Monday, 31 October 2011

"Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig.
If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time.
Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then  ripen."

Character and Functional Skills!

Employers argue that we can only realise and release the potential of our children and young people if they are better prepared for life and work in the twenty first century. In recent years we have made considerable progress in raising standards and in improving the educational attainment of our children and young people, but the pace of change remains insufficient.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

"In times of change, learners will inherit the earth,
while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped 
to deal with a world that no longer exists" 
Eric Hoffer


It's strange when you understand the school improvement research that we seem to be heading down the current rather narrow and fragmented approach to school improvement.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

"At the heart of every child... is a unique genius and personality.
What we should be doing is to allow the spark of that genius
to catch fire, to burn brightly and shine."
Michael Morpurgo

The Real Answers!

If we want to create great schools for every child and every community the real answers lie where they have always been.

Friday, 28 October 2011

"The ultimate measure of a man is not
where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, 
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." 
Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

"Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young"

I love the Sunscreen Song which you probably don't know came from this column by Mary Schmich, which was published by the Chicago Tribune on 01 June 1997. Make sure you read it and I hope it makes you smile.
“You can program yourself to be positive.
Being Positive is a discipline … and the more adversity you face, the more positive you have to be.
Being positive helps build confidence and self-esteem”
Rick Pitino, University of Louisville Head Basketball Coach

Monday, 24 October 2011


In January The Guardian launched the School I'd Like, asking schoolchildren what would make their perfect school.
"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment 
rarely sat back and let things happen to them. 
They went out and happened to things." 
Elinor Smith

Sunday, 23 October 2011

"Life isn't measured by the number of breaths we take 
but the moments that take our breath away." 


We all know, that it is the quality of the teaching team that makes for brilliant learning...

Research has shown that there is a fourfold difference between the most effective and least effective classrooms and that ensuring greater consistency is one of our greatest challenge. Teachers and classroom assistants must be the best learners in their classroom because children pick up 'learning power' by example as much as anything. 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

"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

Friday, 21 October 2011


"The principal goal of education... should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things... men and women who are creative, inventive, and discoverers." Jean Piaget

Life is never ever dull, and my travels have once again showed me the outstanding practice, the incredible young people, and the inspirational colleagues that exist in Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and other places up and down the country.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,
and expecting a different result.”
Albert Einstein

Thursday, 20 October 2011

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; 
and I'm not sure about the the universe." 
Albert Einstein


I got back to the gym this week after struggling with a bad back and it's true everytime that exercise makes me feel better but I am not convinced by those people who constantly tell me that exercise is the best way to lose weight.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


I was in Sheffield again today meeting with colleagues to look at how we can co-create a new curriculum based on a competency model focused around five key aspects highlighted in the DEMOS report, 'The Forgotten Half'.
"To say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves
and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows."
Jean Anouilh


"All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pit at school. These are the things I learned:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

“If we are to achieve things never before accomplished,
we must employ methods never before attempted.”
Francis Bacon


Hovingham Primary School is a very special place and work going on at this wonderful little school shows us why we should be encouraging children in every primary school to blog, tweet and use technology to develop, nurture and encourage their literacy, numeracy and basic skills.

Monday, 17 October 2011


IAs you know I visited one of my favourite schools again on Friday for their latest 'Mathletics Celebration'. Jane Fisher, assistant headteacher, who leads the work on Mathletics put some pictures on her blog over the weekend. 

If you want to visit Hovingham Primary School's blog and find out more about this amazing little primary school you can go to the school website at or you can visit Year 2 Palm's site to see the pictures at

"Patience and perseverence have a magical affect 
before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." 
John Quincy Adams


Where is the vision? A vision for education, learning and schooling supported by research about what works. Where is the strategic framework? A strategic framework driving the system reform we need to create great schools for every child and great schools to serve every community?

Sunday, 16 October 2011


To support these developments, we must:


Research clearly shows that:


I have been thinking about some of the schools I really love in Leeds and the challenges they are facing in this new world of Academies and Free Schools.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Friday, 14 October 2011

"There is nothing in life so difficult that it cannot be overcome. 
This faith can move mountains. It can change people. It can change the world." 
Norman Vincent Peale

Mathletics at Hovingham Primary School!

I visited one of my favourite schools again this afternoon. I was at Hovingham Primary School which serves the Chapeltown and Harehills communities in Leeds for their latest 'Mathletics Celebration'.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and woman to win them." 
Ralph Waldo Emerson


We can all make a real difference and we must always remember that actions speak louder than words. Whether it is care for the elderly, unemployment in young people, concerns about special educational needs and inclusion or the underachievement of looked after children; hard times and tough issues require bold ideas, big ideas, brilliant ideas.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"The value of experience is not in seeing much, 
but seeing it wisely."
Sir William Osler


If we want to build brilliant learning places we need to develop a culture where we welcome feedback and help everyone in the school workforce to continuously update their knowledge and skills and have opportunities for good quality professional development.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


We need to further develop the beautiful systems and powerful practices for reviewing and developing the work that goes on in our schools, recognising and rewarding good teaching and great learning, and supporting the development of every young person and the whole school workforce.

Family, Friends and Faith!

I remember what Martin Sheen said on Desert Island Discs about the most important things in life. He said they were family, friends and faith and it is important at times like this that we don't forget that these are the things that really, really matter although I think friends should be expanded to be community. Remember

Monday, 10 October 2011


I was in Sheffield again today and saw this amazing rainbow...

"To be happy, drop the words "if only"
and substitute instead the words "next time".
Smiley Blanton


Research clearly shows that the leadership of schools can have a hugely positive impact on the educational outcomes of young people.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

"Much wisdom often goes with the fewest words..."

"Leading a Self-Improving School System"

In "Leading a Self-Improving School System" David Hargreaves argues that the government's offer to the profession to lead the construction of a self-improving school system is an exciting one that should be taken up with enthusiasm.

Friday, 7 October 2011

"Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."
Nelson Mandela

Collaboration and Partnership Matter!

How do we encourage collaboration and partnership working in an increasingly fragmented and unco-ordinated educational landscape.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

"If you can't explain it simply,
you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

Be Brilliant!

I am struggling to understand why we are so focused on structures as the key to success. Over the last fifteen years I have visited so many amazing places and learned so much about the things that make brilliant learning places...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sheffield Springs Academy!

I finished the day at Sheffield Springs Academy at their Employer Engagement Event.

The Sheffield College!

I started the day at The Sheffield College with Heather MacDonald, Chief Executive, and Bill Jones, Executive Director of Planning and Performance.

"Ability is what you're capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it."
Lou Holtz

The Choice is Yours!

Being exceptional is not defined by what you have or what you do, it depends critically on your attitude and the decisions you choose to make.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision,
the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. 
It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” 
Henry Ford
"From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth,
from the laziness that is content with half-truths, 
from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, 
deliver us."
Ancient Prayer

How are we doing?

What does the latest release of Key Stage 1 data tell us about how well we are doing, the challenges we face, the things we need to rethink and the things we need to do better?

Monday, 3 October 2011

OFSTED Inspections from January 2012!

From January 2012, school inspections are changing again and will report on four key judgements:
  • achievement; 
  • the quality of teaching; 
  • the quality of leadership and management; 
  • behaviour and safety. 

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement!

I visited the Royal Academy this afternoon to see the 'Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement' exhibition.


I went to the amazing Tamarind restaurant last night as recommended by my good friend Parin Bahl!

Resilience Matters!

I am developing a new curriculum framework and Martin Seligman, Carol Dweck and Alison Duckworth all stress that resilience is a key aspect of success in learning and whether you are a parent, a teaching assistant, a teacher, a headteacher or a Director of Learning this is a critical issue!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

'Pret A Manger' colleagues wear a shirt bearing the logo 'Team * Pret'. How do we build and develop 'Team * Learning'?

Releasing the Magic!

Another week has flown by and my travels around the North of England have been brought alive by so many extraordinary people in so many different settings releasing an extraordinary magic. I was talking to Mick Waters again on Sheffield Station and it is not a surprise that it's people who make the difference but depressing how little understanding there is at the DfE that you don't change anything by simply changing structures. Those people who believe that Academies, Free Schools or Teaching Schools are going to sort out the fundamental issues facing us in terms of underperformance are failing the thousands of young people who need us most! We need 'beautiful systems' but more importantly we need a cultural change that trusts, empowers and releases the extraordinary potential dormant in so many places. We need a new curriculum that develops life skills, basic skills and employability skills. We need to build character alongside academic and vocational excellence. And, from the earliest opportunity we must develop passion, persistence, determination, self-discipline, self-control, emotional intelligence, gratitude, optimism, curiosity and enterprise as we educate our children and young people. I am working on a new curriculum model and would welcome feedback from those who are searching for the way to release potential and magic in every school, every colleague and every young person... whatever it takes! Chris