Farewell to Education Leeds boss

Colleagues past and present have said farewell to Chris Edwards, the man who sparked the turn-around in Leeds education.

When Ofsted produced a damning report on the city's education department Mr Edwards was brought in as chief executive of Education Leeds, a not-for-profit company.

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He is leaving three months early as Education Leeds prepares to merge into a new Children's Services department.

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Colleagues, councillors, teachers and governors met in the Civic Hall to give him an official send-off.

And they received a glossy 50-page report called Celebrating 10 Extraordinary Years – effectively the story of Chris Edwards'

leadership.

He said he was very sad to be leaving.

"What do you do after such a fantastic job?" he said. "I have lots and lots of friends in this room today."

Mr Edwards said that when he arrived fewer than 40 per cent of pupils were getting good GCSE grades and now the figure was 80 per cent which was a fantastic result. He said: "The morale of the education department was very low after they were told they were the worst in the country.

"But now they know they are one of the best.

"It is like a football team. If you don't have confidence, the potential doesn't show. If the team is not positive and enthusiastic, how can children feel like that?"

Mr Edwards said the task had been to build relationships, trust and esteem and then "release the magic."

He added: "I have spent a lot of time in schools, as people who visit my blog will know.

"I think you have to be out there, constantly talking up the positives and challenging the things that are not working.

"Improving attendance and parenting is the next challenge."

Mr Edwards, who received farewell gifts from civic leaders, said he now planned to do some public speaking "and other bits and pieces."

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