grade 1 for the event as a whole – that’s ‘outstanding’ in my old language!

We broke with tradition and allowed mobile phones and games machines to be used by all – to promote the use of ‘Twitter’ and Augmented Reality. We demonstrated the latest Evolve site :
http://www.evolveleeds.org.uk/ and the statistics which show the international interest being shown in our wonderful butterfly collection. Stephen Heppell & Till Wright presented prizes to our e-safety competition winners and also awarded Swallow Hill Community College their EPICT ‘Whole School E-safety Awareness Certificate’ – the first in the Country!

We all had a brilliant day and have already booked Mr Heppell for the 2011 event on 6th July at the Met Hotel when our ‘Imaginarium’ will be even bigger! Best wishes Cathy."


We are incredibly lucky to have developed the relationship with RM which has brought enormous benefits to Leeds schools. Cathy and her colleagues have brought energy, enthusiasm and commitment and are adding real value to our work to build brilliant... whatever it takes!
Chris
Last week I also visited another great school in South Leeds...

I had been invited to Cross Flatts Park Primary Schools' 'Party on the Park' which celebrated another great year of working together for the success of the community the school serves so well and the launch of their work to achieve the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard. It was really wonderful to share in their celebrations and to listen to the children singing 'You can get it if you really want', 'Fly the Flag' the World Cup anthem and 'Something Inside So Strong'. It was great to see the enthusiasm and energy, the passion and commitment and the difference these colleagues are making working with families and the community.
Chris
Last week I started the day at one of my favourite schools...

My colleague Narinder Gill, headteacher at Hunslet Moor Primary School, had invited me to their special assembly focusing on sustainability and global issues linked to our Green Day celebrations last week. The school's Eco Council gave me a recycled bag full of goodies which had the following message on the front...

Taking Small Steps to Greater Things
We should live our lives on this planet by
following the secret to making perfect footprints in sand...
Tread lightly, taking every step with care,
leave your imprint without any lasting damage.
The assembly was brilliant the choir sang a Joni Mitchell song, we had an amazing 'recycle, reuse and renew' scrap fashion show and everyone sang the world cup anthem 'Fly your Flag' which was fantastic. This is a great school and the assembly simply showed the potential, the magic and what a great job the team at Hunslet Moor are doing in their community. The children gave me this fabulous picture which I now have hanging on the wall in my room with its' message that 'education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'.

Brilliant!
Chris
This morning I caught up with Richard Harker over a cup of coffee...
It was great to see Richard again after he sadly lost his seat at the local elections in May. We had met briefly at Carr Manor High Schools's launch of the Robinson House and we agreed to meet and catch up over coffee. Richard is a governor at Leeds Trinity University College so he is still actively involved in education and learning and still making a difference. I wanted to meet up with Richard to thank him for his leadership and support over the last six great years where Education Leeds on behalf of Leeds City Council, and working in partnership with schools across the city, has transformed outcomes and rebuilt and remodelled a huge amount of the school estate through PfI, BSF and our traditional capital programme. We all owe Richard a debt of gratitude for his knowledge, understanding and experience which helped us create a learning landscape to be proud of here in Leeds.
Chris

Sunday, 11 July 2010

It was a week where it would have helped if there were two or three of me...

During the last week I attended the usual mix of meetings, and managed to attend some of the important things that always cluster together at the end of Summer terms. I met with a small group of our outstanding primary schools with Dirk Gilleard to talk about the Academies Bill, with the governing body at Parklands Girls High School to talk about our proposals and the important next steps for the school. I attended two fantastic events: the Inclusion Chartermark awards ceremony, another wonderful celebration of our work on inclusion; and the Inner West family of schools launch of their work towards the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard, a powerful statement of their shared commitment to tackling racism, intolerance, bullying and indifference; and building together respect, understanding and partnership. The power and impact of these events shouldn't ever be underestimated with children performing together, showing the power of team work, and demonstrating again and again what we can achieve through passion, commitment, determination, persistence and sheer hard work.

Sadly, I also missed some great events and important milestones which other colleagues tried to manage on my behalf. This included the launch of our PSE and Citizenship toolkit, Shadwell Primary School's fashion show, the RM 'Evolve' celebrating success conference with Stephen Hepple, the Leeds secondary headteachers conference, headteachers' forum, the Children Leeds learning partnership, the National Strategies secondary conference, and the retirement celebrations for Kay Crellin who has been headteacher at Templenewsam Halton Primary School for the last twenty five years and started her teaching career in 1960!

This is my tenth end-of-the-year here in Leeds, and through ten long years of purposeful practice I have built up a deep respect and understanding for what it takes to achieve great things here in Leeds. During the week, I was away for 24 hours at a conference where I talked about the Education Leeds story and the impact of our work in schools and the communities we serve. I also had the opportunity to listen to Jack Carney, vice-principal at Manchester College, who talked about the journey the college has been on over the last few years as it developed into the largest FE college in Europe. I also met Matthew Syed who talked about his new book 'Bounce'. Matthew now works for The Times but 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. His conclusions are that persistence, determination and hard work are the keys to success. Now where have I heard that before!

We can sometimes forget the extra-ordinary journey we have been on together over the last ten years, and more importantly what that incredible journey from one of the worst education teams in the country to one of the best has taught us. These are the things I have learned:
  • leadership matters;
  • enthusiasm is contagious;
  • small is beautiful;
  • relationships are key;
  • passion is paramount;
  • coaching really counts;
  • persistence and determination go a long way;
  • hard work and practice can achieve almost anything; and
  • you tend to get what you expect.

This job we do is too important for any of us to be ordinary, and I don't really understand why anyone would settle for satisfactory when you can be outstanding. OK, satisfactory is easy, predictable and anyone can do it... well almost anyone! At the end of yet another great year in Leeds, I really wonder why we settle for things that are just good enough when with a bit of energy and effort we can be outstanding. We must all set new goals and to strive, work and struggle, each and every day, to be extraordinary, to be outstanding, to be brilliant.

Chris