Archive for the ‘Imagine’ Category

I have been putting off reporting back about Dragons’ Den. Read on…

The event went really well, it was a beautifully sunny day and John Lewis’s Stadium Suite had the most amazing view of the Olympic Park.

 All the students from Forest Gate Community School looked smart and ready to do business.

Our esteemed Dragons were:

  • Jenny Cowan from Westfield
  • Felicity Gasparro from John Lewis
  • Paul Johnson from Seetec
  • Mark Ross from London Borough of Newham

 Each of the groups gave their best presentation which, for some, was achieved by actually standing up in front of strangers and speaking. Other groups gave confident accounts of their ideas and able to field the Dragons’ questions. The outcome of the project was that the students managed their own time and get to the presentation stage in front of the Dragons. Which they all achieved.

It would be fair to say that, because myself and Steve Gillatt (their teacher) had held off from putting any structure into their project the resultant presentations were somewhat hit and miss. The learning happening more whilst doing the project and not so much demonstrated via the end result. In future I would definitely punctuate the sessions with direct workshop input in confident speaking, financial considerations, presentation preparation etc.


The reason I put off writing about this event was because, very sadly and very suddenly, Paul Johnson, one of our Dragons, died shortly after Christmas. Paul was a great friend to NEBP and all of our projects. More than that, he was a thoroughly good bloke, a consummate professional and had a wonderful can-do attitude.

All I can say is that time is passing for us all. Make it count…


My name is Brandon Walsh and I am study BTEC Art at Forest Gate School. Myself and my classmates have been given the chance to take part in a special Dragons’ Den event.

My role is to interview my classmates before and after they have been to see the Dragons. I have to interview the Dragons before the presentation to see how they are feeling and to find out if they think they’re going to like what they are about to see.

On Monday the 12th of December we will be going to Westfield so that the “young apprentices” can pitch their ideas to the Dragons. I don’t think that the groups are achieving their true potential, there are a lot of talented people in my art class and the they are being held back by some students that are not so interested in working. I am the boss of the class at the moment and I have loved this project. I would like to take this opportunity to thank miss (thank you miss). I started this project off (with the help of miss of course) I put the class into groups, made a graph of the ideas and then made them pick the groups they wanted to be in. During this project I have learnt that you need to be a good leader and do not give up, I have loved the project.

There are 4 groups named Games space, Graffiti creator, Art bakery and Cartoonize. Just before their presentation I asked each of the groups how they were feeling, here are their replies:

Games space said: “Excited, might go somewhere with our idea”

Cartoonize said: “It’s okay”

Graffiti creator said: nothing

Art bakery said: nothing

Looking forward to Monday!

Chinese New Year Dragon by West Ham Primary School (2009)
I thought you’d enjoy this dragon I found in the Newham archives. I am using it to illustrate today’s story as we had a ‘Dragon’ visit Forest Gate School’s Imagine Project yesterday.
Our Dragon was in fact the rather wonderful Sapphire Gray who not only took the role of ‘interim’ dragon to help our student groups refine and develop their presentations. But she also spoke such words of inspiration that the groups returned from their session with her full of renewed enthusiasm and determination.
Interestingly, in my role of ‘teacher’ my opinion of the students’  ideas had decreasing credibility with them as I was “supposed to think they were good”. And, in a similar vein, some students stated that anyone who agreed to come in to be a Dragon would also automatically say all the ideas were good because that was what they were there for.
As it turned out Sapphire did in fact find a viable aspect in all their ideas. Not because she was expected to, but because the four ideas the students were working on were actually quite marketable. Sapphire then went on to not only explain how they could effectively capitalise on these ideas, but that she would personally support anyone who was interested in taking any of the ideas further. The students were positively buzzing.
A rather excellent session with a rather excellent Dragon methinks . . .

We had a very interesting ‘visit’ from Lord Sugar in the Imagine project last week.

Did Lord Sugar really come to Forest Gate?

The class were discussing success and what forms it could take, critically not always financial. Then discussion moved on to who, in their eyes, was successful and in what kind of ways. Taking the list of people this discussion generated I asked which person would be the most useful to have in the room for the Imagine project.

The class decided that a visit from Lord Sugar would be useful as they could ask questions about their ideas for Stratford City. And, as if by magic, Lord Sugar appeared . . .

Well, actually, he was admirably channelled by a young guy called Lekan, who immediately assumed the gravitas and stature of Lord Sugar. It was a very entertaining twenty minutes whilst the class basically badgered him for money and he responded by asking what it was for and why should he give it.

The basis for this type of exercise is from a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique called modelling, when you assume the essence of someone who you think would be useful to have with you. I used this technique some years back when I was being ignored in a Currys Electrical store (that’s how long ago that was!) and decided that Carol Vorderman wouldn’t tolerate it. So, assuming her expectation of being served, I strolled up to some nearby chatting staff and sweetly requested their attention. It worked a treat.

Try it next time you’re not sure how to proceed with a situation. Conjure up the entrepreneurial essence of the late great Anita Roddick, the self-promotion quirkiness of queen Lady Gaga, the determination of Lance Armstrong, the business eyes of any of the Dragons or the humble compassion of Mother Theresa . . .

An example of a vision board

This week the Imagine Project is kicking off in Forest Gate Community School. This has been a long time coming and I’ve had a whole half term to ‘anti-plan’ the direction I’d like this project to take. One of the things we’ll be doing quite early in the project is Vision Boarding. I know it has a slightly American twang to it and possibly viewed as a bit new age-y by some but I have found Vision Boarding to be a very useful way of making things I want to happen in my life, actually happen.

In the summer of 2000 I sat down with a large piece of card, some magazines and a vague idea that I wanted to clarify my future. I rifled through the magazine picking out images that appealed to me. Quite a lot were of other countries; beaches, cities, famous sights. There was also a laptop, various pieces of furniture, interior shots of cool houses, lots of healthy food (?!) and a picture of a couple on the deck of a boat. When I’d collected all the images I liked and stuck them all down on the card I was happy I’d covered all my future wants so I folded it up and put it away.

About five or six years passed and I discovered it again, opened it up and was truly shocked at the amount of things that I had ‘visioned’ had actually happened. I had met and married a guy, we’d started a property company, bought a big house in which we’d put some fab furniture, made loads of cash which enabled us to take trips to some great places in the world. Alarmingly enough I had even had a child, which was not technically on the vision board, but was included in a picture of one of the interiors. Be careful what you wish for !!

I will be using the vision board with the class at Forest Gate for them to envisage and engage in what it would look and feel like to achieve success in the Imagine project. But you can be sure some of them will be inspired to produce wider, personal vision boards. In fact I’m very much thinking it’s time to do another one myself . . .

My excuse is that I have a five year old daughter but, to be honest, when I saw Night at the Museum 2 was on TV I jumped at the chance to record it. I – er- quite liked the first one. Anyway, there is a link to SCEP – or rather there’s a link to what I’m hoping to achieve in the name of SCEP.

Towards the end of the film Amelia Earhart (played by the excellent Amy Adams), who has been battling alongside our hero (Ben Stiller), knows she has to return to being an exhibit once more and give up the freedom she has had. I’m terrible at goodbyes in films at the best of times, but this one really tugged at the heartstrings when she looks at him and simply says “have fun”. It’s not a disposable line. Her meaning is clear: make the most of it while you can.

That’s the sort of thing that reminds me that, yes, we’re in education and our role is to ensure the next generation has everything it needs to be successful. But we’re also here, on this planet, a relatively short space of time and perhaps life should not be all about striving to achieve 24/7. Looking back over long lives some people wish they had spent less time at the office and more time with family. Others regret long feuds and misunderstandings. Me? I hope to look back on a life of fun as I believe that having fun and being generally upbeat is infectious and that, at the end of the day, if the sum total of your life can make you smile then that’s not bad thing.

Today I am looking at generating ideas – or rather what tools are available to assist creative thought.
The Imagine project will soon be launching in Forest Gate Community School and the students will be required to think creatively. Not only just about their topic but also about how they organise themselves and where to find help. By typing ‘creativity’, ‘generate’ & ‘ideas’  into Google I came across loads of websites and blogs listing the many different ways to widen and deepen creative thinking. Much of which I’d come across before in some shape or form, but there’s always something to be learned from other people’s interpretations.
I also came across some great new stuff – like the random phrase generator below:
What I generated!

Have a go at Creativity Tools – this exercise was also interesting seeing how the constituent parts of an English sentence are put together.

I have used similar tools pretty much all my life. As someone who started off at the age of eight wanting to be an illustrator, then a graphic designer, then off into architecture, silversmithing finally heading into schools as an art & technology teacher you might assume that I would be more interested in a career that allows my interest in visual creativity to be expressed. Not necessarily so. I found something even more exciting: the creativity of business, the creativity of self employment and even the creativity of survival itself!

These days I feel it’s vitally important to equip our young people with resources and tools to help them whatever their futures hold. Employment choices, self employment options, running their own business / corporation / multi-national could all be in store for our young people – and that doesn’t even touch on the multitude of applications for creativity outside of their working lives. I feel creativity tools provide options and strategies, which, the more times they are used the more naturally creative thinking becomes. In this rapidly evolving world such solution based thinking could prove very useful for getting our young people into what they want to be into – and, critically perhaps, out of what they want to be out of . . .

Even on my days off Newham is never far away!

I took a days leave last week to attend a networking meeting with a difference. A business contact of mine called up and said he was hosting a meeting on a barge in Hemel Hempstead and thought it would be my kind of thing. As it happened I had a meeting scheduled in Hemel that afternoon so, being ever ready for something different, I found myself on a barge with fifteen or so complete strangers floating gently down The Grand Union Canal rather than battling the M11 rush hour traffic.

The event was hosted by a wonderful charity called Reach Out Plus

Reach Out Plus

Before you decide that you don’t tune into this blog to hear all about my life outside of Newham then read on, everything I do relates back to SCEP in some way.

One of the people on the boat that day was a professional Philosopher called John Turner (Metathink) who amusingly muddled with the minds of us mere mortals. The upshot being it all tied in very nicely with the kind of thinking I would like to introduce into SCEP’s Imagine project. John told me that one of Newham’s primary schools, Gallions, had philosophy in its curriculum and I then went on to find a whole website devoted to philosophy aimed at children in schools: Philosophy for Children

Watch this space to see where it all fits in . . .

Much is written about how too much TV is bad for us as living, thinking beings. But when does TV become a useful tool in the classroom?

When ‘educational’ programmes like Dragons’ Den are on!

This episode was from the follow-up series about what makes a successful pitch and what happens afterwards when a dragon says yes.

One of the projects I’m hoping to run again this coming year is the Imagine project where young people study the Stratford area and create a new business idea to be based there. Linking this more fully with the Dragons’ Den concept it should be easier for young people to understand what factors make up a business proposal and how to go about presenting yourself in a favourable light.

A Dragons’ Den scenario where young people have to model the good examples set by successful businesses will embed the learning from this project even further.