Thursday, 30 June 2011

Strength and Perseverance!

"There are but two roads that lead to an important goal and to the doing of great things: 
strength and perseverance. Strength is the lot of but a few privileged people, 
but austere perseverance, harsh and continuous, may be employed by the smallest of us."

Leeds Children's University!

I was at the David Young Community Academy this morning to meet with colleagues to talk anout how we develop and secure the future of the Leeds Children's University.


Our key job over the next few months and years must be to ensure that we are totally focused on outcomes that build academic, vocational and learning excellence.
"A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world."

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Practice, Practice, Practice!

I have been through some interesting times recently and unable to sleep spent some time reflecting on the huge challenges we are facing; the rapidly changing learning landscape, the unprecedented and continuous change to everything that provided stability and certainty over the past decade, the enormous budget challenges and the lack of certainty, clarity or any coherent vision for the future of learning.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Watch. Practice. Learn almost anything—for free!

Too many people around the world don’t have access to good education materials, or they are forced to learn through a system that doesn't properly cater to their individual needs. The Khan Academy are a small team trying their best to improve the way the world learns.

School of One!

"School of One is a pioneer in the emerging field of customized learning. It redesigns the classroom to integrate multiple “modalities” of instruction – live teacher-led lessons, software-based lessons, collaborative activities, virtual tutors, and individual practice – into the same learning space. The design allows School of One to effectively differentiate instruction based on each student’s unique needs and learning styles.

It's not impossible!

"If you flip the problem around, what we've got here is untapped potential. If we can unlock that, if we can find out what the barriers to learning are and, above all, we are good enough – we have a chance to turn it around. It's definitely a challenge, but it's not impossible."
Ian Johnson, Principal
Marlowe Academy

OFSTED Report on School Sports Partnerships!

School Sports Partnerships have achieved great things across the country and I know personally from the work they did in Leeds that the coordinated, collaborative approach developed within the school networks served by these partnerships has a major impact not only on sports development and health and well-being but on self-esteem, personal and social development and achievement generally. The School Sports Partnerships clearly demonstrate the power of collaborative, cooperative team working between families or clusters of schools. Everyone should read the new OFSTED report on School Sports Partnerships which validates the success of this brilliant initiative.
Leading experts like Sir Michael Barber and organizations like the OECD and McKinsey, have shown us time and again that the top performing nations have several key attributes in common:
  • First, they value and respect their teachers and employ the very best people in their classrooms;
  • Second, they step back and let schools get on with it, free from bureaucratic control;
  • Third, they encourage collaboration between schools; and
  • Fourth, they hold schools to account in an intelligent way."
Nick Gibb MP,  Schools Minister

Problems, Problems!

"Have you got a problem? Do what you can where you are with what you've got."
Theodore Roosevelt

"How you think about a problem is more important than the problem itself - so always think positively."
Norman Vincent Peale

Monday, 27 June 2011

Some Wise Advice from Sir Tim Brighouse!

Assuming you cannot resist, there are five dos and don’ts.

My colleague and friend Sir Tim Brighouse offers us all some wise advice as we struggle to come to terms with the new learning landscape of Academies and Free Schools and the changes to almost every aspect of the learning infrastructure in the search for excellence!

"Assuming you cannot resist, there are five dos and don’ts...
"Be passionate, and take responsibility for each other.
If we only learned those lessons,
the world would be so much better a place."
Morrie Schwartz

Saturday, 25 June 2011

"Vision without action is a dream.
Action without vision is simply passing the time.
Action with Vision is making a positive difference."
Joel Barker

Friday, 24 June 2011

Persistence, determination, commitment, passion, practice, focus and hard work!.

If you're one of those people looking for the quick fix, the magic solution to success.

Temple Moor High School Science College!

I attended the official opening of the new buildings at Temple Moor High School Science College yesterday and it was great to see the new buildings and to see old colleagues and friends who have contributed to the journey the school has been on over the last few years.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." 
Calvin Coolidge

Whenever you feel like giving up, like throwing in the towel, think of these words. However tough things are you just have to 'press on' even if it is just one step at a time. You can achieve success and reach your goals with persistence, determination and hard work. When things get really tough, take a break, count to ten, take deep breaths but whatever you do never ever give up!

The impact of testing on learning and motivation!

The Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre) is part of the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education, University of London and they have produced some hugely important research about the impact of testing on learning and motivation.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

'Resilient Students'!

I found this really important piece on the OECD Blog talking about the important research around 'resilient' children from the PISA research. Our challenge is how do we increase the number of young people who do much better in school than might be predicted based on their family circumstances.

"As the OECD’s PISA education research has shown, social background is consistently one of the major factors that determines average student performance.


"There are civilisations that value wisdom 
- and those who belittle it, preferring wealth and power. 
And in the end, they perish."
Charlotte Gray

Like great art, wisdom is hard to pin down, but people generally recognise it when they see it.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Apple Store

I am sitting in one of my favorite places...The Apple Store in Covent Garden! It's one of those magical places where you can play with beautiful things including the new iPad which is certainly a thing of beauty! I simply must get round to buying one!

Key Skills!

The torn off sheet on 'The Leader in Me' website lists the key skills businesses and educators have identified as vital to the futures of today's students. 

The Leader in Me!

My colleague Roel Rohner tipped me off about this great website.

The Leader in Me process aims to create a common language within a school, built on the principle-based leadership skills found in Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Michael Gove's Commitment to Excellence!

"And all of us, I believe, want to excite the next generation – as we were excited – by the adventure of learning.

Secondary Excellence!

We need to learn from the very best secondary schools and use their example and expertise to drive up standards for every young person. Michael Gove used three brilliant examples in his speech last week...

Primary Excellence!

We need to learn from the very best primary schools and use their example and expertise to drive up standards for every child. Michael Gove used three brilliant examples in his speech last week...

Rules of Happiness!

"Something to do,
someone to love.
Something to hope for."
Immanuel Kant

Michael Gove!

"We must deal with the root causes of the problem and that is our shared responsibility for those root causes can be found in the first years of a child’s life. We know that a child who struggles at Key Stage One will struggle to do well in their Key Stage Two tests. And we know those children with the greatest difficulties are drawn overwhelmingly from our poorest neighbourhoods. And we know that those same children who don’t have Level 4 English and maths when they leave primary school are much less likely to achieve five good GCSEs than their more fortunate peers. And we know that the same young person who doesn’t get the equivalent of five good GCSEs is much more likely to be NEET at 16 or 17 and much less likely to be in secure employment thereafter.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

"The wise do not surround themselves with clutter...
they keep a place of silence, emptiness and peace."
Pam Brown

Teams Matter!

We all know that 'together everyone achieves more' but if we really want to foster and nurture teamwork we have to create a culture that values collaboration, networking and partnership.

Das Rheingold!

I had a fantastic evening at Leeds Town Hall last night watching Opera North start their Wagner's Ring Cycle project which will see all four operas performed in concert over the next three years.
The Ring Cycle operas are some of my favourite operas and a real personal passion. If you don't know it the music is simply extraordinary!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Culture of Excellence!

The ingredients of the culture we need to develop to create an outstanding organisation include teamwork, leadership, character, persistence, determination and hard work. We must all be passionate about what we do and work to make what we do rewarding and enjoyable.

Think Team!

Teamwork and being part of a team are essential elements of improving organisations.

William Booth Primary School!

I started the day yesterday at William Booth Primary School where I was talking to all the teaching and learning team at the start of a training day. I had been asked by Andy Mattison, headteacher, as Chair of the new Interim Executive Board, to talk to the team about the National context, the challenges facing the school, what we want to achieve over the next year and how we do it!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

It is not the critic who counts!

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt

Devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning!

"Devote yourself to loving others,
devote yourself to your community around you,
and devote yourself to creating something 
that gives you purpose and meaning."
Morrie Schwarz

I have been thinking this morning, dangerous I know, as I listened to Michael Gove and the news coverage about the 200 'worst primary schools in the country' being converted to Academy status in September 2012. It would be interesting to see the list and to know how those colleagues are feeling as they turn up to work and teach in one of the 'worst primary schools in the country'! We all know and we all understand that we are facing another onslaught from our friends at OFSTED who are visiting our 'satisfactory schools' and ratcheting up the bar and rightly focusing on leadership, teaching, data, outcomes and progress. At times like this I often ask myself what are we trying to achieve together?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I can do it!

So many people I know want to be outstanding at something and want success in their lives. They want success at home, at work and in their relationships... don't we all! I have always thought that the most important factor that can guarantee our success in any aspect of our lives is having a positive attitude.
"The evils in this world are rooted in false pride 
- in race, in religion or in intellect; 
in a mistaken belief in our superiority. 
We must learn to listen 
- to accept that there are truths 
quite different from our own, but just as valid."
Pam Brown

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Passionate Commitment, Energy and Ideas!

The new world we are entering requires passionate commitment, energy and ideas and needs all of us to become deeply aware of the place we belong to; it's unique and special features, the things that mark it out as different, it's centres of excellence, the things it excels at and the things it struggles with. We can't, in this new world of Academies and Free Schools, command and control schools; telling them what to do and expecting them to want to belong. We have to transform our shared interests into a shared mission with passionate goals and create a real desire for change where people want to be part of something special. Why else would anyone work in schools? 

A Great Evening with Friends!

I spent last night with my friends, Ian Harrison and Parin Bahl, who, over the last ten years, have worked with me as directors and advisers to Education Leeds.

Behaviour, Character and Integrity!

Behaviour, character and integrity should lie at the heart of everything we do with children and young people and should guide our provision and practice at every stage of a child's learning.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Don't give Up!

With so much change and upheaval in the world of education it has been tough for so many colleagues and friends.  If you don't know this poem it is worth a read as we all struggle with the challenges and the opportunities life throws at us.

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

If you read the new McKinsey Report, analyse the new PISA data and listen to people like Ken Robinson it is increasingly obvious that, while we have achieved great things over the last ten years, we are not doing enough to ignite and inspire our children to become brilliant little learners. The challenge is  how we create passionate and compassionate learning places.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

"This is the art of courage: 
to see things as they are and still believe 
that the victory lies not with those who avoid the bad, 
but with those who taste, in living awareness,  
every drop of the good."
Victoria Lincoln

We need Passion and Compassion!

We need to create organisations and enterprises that are at the same time both passionate and compassionate.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Read this TES article about KIPP Schools!

I read this wonderful article about the KIPP schools again recently. William Stewart's article was in the TES ages ago and in case you missed it I wanted to share it again with everyone who shares my passion, commitment and belief that every child and every young person in every community can achieve. We just need to find the way to build brilliant and release the magic.

A four week plan to change your life!

The key to great schools, great teams and great organisations is to engage, switch on and keep switched on the colleagues who work with us. Everyone tells me that it simply doesn't work like that, but here is a four week plan to change your life!

Friday, 10 June 2011

What Works!

I have been thinking and it can be a dangerous thing. The sad reality is that we are still not making enough of an inroad into the huge group of young people who are disconnected from learning, disengaged from secondary school, disillusioned by a seemingly inflexible, traditional and irrelevant offer. So what do we actually do about this?

Chocolate makes you Clever!

I was talking about chocolate again today and some people simply don't believe that is makes you cleverer and asked me where is the research evidence.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Achieving Success!

We all want to be successful; to do a great job at work and to have a happy, fulfilling and worthwhile life!

The Power of TEAM!

We need to understand the power of team and teamwork and the real benefits of sharing the best of what we do.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

"We all carry within us:
supreme strength, 
the fullness of wisdom,
unquenchable joy.
It can never be thwarted,
and cannot be destroyed."
Huston Smith

Carol Dweck's 'Mindset'

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. 
They’re wrong!

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Our brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. Read Carol Dweck's 'Mindset' and you’ll understand!


"In the long run,
the pessimist may be proved to be right, 
but the optimist has a better time on the trip."
Daniel Reardon

Change your life!

"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine."
John Maxwell

Monday, 6 June 2011

Trust Me!

Last year the Institute of Leadership and Management in partnership with Management Today magazine commissioned a report to assess the state of trust in organisations...

This really interesting piece of research focused on six dimensions by which the trustworthiness of leaders and managers is measured: ability, understanding, fairness, openness, integrity and consistency.

Crack well-being to improve outcomes!

“Improved psychological well being (PWB) leads to a more productive and successful workplace. The case has been proven in academic studies over the last ten years.” Those were the words of Ivan Robertson, giving a seminar on well-being at the LSE this week.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Some Rules to Work By!

  • Keep doing the business;
  • Whatever you do, do it brilliantly!
  • Stick to the basics;
  • Keep it simple!
  • Manage by wandering around and seeing what is happening;
  • Be absolutely straight and honest with people, especially those at the front line;
  • Keep promoting a 'no blame' culture;
  • Take collective responsibility for what you do;
  • Banish "satisfactory", "fine", "gloomy", "negative", "boring" and "can't do" from your vocabulary!
  • Have a positive mental attitude; 
  • Know your strengths; and 
  • Turn your challenges into opportunities and successes.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The three most important questions in education?

The three most important questions in education are: 1. How do we make every child into a great learner? 2. How do we make every school into a great centre of learning? 3. How do we make every teacher into a great coach, mentor and instructor?

Friday, 3 June 2011

North Yorkshire Dales!

I spent a wonderful day yesterday in the North Yorkshire Dales visiting two farm parks; Thornton Hall Farm Country Park and Hesketh Farm Park.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Take Risks!

"If you win, you will be happy;
If you lose, you will be wise.

The only thing that really matters!

Are we doing all we can to ensure that all the resources we have available to us are deployed and targeted on the things that create the most value and make the most difference?