Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Looking carefully at how we address the huge inequalities in this country constantly means that we return to the key role of parents and carers.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

"Four things will come not back:
The spoken word,
The sped arrow,
The past life,
The neglected opportunity." 
Arabian Proverb

Monday, 28 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

'The McEwan Quad'

Today was a very special day because I was attending the opening of 'The McEwan Quad' at West Oaks School.
"Never use the words, "I can't".
Say, "I'll try".
Ruby Forsythe

Six Tips for Brain-Based Learning

I found this wonderful edutopia resource on twitter and wanted to share it with you.

"If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you...
you may have a fresh start any moment you choose,
for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down but the staying down."
Mary Pickford

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Blog Blog Blog!

All the evidence suggests that getting children blogging can have a massive impact on their learning. Personally, I love my blog and I have been blogging now almost every day, and sometimes many times a day, for the last six years.  

I am the master of my fate!

When I can't sleep, I read and last night I came across this great poem again which sums up exactly the attitude we need and the character we must show during these dark times.

"Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole.

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

“Most true happiness comes from one's inner life, from the disposition of the mind and soul.
Admittedly, a good inner life is difficult to achieve, especially in these trying times. 
It takes reflection and contemplation and self-discipline.”
William L Shirer

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


What makes educational provision in Finland so good?

"Determine that the thing can and shall be done,
and then we shall find the way."
Abraham Lincoln

Better, Faster, More Efficiently!

We are challenged all the time to do better, faster and more effectively in our schools, our classrooms and our communities.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Learning from Finland!

As England struggles to find a new education and learning framework, it is worth studying what is happening in Finland.
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of trial and suffering can we be strengthened, 
our vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
Hellen Keller

Sunday, 20 November 2011


We need to search out, learn from and celebrate the pieces of magic that happen in schools across the country on a daily basis. These moments of magic change lives, shape outcomes, inspire us as learners and help us reach for the stars!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems." Mahatma Gandhi


The challenge we face as an educational community is how do we create a world class learning landscape with world class outcomes?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Victoria Primary School!

And finally I dropped in at Victoria Primary School to see my colleague and friend Alison Carrick who with her colleagues is transforming outcomes and changing lives.

Hovingham Primary School!

I moved on to Hovingham Primary School in Harehills to see Janet Spence, Headteacher, and Jane Fisher, Assistant Headteacher. This is one of my favourite learning places and the work they are doing on maths is brilliant and the outcomes they are achieving are staggering!

Parklands Primary School!

I started the day at Parklands Primary School in Seacroft in East Leeds. This extraordinary little school is achieving some fantastic results for it's diverse, complex and very special population.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Sheffield Secondary Headteachers!

I was at Sheffield's Bannerdale Centre this morning to talk to the secondary headteachers about the Cutlers project I am working on.

"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

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dirk Gilleard

I saw my friend and colleague Dirk Gilleard this week and he reminded me that we mustn't let anyone tell us or tell our children and young people that we are not bright, not clever and not full of potential.

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


I know things have been tough for many colleagues and friends recently. If you don't know this poem it is worth a read as we all try to stay positive and manage the challenges life throws at us.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

I visited King Edward VII School this morning to meet Jeremy Twyman, assistant headteacher, to talk to him about the Cutlers initiative I am working on.

Monday, 14 November 2011

"Patience and perseverence have a magical affect 
before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."
John Quincy Adams
I visited Yewlands Technology College this afternoon to meet Angela Armytage, headteacher, to talk to her about the Cutlers initiative I am working on.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

"Life isn't measured by the number of breaths we take
but the moments that take our breath away."
"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. 
"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems." Mahatma Gandhi
"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
"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself;
but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, 
and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation."
Robert F. Kennedy

Friday, 11 November 2011

I visited Parkwood Academy in Sheffield this afternoon to meet Mike Westerdale, Prrincipal, and Vicky Simcock, Vice Principal to talk to them about the Cutlers initiative I am working on.



There is a growing body of evidence that as we face this perfect storm, where nothing seems to provide comfort and reassurance about the future, colleagues are becoming increasingly frustrated. We even have the head teachers threatening strike action!
"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

Thursday, 10 November 2011

"The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows,
it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts."
Booker T Washington


We need to constantly learn from successful examples of what works. In his brilliant article 'Singapore: Five days in thinking schools and a learning nation', which is on the OECD Education Today blog, Andreas SCHLEICHER says that he was struck most by the following features; meritocracy, vision, leadership and competency, coherence, clear goals, rigorous standards and high stakes gateways, high quality teachers and principals and intelligent accountability.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;
they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors,
and the most patient of teachers."
Charles Eliot

'Reading Matters' in Sheffield

Those of you who know me know that I read constantly and that I care passionately about reading and believe that every child has an entitlement to be taught to read; preferably before they are eight! If you can't read your life chances are diminished and the opportunities to learn, grow and develop are severely limited.

While I was in Leeds I actively supported 'Reading Matters', a brilliant little social enterprise, which, for over 12 years, has recruited, trained and supported thousands of volunteer reading mentors in schools across Yorkshire. I have become a trustee and want to help them continue the outstanding work they are doing in schools across the region.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

“If you do what you’ve always done,
you’ll get what you always got.” 
Mark Twain


Colleagues have taught me over the years that if you don't set goals for yourself, you will probably carry on through life believing that this is as good as it gets.

Monday, 7 November 2011

"Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed 
by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do."
Mark Twain

Skills, Creativity, Enterprise and Hard Work!

It is strange sitting on the touchline after spending so long on the pitch. I have spent the last year in Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield learning, listening and trying to understand how we create a learning landscape where every child and every community have access to a great school... which after all is what everyone claims to want!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Extra-ordinary Enterprise!

It has been a real privilege working in Sheffield over the last few months and having the opportunity to discover and learn about some of the best the city has to offer. The city has an extraordinary heritage in term of industry, innovation and enterprise and it was wonderful to be able to meet this week with their BIG Team who encourage, nurture, challenge and support schools to make enterprise part of their curriculum.

I was at the City Screen in York yesterday evening to watch the Metropolitan Opera perform Richard Wagner's Siegfried; the third opera in the wonderful Ring Cycle.

Friday, 4 November 2011

"If I were to wish for anything,
I should not wish for wealth and power,
but for the passionate sense of the potential. 
For the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible!"
Soren Kierkegaard

Talent, Creativity and Imagination!

We need to build a new schools and learning system for this new world; for this new conceptual age. A learning system to equip all our little learners with the skills they need to be successful bigger learners and to be successful in a world that is changing beyond recognition.

Thursday, 3 November 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

The Struggle!

Over the last fifteen years I have worked with some simply extra-ordinary colleagues working in school improvement services across the country; talented, intelligent, committed and experienced people who brought a rigor and focus to their work and who had over this period achieved a remarkable transformation of the learning landscape and helped schools deliver some outstanding outcomes.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


We must be brave enough to expose the myth that environment and deprivation rather than character are a better explanation of why people behave and act as they do.
"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."
Beverly Sills

Excellence, Character, Innovation and Creativity!

Research from DfE, OFSTED, OECD, PISA suggests that we need to develop a new approach to learning to create world class outcomes for our children. Everything points to the fact that to help young people achieve and succeed we must recognise that character is at least as important as intelligence!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

"Things never go so well that one should have no fear; 
and never so ill that one should have no hope" 
Turkish proverb

World Class!

Our universities are still the envy of the world and attract large numbers of outstanding young people from across the world and for some of our young people our education system is amongst the best in the world! Sadly for many it is not and the gap in attainment and achievement between the highest performing young people and the poorest performing young people is amongst the worst in the world.