Posts Tagged ‘Forest Gate Community School’

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 . . .


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.

Erik has some very interesting ideas. Erik Erikson that is, the psychologist and psychoanalyst world-renowned for his theories on human psychological development.

And it is through Erik that I take into account two distinct stages of development when planning my activities and projects in schools:

Stage 4: Industry v Inferiority (age 5-12 years)

Stage 5: Indentity v Role confusion (age 9-18 years)

To take an extremely detailed and absorbing work and distill it into a couple of sentences we need to give children at primary school activities that they can strive to achieve. And students at secondary school activities that help them discover who they are.

Next week I shall be starting the first of my Preparation for Key Stage 4 workshops in Forest Gate School. I’m really looking forward to how it will shape up as I have been given carte blanche to run a course for students full of all the things I think we can improve on in schools. Things like finding out who they are, how they operate, where they can see themselves fitting into the world of work, what special interests and passions they have and how they like to express themselves.

I met some of the group yesterday and it was great to see how lively and questioning they all were. My first task for them was to go on to Buzz Books’ site and do the quiz to find out what sort of Myers Briggs type they might be. Then we should have fun with the people who have had a chance to do it before the workshop on Monday and my money is on the fact that we have a large amount of E rather than I as the first letter.

For anyone not in the know and hasn’t a clue about what I am referring to – go on to the site and do the personality test yourself:

Oh and the picture detail of Road with Cypress and Star by Van Gogh? Well – I could say it was linked with the psychoanalysis references, but it’s much more to do with the fact that here is someone who was so clearly passionately connected with his life’s work. Fabulous!

I have been mildly obsessed with study skills over the last few days.

It’s come out of the Preparation for Key Stage 4 programme that I am developing with Forest Gate School and took me back to my own schooling. I don’t recall being taught how to study as such. Or how to revise, make effective notes, construct an essay or any of that would-have-been-quite-useful stuff. OK – that was some years ago and maybe they did teach all that and I wasn’t listening (that happened a lot in school – hence my lifelong obsession to help make school is interesting and relevant ever since).

Anyway all sorts of things then began to occur to me: Do I know the best way to read something so that I can understand it? Do I know the best ways to remember information like names, numbers and lists? Can I hear a talk on something and understand the main points. Do I know where to find the best sources of information and help?

It occurred to me that if I had been encouraged to develop my own set of study skills when at school they would have been useful tools to have throughout my life. Important names will not have been forgotten. Reference books will not have been sought for the same information. Hours online would have not been wasted following dead-end links. Information would not have passed through my head without sticking somewhere!

In fact it seems to me that dealing with information effectively could well be a strong contender for a subject in its own right as it could have a huge impact in everyday life. And the fact that we all have different, preferred ways of processing infomation could allow individuals to design their own particualr ways of ‘studying’.

Revolutionary? No.

Do-able? Oh yes.

This may well be a strange post – but I’ll run with it for now and see what happens… In the meantime enjoy this lovely ‘go with the flow’ type illustration:

For some reason I was drawn to read up about Alzheimer’s disease today. My research has taken me through many aspects of Alzheimer’s including famous suffers, closure of nursing homes, suspected causes of Alzheimer’s, predicted numbers of sufferers and many heartfelt carers’ stories.

One of those stories was advocating writing as a form of therapy. By writing a journal or diary the carer can download all the frustration, joy, rage, sadness and insights caused through the caring process. And I finally saw  today’s topic clearly…

I have been ‘writing’ ever since I kept my first diary at 16. Not always in a diary or journal format, and certainly not every day, but writing has always remained a  constant. I find it immensely useful as a way of giving space to all the ideas, thoughts and emotions that clutter up my head. By acknowledging them ‘out loud’ on paper (or via a keyboard) I am able to apply perspective and therefore take appropriate action or form a considered response.

I have always intended to include a reflective element to the course I am developing at Forest Gate School. If the students are encouraged to record their experiences in a way that makes sense to them they are more likely to retain the information. And it occurs to me it could also cause them to be introduced to a very valuable means of expression that will see them through good times and bad, just as my writing has me.

. . . you could design the perfect support system for young people going through the last vital years of school.

Well, alongside the ever-innovative Steve Gillatt at Forest Gate Community School, I’m getting the chance to do just that!

And at the moment it looks very much like this:

A fair amount of ‘knowledge’ we put into our young people at Key Stage 4 is about exams and how to get good enough grades to take you where you want to go next. All that is great if the young people in question can, not only cope with exam and career choice pressure but also all the normal turmoil that generally accompanies the teen years.

For the rest of the student cohort I thought a little help could be useful and so have set about designing a set of additional classroom activities that offer resources and support. This is the content that I have outlined above and includes input on self-knowledge, knowledge about the workplace and the new ways of working, and sources of support and information. There is also a teachers section outlining key information so that they can appropriately support their students through the programme.

I am in the early stages of trailling this as a preparation for Key Stage 4 programme in Forest Gate School with the current Year 8.

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…

I met the lovely Rebecca Ngakane at Forest Gate Community School last week. She is engaging her Year 9 students in the wonderful world of blogging  and we discussed the vital elements needed to write a successful blog. What constitutes a successful blog probably varies from person to person. Some would argue it’s a success only if it makes money, others might think that a blog’s successful when it interests and engages its readers. Many others would claim that a blog is successful if it allows the writer expression of some sort. I think it all depends on why you are writing the blog in the first place, but I would say to anyone wanting to be a ‘successful’ blogger that they should start off with the following three points in mind:

  • Blog what you love to talk about. People communicating the very things they enjoy talking and thinking about is the core of successful blogging because, if you enjoy your blogging, you’ll . . .
  • Blog often. Frequent blogging allows practice and familiarity with the tools and functions of the blogging site you’re using. And before long you’ll also . . .
  • Find your blogging voice. Which really only does come with frequent posting. I’ve set up and written nearly a dozen blogs and every time it took a few weeks, or even months, before I felt I had my ‘voice’ on each one.

After all the above is satisfied it’s THEN you can think about your readers and what they might find interesting about your blog.

  • Are you funny when you write?
  • Are you giving people information they didn’t know?
  • Are you allowing people to understand your way of life and how you see the world?
  • Do you have fantastic ideas to share?
  • Are you good at communicating interesting things you’ve seen and making links for others to follow?

All of these are good reasons for people to want to read, and maybe even subscribe to, your blog. And that’s when your readership builds which can lead to a potential income.

But, for me, blogging is always about pleasure. I find that wherever I am working, or whatever project I am thinking of, a blog is a great way to collect my thoughts, or tell others about what’s going on. In fact I cannot now imaging life without a blog in the background somewhere!

Blogging may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it can allow an outlet and a ‘shape’ for thoughts. I also happen to think that regular thought download can clear the way for new thoughts and ideas . . .


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 . . .