Back Ooooop North for Philosophy and Pupil Voice

Working ‘ooooop North’ this week provided me with a welcome opportunity to catch up with two amazing schools in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

On Tuesday 27 March, Marshfield School Improvement Service hosted a CPD networking event and market place, with the added bonus of Barry Hymer as key note speaker.

The aim was to create an opportunity for MYBD5 schools to share good practice and promote CPD programmes to support teaching and learning across the local authority and beyond.


Barry Hymer talked eloquently and passionately about Philosophy for Children (P4C).  Barry informed us that we like being on shared emotional journeys.

He talked about the benefits of authentic inquiries, which provide space and time for thinking and reflection.

Ultimately, P4C is all about getting the children to ask the questions, with the teacher being the ‘guide on the side, not sage on the stage’.

Proving this, Barry used a balance of quotes from children he has worked with, as well as leading educationalists and philosophers.  These quotes could be attributed across all areas of the curriculum.

The line, ‘Is art the painting, or the idea?’ generated some interesting Twitter discussion during the next hour.

The market place was diverse and provided opportunities to network and share ideas.

My own personal highlight was the opportunity to talk with six members of the School Council at Bowling Park Primary School and their teacher, Sadie Brearton.  Jadina, Nabeel, Stephanie, Uzair, Natalia and Yahya talked me through the process of scrutinising the literacy books of their colleagues in school.  They explained the marking and feedback and how it impacted on the learners at Bowling Park Primary School ‘Going the Extra Mile’.  They also told me that their video was played back to the teachers at a recent staff meeting…a unique approach to linking teaching and learning.

The School Council also explained their role in Investors in Pupils.  Their interviews with members of the school community are most insightful.  Pupil voice at Bowling Park Primary School is definitely being heard…and listened to.  Jadina, Nabeel, Stephanie, Uzair, Natalia and Yahya all made positive impressions on those attending the event.  Thank you…

A special shout out too goes to other exhibitors and visitors:

Graham Morgan and Paul Bilston from Evolve and Project HERO;

Paul Kerfoot, his 7 Keys to Success and Bullet Point Design;

Carol Barwick from Raise children’s project;

Sian Shipley and Lesley Heathcote from the Creative Agency based at St Stephen’s School;

Tahir Rasul from Brazilian Soccer Schools Bradford;

Lucy Penrose and her range of Dance Workshops…

…and of course, Colleen Jackson, Janet Penrose and Linda Disney from Marshfield Primary School for hosting and organising the event…it was great to be back in the North.

Bryn Llewellyn, March 28th, 2012

Whose Curriculum is it, Anyway?

Whole Education, March Regional Conferences,

London, Wednesday 21st March 2012.

The aim of the conference was to take advantage of increasing freedoms available to schools and learn about how educators can provide outstanding teaching and learning by:

  • helping young people develop a range of skills, qualities, knowledge and qualifications;
  • helping make learning more relevant and engaging, with young people owning their own learning;
  • supporting learning beyond school and the classroom and engaging the wider community in learning.

These aims obviously have shared links with the work of 360 People and even though their patrons, Sir Tim Brighouse and Professor Mick Waters were not in attendance at this event, Jo Shuter, David Crossley and John Dunford were present…forthright, articulate and illuminating.  

According to the blurb on their website, Whole Education promised a ‘one day conference that would support schools by hearing from leading educationalists’…and that is exactly what we got.

John Dunford, Chair of Whole Education, explored the current policy climate and reflected on the challenges and opportunities facing school teachers in providing  a ‘whole education which would help young people be work ready, life ready, ready for life-long learning’…a belief shared by 360 People.

Headteacher, Jo Shuter talked about the achievements made at Quintin Kynaston Community Academy, where the emphasis is on community.  Using an extended schools model, QKCA is very much a school that acts as a hub for meeting the needs of the learners and the families.  Jo explained that rather than leaving your baggage at the gates, young people were encouraged to ‘bring your baggage in and we will work together to remove the barriers to your learning…so that we can help you become responsible, active citizens’.

Jo emphasised the need for clear and decisive leadership at all levels, ‘forensically-focussed on achievement and attainment’.  This is balanced with the importance of relationships between students and staff, who are there to be role models.  At QK, there is a focus on maintaining stability amongst the staff, who recognise the power of nurturing and learning, and are committed to their own professional development.

At QK, staff and students alike are encouraged to:

  • Have a ‘Can Do’ mentality;
  • Learn, adapt and change;
  • Be creative…creating new boxes, not just thinking outside the original ones;
  • Ask for help where needed.

David Crossley, Executive Director of Tribal’s Inspirational Schools Partnership, shared his experiences working with schools in Nashville,Tennessee.  He urged us to ‘embed a sense of urgency and a push for success with a culture of optimism and enthusiasm’.

We were then given opportunities to learn in breakouts about innovative projects and initiatives to enrich the curriculum and provide a more rounded education. It really was a difficult decision regarding which of the Whole Education Partners sessions to attend.

My break-out scribblings are indicative that I really need to finally come off the fence and decide whether to buy the Asus Transformer Prime or i-Pad.2 or 3. 

Legible or not, many thanks to:

Special thanks to;

  • Pat Cochrane from Cape UK…always great to catch up with a creative from the North;
  • Alan Bailey, Deputy Headteacher at Charles Dickens School, Kent…for insights into the South;
  • Phil Avery, Assistant Headteacher at Bohunt School, Hampshire…for explaining just some of the amazing curriculum at his school.
  • Roger Billing from the Wroxham Transformative Learning Alliance…for being inspirational and sharing outstanding practice;
  • Douglas Archibald, Rosie Palmer and rest of the team at Whole Education for ensuring the success of the event;
  • @suklaa for tales about gay penguins in Edinburgh Zoo, back in 1988…one day you will have to tell me more.  On a serious note, check out Suklaa Media and Education for great ideas, find out more about the team and what they can offer.

The event clearly fulfilled its aims and provided yet more ideas for discussion about partnership work.  I encourage you to visit the links, explore and find out more.

Whose Curriculum is it, Anyway?  Ours and the learners with whom we share our journeys…

Bryn Llewellyn, 21 March 2012

We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday

Summer ThoughtsWalking along Regent’s Canal this week, having completed a presentation for and , my thoughts were future-shifting to to the summer.  Well, the sun was shining, I had removed my jacket and tie…it really was THAT warm, AND Beth Orton was playing through the wires so life felt good.

That evening, I was checking my e-mails and found a link to:

The Summer Schools programme for disadvantaged pupils is open to all secondary schools. The first Summer Schools of the programme take place during the 2012 school summer holidays, with a budget of £50m.

This programme aims to help disadvantaged pupils make a successful transition from primary to secondary school. Schools can claim Summer School funding for:

  • pupils who are registered for free school meals (FSM)
  • pupils who have been looked after in public care continuously for six months.

For further information, follow the link above. Please note the deadline for submitting the opt-in form is 5pm Monday 30 April 2012.

If you need ideas for how best to run a Summer Camp, will be more than willing to help in terms of providing high quality Health Mentors to deliver innovative programmes that will enthuse, educate and activate students.

These programmes will build on the proven success of the outstanding transition project, Compass: Finding Your Direction,

So if you work in a secondary school, remove your jackets, walk in the sunshine, listen to music that warms the soul, future-shift and get those applications in…

Bryn Llewellyn, 15 march 2012