Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category


On Tuesday 22nd January The Department Store Game left its development home at Sarah Bonnells School and went on tour to Eastlea School. Our wonderful Year 11 co-developees: Chanelle, Timera, Mollie, Zelda, Olamide, Shannon and Rochelle (all pictured) took the game into a group of 40 Year 9 business studies students and played the full game with them for 2 hours.

Variations in the original game now included a timed decision-making system when a bell dinged every time and ‘hour’ went past (usually about 5-7 minutes) and a new and improved use of the decision and finance cards.

After the game some of the players commented on how they enjoyed it:

“I learnt how to handle decisions and situations, share jobs and work out solutions.” Rubecca

“I learnt different types of managers and how many are needed in one department store.” Glancy

“I learned how to make important decsions on the spot and how to think like a manager.” Lee

(I enjoyed) “The level of communication & teamwork it prompts.” Hazel-anne

(Is the game like real life in a department store?) “Yes a lot because the game was hectic and stressful.” Ardita

And our Game Guides from Sarah Bonnell were equally buoyant:

“I learnt that I can be a leader.” Rochelle

(I learnt) “That I can put myself out without being conscious of myself.” Mollie

“I leant that I can overcome my shyness.” Timera

“I can control a group of girls / boys, confident and I’m a good leader.” Shannon

The girls are now keen to go on to another school and we’re hoping to get them a gig at Langdon. Keep watching 🙂


On the 29th June the Department Store Game got its first big outing and major test.

We took it to Sarah Bonnell School and it was run with 180 Year 10 girls then 150 or so Year 9’s. The year groups were split into classrooms and each room had 3-4 groups in with two Game Co-ordinators overseeing and helping out. The Game Co-ordinators were chosen from the Year 10 girls that had seen the game before and were familiar with how it worked. It was a big ask to get these girls to help run the game as they would have to not only remember how it worked, but also take on board the changes that had been made and also be able to help the groups, who were starting from scratch.

I was looking for two things on the day: one was for the Game Co-ordinators to be able to take on the responsibility of their role and assist the groups. The other was for the game to be robustly tested and to gain lots of feedback about teething issues and changes.

Outcome one was really lovely to see. Most of the girls stuck at their task to co-prdinate the game, though they found it harder to manage their own peer group than the Year 9’s that followed. They all got a silver SCEP certificate and they were all pretty proud that they’d stuck it out!

As for outcome two? Well – I got loads of useful feedback from the co-ordinators about the difficulties they had with explaining the game and the stumbling points. The game is by no means ready to take to a wider audience yet, Sarah Bonnells very kindly offered their girls to test it on. I have got a few quite large changes I want to make to it now and we hatched a plan to run the new, improved version in another school – ably assisted by the Game Co-ordinators who were keen to continue to help develop it.

At last the town planning project came to Rokeby and we rolled it out to the entire Year 7 cohort (180 boys) over two full morning sessions.

I started the project with an irreverent look at why town planning  is necessary involving a presentation showing the extremes of when town planning can go wrong eg: over crowded roads, disused facilities, airplanes skimming over houses etc.

Then the boys were put into mixed class groups and, three groups to a room, were tasked with planning their own town. They were asked to think about which buildings would work best together and which needed to be situated separately.

Although the main remit for the day was working in teams the boys came up with some great ideas for town plans and were able to talk about their decisions about inclusion and placement.

During the second day the school was being visited by a delegation connected with Newham Community Olympic Legacy Project who included none other than Dragons’ Den Deborah Meaden who is a London 2012 Sustainability Ambassador. They spent some time in with one of the groups and were seemingly impressed with the angle and engagement of the project and how the boys were tackling the issues.

The resultant model ‘sketches’ of the groups’ ideas will be on display during the last few weeks of term including parents’ evening.

The Department Store Game was tested at Sarah Bonnell School this week with the aim of seeing if it was engaging enough for a group of students to get into.

There’s basically two aspects to the game: making management decisions and managing finances. Both aspects were well and truly tested and some lovely elements revealed themselves that I shall definitely being incorporating.

During the finance aspect of the game, the students get to roll a dice to determine either a % increase or decrease in takings. Much debate ensues as to who gets to roll the dice and how they employ the support of their various Gods / lucky charms / mystical entities to get the required number. I noticed this was a real aid to gelling the team and enabled them to get into the game quite quickly.

The other part of the game required the team to make decisions about various scenarios that might happen in a department store. The scenarios were basic outlines of a situation and the team had to decide what to do next.

What I hadn’t anticipated was that in many cases the scenarios really did require further clarity and, as a result, getting the team to establish exactly what was happening was both educational and very entertaining!

The testing also provided me with a better understanding of the playability of the whole game and so there are a number of tweaks and changes that will be made before its roll out at the end of June.

On the 25th of April two schools went head to head at the Lend Lease Buildings into Communities Project final. Both schools had an alloted time in which to arrive at Lend Lease’s Head Office in central London, organise themselves and then give their presentation to a panel of judges.

The judging panel consisted of:

Matt Beasley – Project Director for the The International Quarter which is next building phase in Stratford City.

Fay Cannings – Community Development Manager

Gareth Beaumont – Facilities Manager

Paula Lyons – Administration & Compliance Manager

I was also on the panel, as was a young man from Rokeby School who was with Lend Lease that week on Work Experience. It was quite interesting to have a young person judging with us (albeit from one of the schools in the final!) and I think it would be a great idea to have a student representative on any future judging panels.

The two groups had to present their thoughts on how to create and sustain thriving communities within new housing developments. They had a clear criteria for success which comprised:
• A clear, well thought approach to the project
• Thorough knowledge and understanding of issues
• A realistic solution
• The inclusion of attractive, relevant visuals
• A professional attitude
• Confidence when presenting and fielding questions

Both groups were exceptional in their presentations – so much so that the  couldn’t decide on a winner and Matt declared both teams should have winning Westfield vouchers. Eventually the panel got down to technicalities and it was felt that the Cumberland team really did address the criteria for success over and above what was required of them so they were the official winners on the day.

The final prize was being put together by Gareth at Lend Lease and will be something to do with a ‘backstage’ visit to the Olympic Park for the winners and their families. This will probably take place in the next few weeks.

An additional development on the day happened during judging panel discussions. The panel was so impressed with the professional attitude of all the participants that they wanted to think of a way to continue working with the young people. They agreed to find a way for Lend Lease to develop something along the lines of a youth forum and continue to develop the ideas that had been raised during the presentations.

And – because both teams were indeed winners – here’s a photo of the Rokeby team:

Yay – another SCEP blog is born – and this one has its own domain:

I’ve started it to help communication between me and the Class of 2012 that I’m working with at Forest Gate School for the next year.

As I wanted to be able to demonstrate ideas and information in an engaging way I decided to have, largely, video content on this new blog so that all the students have to do is look at it to find out what the next session will be about.

My first video was the most excellent ‘Teach me how to study’ by John Paul Stevens High School, San Antonio, Texas. I was so blown away by this video I wanted to see if it inspired the class. And yeah – it certainly did.

I would so love to see them produce their own version. And I think they would be keen enough to try . . .

On Friday 27th April Westfield is expecting a very special kind of visitor. A visitor who’s been on longer than average journeys abroad – into space to be precise. His name is Paolo Nespoli and he was in space as recently as May 2011 as part of Soyuz Expedition 27. He is also one of the astronauts responsible for some truly stunning photographs whilst he’s been in space:

Vesuvio, Italia, May 17, 2011

Paolo is part of the brilliant Mission X project that has been running internationally, and across the UK, over the last three months The culmination of the project is a visit to Cumberland School where students will be taking part in events and exercises celebrating the Mission X project completion. Delegates from ten of the other participating countries will be present and Paolo will be taking part in a live NASA webcast throughout the afternoon.

SCEP became involved as part of the tour for delegates included a visit to Westfield to understand about the regeneration in the area and see how the Olympic Park was shaping up. I adapted one of SCEP’s Westfield tours to be suitable for a substantial group of, largely, non-English speaking delegates. I ensured the tour would not only encompass the Olympic Park and the massive regeneration of the area, but also the size and scope of the Westfield development itself and its considerable efforts to be sustainable and energy efficient.

Now – all we need is some fine weather for next Friday and we’re laughing . . .

A team from Cumberland School

In the last few days of term I attended two schools’ Lend Lease project finals and they were both excellent. Interestingly enough the schools had approached the project in quite different ways:

Cumberland had worked with Year 9 Gifted & Talented students allowing three days off timetable to take a more global curriculum approach and immerse themselves more fully in the project. In these three days they spent some time at Lend Lease hearing all about the planning and architecture of the Athletes’ Village and International Quarter. They then had time to work on their presentations with additional input around the geographical and sociological aspects of the project. The school final was held on the afternoon of the last day.

Rokeby had also put a Gifted & Talented group onto this project, this time Year 10. These students came together after school on Mondays and Thursdays to work on the project within the topic of Geography. They had been working on the project over six weeks, kicking off with a site visit to The Athletes’ Village and presentation by Lend Lease.

All the students were tasked with demonstrating how they would set about establishing communities within apartment block developments. They were free to look at the project from one of three angles: Society & Engagement, Security & Physical Environment and Environment & Sustainability.

Interestingly a total of four groups from each school gave a presentation, and in both schools, three groups had chosen to focus on integrating the residents of the apartment blocks and one group had chosen to focus on security.

The winners were duly selected and will go head to head at the grand final to be held at Lend Lease HQ in central London on the 25th April.

I was chatting today with someone who owns a shop. We were discussing how he could ‘sell to the world’ irrespective of where his business was based. The advent of the internet and ease of global communication have allowed that to happen. We went on to talk about how he has changed his marketing strategy over the years to reflect not only the shifting local market, but also the emerging global one.

Not saying he was able to sell his products to anyone in the world (he sold large household furnishings – so certain logistics dictated delivery) but he found he now had the power to target his marketing to his specific niche market. Wherever they lived in, say, a 25 mile radius.

It got me thinking about who were are as individuals and our own individual ‘selling platform’.

Do we know who our market is. As employees, as business owners, as entrepreneurs? To we know who we specifically attractive to? Do we know who would love us to be part of their team? Do we know categorically what we have to offer so we can spend our time targeting only those who would be interested in us.

There’s an apt sales phrase ‘low hanging fruit’ meaning that you go for the easiest to pick first. If we all knew ourselves, our aptitudes, our skills, interests and talents so well that we could instantly see if any working scenario was going to be a good fit, it would waste less time sitting in unsuitable work. Attending inappropriate interviews and applying for jobs that make us feel down just by thinking about them.

This self-knowledge is what I’m building with my Year 8 programme at Forest Gate Community School.

I am currently planning a game for Sarah Bonnell School to play during one of their drop down days at the end of next term. You may have read that I’ve been planning to put together a ‘Day in the life of a Department Store’ experience for some time so this seems like the perfect opportunity to develop this idea.

But what format to use?

I originally thought I would go down the route of role play during a staff meeting but am now thinking that could require a huge amount of reading and understanding on the part of each player prior to starting the game. Now I have widened my thinking out a little more and begun to generate ideas for formats using familiar games that everyone knows such as:

Twister, Mousetrap, Monopoly, Cranium and my favourite as a child – Buccaneer. But it needs to be a ‘travel through’ type of game where the journey has a start and an end and where a team can work together to complete the task. But each team has a different experience that they can then talk about afterwards. It was then I thought of good old Game of Life.

With its overriding purpose, decisions and general randomness it could describe any experience of any working person in the UK – I think I’m onto something . . .