Archive for the ‘Rokeby’ Category

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.


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:

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.

Next week a group of students from Rokeby School will be visiting Westfield at the as part of their GCSE Geography coursework. They will be there to make comparisons between the Stratford Shopping Centre and Westfield, observing the how each serve the needs of the local population. Should make interesting reading!

I was unable to accompany the tour but put together some materials to allow them to do a self-tour. As I walked through the proposed tour last Tuesday I thought I’d take some photos to illustrate the various points. Looking back on the photos as I put the tour together I laughed as it was so dreary, rainy and dark that day.

Not the best day for a photoshoot!

I think I should nip around again when the weather is a bit brighter so that at least the tour photos will be cheery whatever the weather on the day of the tour.

I will add the tour materials to this blog under Projects above.

I had a lovely meeting with Kay Wood, Head of Geography, at Rokeby School on Friday.

It's embedded in the very fabric of the building!

Now Rokeby Boys School and I go back a long way as it was the first place I worked after becoming a qualified teacher. Back then in ’94 it was a lively school situated on a tired little site in the heart of Stratford. But I loved it. The staff were great, the boys were great and Stratford was going through massive regeneration so there was an amazing energy about the place.

So, of course, I was curious to see if the essence of the school still existed now that, nearly fifteen years on since I left, the staff will have changed and indeed the whole school has upped sticks and shifted to Canning Town. I was not disappointed. The new building looked every inch as if the school meant business, the areas I passed through were spacious and well thought out, the notice boards declared amazing feats of achievement at GCSE level and I even bumped in to a few people I knew from my teaching days. I think a school really benefits from this continuity and investment of key senior staff. I fell in love with Rokeby all over again!

And Kay has so many great ideas for linking geography projects in with SCEP. One of which is linking with GCSE course work within a few weeks so I’m on to it as soon as I’ve finished this. Another project is for year 7’s later on towards the end of the school year and linked with the regeneration that has been going on around Stratford City. I think that would be a great starting point to develop the lovely KS1 Building a City for the Future project (Launch of Woodgrange Project) that has run in various primary schools. It’s about town planning and to bring that up to KS3 level would be a great addition to the SCEP portfolio. And it’s another pet interest of mine so I’m looking forward to getting together with Kay and planning it all out.

After I’m onto her GCSE requirements that is. Gotta go . . .