Friday, 10 September 2010

I often struggle to understand why our collective experience, knowledge and intelligence hasn't sorted out so many of the problems we face as a society...

I was reminded today about the 80:20 rule as we struggle to understand how we manage the challenges that lie ahead with the spending review. In case you don't know what I am talking about, in 1906, the Italian economist Pareto noticed that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the people. He went on to notice that this rule seemed to apply to all sorts of other things. This concept is known as the "Pareto Principle," or the "The 80:20 Rule."

People tell me that wherever you look the 80:20 rule applies, so how do we use the 80/20 rule to refine, focus and develop our work where we have the most impact and effect. If we are facing such large reductions in the budget, can we strip out the bits that are the most unproductive. We clearly need to focus our energies and efforts on the things that really make a difference and eradicate the irrelevant, the obsolete and the things that simply get in the way. Can the 80:20 Rule help? Why not:
  1. Pick an area of your work where you feel there is an opportunity to strip out and refocus.
  2. Try identifying the activities that are having the most impact on outcomes.
  3. Find ways to spend more time on these activities.
  4. Find ways to eliminate the other things that are getting in the way.
We all need to think about how we streamline our work to focus on the things that really make a difference and create intelligent systems and brilliant teams around our wonderful learning places. Intelligent systems that reinforce and support a culture based on trust, respect, equality, inclusion and excellence. Brilliant teams that are passionate, committed and determined to make a difference for every child and particularly those who need us most.

Reading through the history and Pareto's work he also suggested that human beings are not, for the most part, motivated by logic and reason but by sentiment which explains a lot!
After lunch I visited Seven Hills Primary School in Morley...

I had been invited by my colleague Pauline Potter, headteacher at this great little school, to their 'Investors in Pupils' party to celebrate their success in achieving this brilliant standard. Everyone had made a mask and the party was outside where, despite a forecast of light rain, the sun shone. The celebration was attended by the Mayor of Morley, Councillor Paul Cook, who has already been incredibly supportive of the Morley schools during his term of office. We were entertained by the steel pans of the Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows who were great before each year group did a brief performance which after only one week back at school was brilliant. The passion, enthusiasm and ability amongst the staff team was incredible to watch as they encouraged and sang and danced with their classes of wonderful little people.

Pauline has achieved something really special over the last three years at Seven Hill Primary School. The school is popular and over subscribed, the building has been transformed and the results are good and improving. More importantly there is a real warmth, a real energy and a culture of creativity, innovation and excellence nurtured through Pauline's strong and highly effective leadership. This is a school where the team are releasing the magic and it was on show there this afternoon for anyone who was prepared to look.
I attended a special meeting of Cabinet and Corporate Leadership Team this morning...

The meeting had been arranged to look at the progress we have been making with the new arrangements for Children's Services here in Leeds. The real success has been the acceptance that the new arrangements should build a framework of support connected to the team around the school. The elected members were very supportive of the further development of the role of schools understanding that they are the front line of Children's Services and critically important if we are to better manage the referrals and the pressure colleagues in social care are facing. The further development of the team around the family through the extended services clusters to create well-being teams to sit alongside child protection teams was also welcomed by members. The final piece of the jigsaw was the development of holistic multi-agency looked after children teams and teams working with children with special educational needs, disabilities and complex needs.

This work has come together powerfully since the Summer through some incredible work involving colleagues across Education Leeds, Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, NHS Leeds and headteachers. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues and the colleagues from schools whose passion, commitment and determination is beginning to provide us all with a framework to build on the best of the existing practice in early years, youth, social care and Education Leeds.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

This afternoon I attended our Leadership Forum meeting at the Shine centre on Harehills Lane...
It was wonderful to spend time with this great group of colleagues after the Summer break and congratulate them on everything we have achieved over the last year and the last ten years. Here at Education Leeds, we have created a unique, award-winning organisation and together with colleagues in schools we have created an educational landscape which has achieved great things and every internal, external and impartial assessment and inspection carried out recently, including the latest OFSTED Inspection of Safeguarding and Looked-after Children, has recognised our success, the relationships we have built and the outcomes we have achieved for children and young people.

We have had a fantastic year here in Leeds and I would want to thank those colleagues, partners and friends who have made it such a pleasure for us: the colleagues and the wonderful young people in schools I have visited and my colleagues within Education Leeds who have made leading Education Leeds such a privilege. You have helped me recognise and celebrate the enormous potential we have here in Leeds where at its best we are truly brilliant. Schools and colleagues have on so many occasions this year and over the last ten wonderful years released the magic and this has enriched my life and given me such pleasure.

Over the last ten years we have achieved so much; we have transformed the learning landscape and the learning environment here in Leeds and achieved some incredible outcomes for our children and young people and their families and communities. Together, we have released the talent, magic and potential in so many of our children and young people, in our colleagues and in our schools… but we can never be complacent because, as always, there is much more to do!

My Highlights

We have recruited some great colleagues this year and colleagues have gone the extra mile and some over the last year... just read the blog to see who the real heroes are!

Everything we do together critically depends on people and partnerships and in Leeds these are going from strength to strength. Partnerships with:
Primary Partnerships;
Secondary Partnerships and Federations;
Inclusion Partnerships;
West Yorkshire Police;
Colleagues in Health;
Voluntary and Community partners;
Faith partners;
The Chamber of Commerce;
……..and many more!

Everything we do together critically depends on people and relationships and in Leeds these are going from strength to strength. Relationships with:
Headteacher Forum;
Governor Forum;
Families of Schools;
Schools Forum;
Children’s Services;
Leeds City Council;
……..and many more!

This has been an incredible year in terms of outcomes and impact and we are beginning to see real progress in some of our stubborn and difficult areas.
Further improvements in Foundation Stage outcomes;
Improved Key Stage 2 outcomes across the board with a reduction in the number of schools below the floor target from 34 to 25;
Further improvements in Key Stage 3 outcomes;
Significant improvements in Key Stage 4 outcomes with a reduction in the number of schools below the 2011 floor target to three;
Improved Key Stage 5 outcomes;
Best attendance ever but persistent absence remains a significant challenge;
Reduced fixed term exclusions with permanent exclusions remaining low;
……..and much, much more!

Learning Environments
This year has seen the next phase of the most ambitious school building programme in Leeds since the Victorian age which has over the last ten years involved the closure of 17 primary schools, six high schools and the complete rationalisation of the special school estate along with the construction, rebuilding, remodelling and improvement to 27 primary schools and 21 high schools. This year’s highlights include:
Development of the Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres;
Official Opening of the West Oaks Interactive Zone;
Official Opening of the Leeds Children’s Hospital Learning Zone;
Official Opening of Pudsey Grangefield School;
Official Opening of Rodillian School by Ed Balls, Secretary of State;
Opening of Allerton Grange School;
Opening of Swallow Hill Community College;
Opening of South Leeds Academy;
Opening of Leeds West Academy;
Opening of Cockburn College remodelled buildings;
Opening of Temple Moor High School remodelled buildings;
Opening of Crawshaw School remodelled buildings;
Cutting the Sod Ceremony at Leeds West Academy by Ed Balls, Secretary of State;
Primary Capital Programme work on Bankside Primary School,
Primary Capital Programme work agreed for Richmond Hill Primary School; Greenhill Primary School; Gildersome Primary School; Saints Peter and Paul RC Primary School; Oulton Primary School and Swillington Primary School.
Official Opening of the Early Years Extension at Hill Top Primary School
……..and much, much more!

Conferences and Celebrations
Once again this year we have been fortunate to experience some incredible events here in Leeds which have made a real difference to our culture, our systems and our practice and challenged us to achieve even more.
‘Be the Best You Can Be’ Support Staff Conference;
‘Building Our Brilliant Best’ Conference;
‘Learning Landscapes’ School Improvement Conference;
‘Stepping Stones’ Looked After Children Celebrations;
Attendance Champions;
Be Healthy! Be Creative! Challenge Celebration;
City Learning Centre National Conference;
DCSF ‘Stephen Lawrence Education Standard’ Launch Conference;
Education Leeds Annual Lecture;
Extended Services Conference;
Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month Celebrations;
Gypsy Roma Traveller Prize Giving and Achievement Award Ceremony;
Headteacher Retirement Celebration;
Healthy Schools and Well-being Celebration;
Healthy Schools Enhancement Model Regional Launch Conference;
Higher Level Teaching Assistant Celebrations;
Inclusion Chartermark Celebration;
Inclusion Chartermark Celebration;
Leading and Managing Change Conference
Learning Outside the Classroom Conference;
Leeds Governors Conference;
Leeds Mentoring Celebrations;
Long Service Awards;
Looked After Children Celebration;
Newly Appointed Primary Headteachers Conference;
Parent Support Adviser Conference;
Primary African Caribbean Excellence/Black Children’s Achievement Programme Celebration;
Primary Headteachers ‘New Curriculum’ Conference;
Primary Newly Qualified Teachers Conference;
Progression to Post-16 and Higher Education in Inner South Leeds Conference;
RM/EL EVOLVE Celebrating Success in Leeds Conference;
RM/EL EVOLVE Transforming Technology Conference;
Secondary Newly Qualified Teachers Conference;
Show Racism the Red Card;
Social Enterprise ‘Flying Higher’ Showcase and Celebration;
Stephen Lawrence Education Standard Celebration;
Supplementary Schools Celebration;
The ‘Power to Change’ Conference;
……..and much, much more!

Innovations, Initiatives and Publications
The future is about creativity, imagination and talent and we have seen some really significant innovations this year.
‘Speak Out’ publication for School Councils;
Artforms ‘Drawing Across the Curriculum’ initiative;
Children’s Voices ‘What we want from the Primary Curriculum’ publication
Developing Your Playground: ‘Time to Play’ publication;;
Early Years Gypsy Roma Traveller ‘Building Futures, Developing Trust’ publication;
European Union Funding for successful bids for Comenius Regio Projects linking Leeds with schools in Spain, Nykoping and Stockholm in Sweden;
First Diploma Graduation Ceremony;
First Yorkshire Evening Post ‘Best in School’ Awards
Leeds Children’s University established;
Leeds EVOLVE website developed;
Shortage Subjects Trainee Teachers Recruitment event;
Three Cities project linking Leeds with Stockholm and Helsinki to develop leadership and partnerships between schools;
Willow Young Carers DVD launched;
…….and much, much more!

We can get bogged down by the problems and the issues but we have had some really fantastic successes this year.
‘Investing in Diversity’ Leadership Programme;
‘Schools Got Talent’ competition;
‘Spirit Alive’ our school based mini-olympics initiative;
‘The Power of Me’ anti-bullying initiative;
11 Million Takeover Day;
95% of schools achieved Healthy Schools status;
96% of schools are now delivering the full extended services core offer;
Anti-bullying Ambassadors;
Another 61 schools achieved the Inclusion Chartermark;
Another 75 schools are working on the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard;
Independent Travel project at Leeds City College;
North of England Education Conference coming to Leeds in 2012;
Otley Schools Anti-Racism Charter launch;
Special Educational Needs Market Place event;
Stephen Lawrence Education Standard Faith Cluster launch;
Sustainable Schools initiative;
We exceeded our Participation in School Sport and Activity targets;
……..and much, much more!

Awards and Recognition
We can get overwhelmed by the challenges but we have had some really wonderful awards and recognition this year.
‘Out of Bounds’ film about the lives of some of our young people with disabilities won the MediaBox Impact Award at the First Light Film Awards;
‘Spirit Alive’ awarded ‘Inspire Mark’ as part of the London 2012 programme;
Artforms Music Service judged outstanding in its national DSCF supported inspection;
British Council ‘Link2Learn’ Awards for Cookridge Primary School, Bramley Primary School and Brigshaw High School;
Deaf and Hearing Impaired Service recognised nationally as a model of excellent practice;
Visually Impaired Service was awarded the regional Quality Mark for Visually Impaired Services;
Visually Impaired Service re-awarded the contract for supporting British Forces schools in Europe;
Education Leeds nominated and shortlisted for the Collaboration and Partnership Award at the Widening the Talent Pool Race for Equality Awards;
Education Leeds nominated for seven awards at the Local Government ‘Making a Difference Awards’ achieving two highly commended and our Visually Impaired Team winning the Outstanding Contribution Award;
Education Leeds reaccredited for its work on Environmental Management And Sustainability;
Education Leeds reaccredited for the Customer Service Excellence standard;
Eight colleagues nominated for the Leeds City Council Excellence Awards;
Food for Life Partnership Awards for Middleton Primary School and Pudsey Primrose Hill Primary School;
Groundwork Green Check Awards for The Whartons Primary School, Calverley CE Primary School and Park Spring Primary School;
Leeds BSF scheme nominated for three national awards;
Leeds Education Business Partnership achieved the Education Business Excellence Award;
Leeds Mentoring one of only ten mentoring services achieving the new quality standard;
Leeds Parent Partnership Service reaccredited with the Cabinet Office Chartermark;
Local Government Social Enterprise Award for Bruntcliffe High School;
Pudsey Grangefield School won one of the Leeds Architecture Awards;
Teaching Awards for colleagues at Farsley Farfield Primary School and Austhorpe Primary School;
Education Leeds recognised as one of the Times 100 ‘Best Places to Work in the Public Sector’;
……..and much, much more!

My Lowlights

All the colleagues we have lost.

The outcome of the unannounced and announced inspections of Children’s Services.
The decision to end the Education Leeds contract.

Schools Still needing intensive support
City of Leeds School;
Primrose High School;
Parklands Girls High School;
Swallow Hill Community College.

Trying to move too fast;
Trying to do too much;
Not listening well enough.

The Remaining Challenges
The budget;
The changing schools landscape;
Implications of the growing child population;
Raising the attainment and achievement of children on free school meals;
Managing the most complex and challenging behaviour;
Reducing the number of young people who are NEET;
Tackling obesity;
Tackling sexual health problems and reducing teenage conceptions;
Creating the future arrangements.

The key messages at the end of what was a great afternoon were;

  • Be determined, persistent and work hard;
  • Be positive, optimistic and enthusiastic;
  • Carry on with the day job;
  • Keep calm and carry on!
  • Remember who we all work for... the children and young people of Leeds!
  • Look after yourself and your colleagues;
  • Smile, laugh and get some exercise;
  • Keep the faith!


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

I found out this week about Lucy Cheseldine, a student from Cardinal Heenan and Notre Dame, who has written a blog for Guardian Leeds about becoming a writer and gaining work experience...

Colleagues tell me that Lucy is an amazing student who has produced and written a series of blogs for Radiowaves’ LsLive (supported by Find Your Talent). She has also been an active member of Leeds Young People’s Film Festival and did work experience at Mediafish. Lucy has got a place at Glasgow University studying English Literature and will be heading off to start her degree at the end of this week. The Guardian have said that she has already had 500 hits on her Guardian blog and colleagues would like to generate more for her if at all possible. Guardian Leeds have mentioned that they would like to give Lucy a chance to write more blogs off the back of this piece, so anything we can do to help from our end to give her an ‘extra push’ would be most appreciated. If you want to visit Lucy’s blog you can find it at


Over the last few weeks a great team of colleagues have all contributed in some way to help the Education Leeds reception to maintain high levels of customer service over the summer break and at the start of school year one of our busiest and most challenging times...

As you know, Education Leeds is about excellence and Sam Pullan, Ben Foley, Lindsey Crossfield, Jane Elliott, Jinan Mussa, Louise Montgomery, Tina Brown, Camille Wilkinson, Zuki Savage, Shakeela Iqbal, James Mason, Althea Brown, Jenny Marshall, Tracy Waud, Misbah Akbar, Tracey Daysh, Carol Armitage, Sarah Dickinson, Rebecca Radford, Linda Seal, Mari Connolly, Margaret Dalby and Emma Mayhall have demonstrated what we are about and how our shared commitment, determination and hard work as a team delivers time and again.

These colleagues have helped and supported and always been willing to lend a hand. Education Leeds is an extraordinary organisation because of brilliant colleagues like these.
In case you have forgotten this important message...

“If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don't! If you want to win, but think you can't, It's almost a cinch you won't. If you think you'll lose, you're lost; For out in the world we find success begins with a fellow's will; It's all in the state of the mind. Life's battles don't always go to the strongest and the fastest, But sooner or later the colleague who wins Is the colleague who thinks they can.”

While all around you people are losing theirs, make sure that you keep the faith!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

I moved on to Blenheim...

And once again it hits you when you spend time with colleagues what an incredible organisation we have built together and what talent we have in our teams; whether its the Deaf and Hearing Impaired team, the Visually Impaired team, the Psychology team, the Parent Partnership team, the Teenage Pregancy team, whatever. These colleagues have achieved great things over the last ten years and it's important to continue to tell our stories and celebrate our achievments but also to recognise that there is more to do here in Leeds to ensure that every child achieves their potential and is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful. Whatever the future holds the new learning and children's landscape will need passionate, committed and determined colleagues woking with the children, young people and families who need us most to continue to release their magic.


I started the day at Elmete...

As always you realise when you spend time with colleagues what an incredible organisation we have built together and what talent we have in our teams; whether its the Extended Services team, the Secondary Advisers, the Health Initiatives team, the Leeds Mentoring team, the Stepping Stones team, whatever. They say that when the going gets tough the tough get going so it's important to continue to tell our stories and celebrate our achievments but also to recognise that there is more to do here in Leeds to ensure that every child achieves their potential and is happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful. Whatever the future holds the new learning and children's landscape will need passionate, committed and determined colleagues to continue to release the magic.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Culture is 'the way we do things around here'. It surrounds us all and defines leadership...

As we face the changes ahead we need to understand how culture is created, embedded, developed, manipulated, managed, and changed. Importantly you must understand the culture to understand the organization.



"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have,
and only you can determine how it will be spent.

Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."

Carl Sandburg

We all know that if we want to build brilliant provision and a culture of real excellence; to create passionate learning in brilliant learning places, we must continue to develop personalisation, ownership, engagement, coaching and trust. We must also create a more inspiring, professional and powerful approach to leadership which will drive strategic planning, commissioning and drive up standards.

We must work with our colleagues, our young people and our families to develop high self-esteem and belief. We must get them to help us shape and focus the offer and to engage them as passionate learners.

We have to understand and believe that intelligence is hugely and richly diverse and that everyone is intelligent and it is simply our job as educators to find it! We have to develop three things in our children, our young people, our families, our communities and our workforce:

  • creativity
  • capability
  • confidence

We also need to develop real partnerships and get everyone to understand that this is a community enterprise, a social enterprise and an incredible opportunity. As Dirk would say we must focus on developing a more vivid, more personal, more engaging, more stimulating provision and practice.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A huge thank you to everyone who bought raffle tickets and supported the Pledge for Pakistan appeal. Together we have raised a fantastic total of £3,038.92 for the children and families of Pakistan...

Some very lucky colleagues won some incredible prizes in the raffle which alone raise over £1500. We were delighted that the Kaiser Chiefs and the Pigeon Detectives were so generous along with many others. The drum skin from the Kaiser Chiefs and the back issue from the Pigeon Detectives were great prizes and will have made someone very happy this weekend.

I am particularly grateful to the Lord Mayor who came to my office to draw the raffle. I hope that this will be the first of many collections and ideas to raise money for the Pakistan relief victims who have lost so much having had so little to start with.