Monday, 23 September 2013


I have spent the last forty years in this crazy profession searching for the extraordinary; looking for what works and trying to understand why some things don't work! 

I have spent a huge amount of time in schools working with talented colleagues, coaching and mentoring, observing lessons, listening to students, giving feedback, writing reports and reflecting on what I have seen.


I met up with my old colleague and friend Dirk Gilleard during the week. 
It was great to see him and the memories, of what we achieved together at Education Leeds, flooded back. Dirk's understanding of teaching and learning and his passion for developing potential helped us transform outcomes and achieve some outstanding results. He is currently writing his book which focuses on coaching, learning and motivation. Watch this space!

Sunday, 22 September 2013


I was at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall this afternoon for an amazing concert performance of Tosca, Puccini's wonderful opera, that left everyone wanting more. 
 The performance featured the beautiful Viktoria Yastrebova who performed wonderfully in the role of Tosca, particularly in her duets with her beloved Cavaradossi and with Puccini’s arch-villain, Scarpia. Vladimir Galouzine, who played Cavaradossi, sang amazingly and thrilled everyone with his high notes ringing around the Philharmonic Hall. The wonderful Bryn Terfel who playedScarpia, sang with real evil but also tenderness and that's not to mention the sheer volume of his delivery. The wonderful Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was brilliantly conducted by Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir provided the glorious chorus


I went to see the Chagall Exhibition at Tate Liverpool this weekend. 
I hadn't realised that Chagall lived from until 1985 and this exhibition is a glorious opportunity to learn more about this Russian painter who uses colour and imagery so powerfully. The exhibition takes a fresh look at his work and is the first major presentation of his work in the UK for more than fifteen years. It finishes on 6th October if you want to see it!


I met up with an old friend this week and it reminded me that  when it comes down to what really matters, faith, family and friends make life worth living!


Whatever you are doing and wherever you are have a brilliant day!

Friday, 20 September 2013


"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." W. B. Yeats
If you read the McKinsey Report, analyse the PISA data and listen to people like Ken Robinson it is increasingly obvious that, while recognising what has been achieved over the last ten to fifteen years, we need to do more to ignite and inspire our colleagues and our children to become brilliant learners. The challenge is how we do it and how we create passionate and compassionate learning places. Those of us who have seen it happen, and know how to do it, need to work together to share ideas and strategies and to continue to think team and to build co-operative, collaborative approaches that inspire young people to really understand what they are capable of, to dispel the nonsense about genius and to help them reach their extraordinary potential. I have visited so many brilliant schools across the country that have have transformed the learning landscape and achieved brilliant outcomes through the powerful use of collaborative school improvement approaches. Many have used brilliant programmes like Every Child a Reader, Every Child Counts, Musical Futures and Learning Futures but most importantly what these great schools have created is a culture of excellence built on passion, persistence, self-belief and determined, focused and deliberate practice and hard work. This is balanced by a focus on compassion, equity and a belief that every child can achieve and can be successful! Throughout my life people have told me that things are impossible and that we can't get every child to read and love number by the time they are seven or eight; that we can't get every child to be a brilliant little learner by the time they leave primary school; that we can't get every young person the equivalent of 5 good GCSEs including English and maths by the time they are sixteen. I simply don't believe it and I don't accept that every school can't be a great school and that we can't create great teams with the current people. Success doesn't come in can'ts, it comes in cans. We simply need to change the culture and focus on developing learning leadership, beautiful systems and intelligent accountability. And we must get people to believe; to believe in themselves and to believe in the extraordinary potential of our children and young people and our colleagues.


I am working in Sheffield to develop a single coherent joined-up approach which establishes the entitlements for children and young people from Key Stage 1 to Post-16/College. This would create a pathway through learning and school/college where we connect the World of Work with the curriculum to ensure that every child and young person develops the skills, character and knowledge they need to enter, thrive and succeed in the workplace. 

By establishing these entitlements and creating a systematic approach we can streamline the enormous, fragmented and incoherent approach where schools are constantly inundated with interesting programmes, great initiatives, powerful projects and wonderful challenges but struggle to connect them into their DfE and OFSTED driven world. 

At a time when resources are limited and the pressure on schools and local authorities to demonstrate value for money in everything they do, continues to increase it makes sense to adopt a single strategic approach. This would be based on a clear entitlement for all young people and where we audit everything that is currently available around a single framework agreed between schools and employers. This will allow us to reduce programme duplication, avoid timetable clashes and optimise the use of all available resources.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


We all need to share, network and learn. I am currently learning in Sheffield, Guernsey and Staffordshire but I am always happy to share. Alway happy to network. Always happy to help! You can contact me at

The Longevity Project!

At the start of yet another school year it's important to remember that research suggests that we can change and become happier and healthier just by taking small steps which can change our lives for the better. So remember as the dark nights roll in that we need to be persistent, disciplined and work hard for as long as we possibly can. We need to stay connected with friends and colleagues. And we need to volunteer and give to others whenever and whatever we can.


Too many of us think that if we had more time, more resources and more space we could make a difference. For some of us that could be true, but for most of us the last thing we need is more. We need different, and that’s what we struggle with. It’s simple: if what you are doing is not having an effect on the things that matter, you must change. 
Based on a quote by John Hattie

"Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets."

"So love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said that it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it." Unknown

I have spent the Summer thinking, reflecting on what I have learned over the years and reading about the things that work! Over the last forty years I have learnt so much from so many talented people and everything I have read convinces me that the answers to all the problems we face lie in developing learning communities built on deep research, coaching, learning leadership, beautiful systems, intelligent accountability and the importance of discipline and character. 


I am sorry that the blog has stayed silent for such a long time but it has been an interesting and very busy Summer.... and a glorious one. However, the football is back, another school year has started and Autumnal rain and gales have now rolled in. The important thing, come what may, is to stay positive and remember the things that matter...  faith, friends and family!