Posts Tagged ‘Newham’

And here at SCEP Towers we’re gearing up to present NEBP’s new menu of offer to schools. As SCEP is part of NEBP’s work related learning offer I’ve been working on presenting a few additional programmes.

We’re incredibly fortunate to have Newham’s Skills Place at Westfield which is entirely devoted to running training connected to the retail industry. They have offered us an opportunity combine one of our courses with a retail certificate and chance to interview for an apprenticeship place.

At NEBP we think this is a great offer to schools and have added to it with an offer of our own to give students a whole day focussed on skills directly needed for the workplace. By providing a complete, ‘joined-up’ programme offering a real step into the workplace we hope schools will be keen to incorporate it into the curriculum for students more suited to this kind of learning.

This is a great example of the kinds of ways NEBP can work with SCEP to produce new curriculum options that could make a real difference to young people in Newham. NEBP’s new Menu of Offer will contain a number of SCEP projects that have become established enough to be offered alongside the more regular programmes.


So then, the schools are all closed now in Newham and the work of the summer begins.

I began my time with SCEP this time last year. The first few weeks and months of my summer last year were spent trying to grasp the concept and scope of all the projects that had taken place over the previous years. This year the summer activities with SCEP will be focussing on extending and embedding the projects we have focussed on last year. Also we have the materials to write for Siemen’s Crystal which is opening for schools in the new term.

Over the last year I have spent time getting back up to speed with the schools in Newham, where some have re-located to, who is new and who is still teaching on some 18 years after I first came to the borough. The changes I have seen alone in those some twenty years have been astonishing. The pace at which the part of east London has been regenerating has never let up. With or without the Olympics, Newham was ripe for bringing into the 21st century as a part of a new and emerging London. And now there’s real, tangible evidence of it all around us. It’s still simply the most exciting borough to be working in. I might even add it’s possibly the most exciting place in the UK.

Here’s to the next year 🙂

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.

Part of the work we’re doing involves Siemens’ Crystal – based in the Royal Victoria Dock – and this week we took a group of teachers to see inside. The Crystal is currently being fitted out with all its exhibits ready to open in the autumn so when we got down there we had to don hard hats, high viz jackets, boots, protective eye-wear and gloves before we could go on site. Attractive!

Inside the exhibits are still being installed and the partitions erected so we could see how the layout was going to work and two of the designers were on hand to explain each of the sections and what would be in there when completed.

Nicki Della-Porter from dbda is developing the national school resources and took some great photos, in quite a tricky environment:

The next stage of the plan is to meet with the teachers then liaise with the designers so we can get a clear understanding of each of the exhibits and what kinds of information they are imparting. Then this summer’s task is to produce some great educational materials ready for the launch.

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.

Today I wanted to write about something that’s so close to my heart that I almost overlook it.

It’s not a skill or a talent. It’s a natural gift in some – but everyone can choose to have it, if they want it.

It’s optimism.

Many people (pessimists some might call them) refuse to see the world through optimistic eyes as they think it’s unrealistic. The truth is that over optimism is possibly damaging, so it’s realistic optimism we’re aiming for here.

The kind of optimism that allows you to roll with the punches that life can throw. The kind of optimism that provides you with resources to keep finding creative solutions when all the options seem to be closing down. The kind of optimism that can raise someone else’s spirits enough for them to pick up momentum again.

As I said this kind of optimism can be learned and practised until it’s second nature.

And while your A*-C’s will get you to the next stage in life, whatever that may be. The choice of optimism will accompany you throughout your life and serve you, and others, over and over and over again 🙂

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.

 OK so during adolescence the limbic brain is extremely active and it craves novelty and new experiences. It’s the perfect time for young people to get out there and try loads of things, push themselves and see what they’re capable of.

It’s also a great time for them to get out and about for a very different reason: colleges, universities, work placements and jobs are handling hundreds of different applications  – it’s essential that a young person knows how to make their application stand out, in a good way.

One way to stand out is to volunteer for something. Either as a one-off or regular occurrence and there are thousands of opportunities for young people to have a go at something new throughout the UK.

Whilst I’m sounding a little like an ad for the UK voluntary service – I do have my own take on this worthwhile activity. Bar my first application for a teaching job, some nineteen years ago, every job before and since I have either got through word of mouth or some sort of voluntary activity. Voluntary work not only broadens your horizons, makes you more interesting as a candidate, brings you into a network of new people, it can also be your passport to the work and career that interests you the most.

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 have been out and about a lot this week with planning meetings, Preparation  for KS4 lessons, Lend Lease Project finals and presentations and, oh yes, my meeting with the astronaut Paolo Nespoli today at Westfield. All of which I shall blog about next week when I have some photos – so hang on in there.

Today I wanted to make a comment about the attractive April ‘showers’ we have been experiencing recently. It varies (but not much) between blazing sunshine and torrential, flooding, drain cover-lifting rain. That doesn’t stop until at least half an hour after you needed to have got out of the car to attend a meeting. I have taken to carrying an umbrella, which is unheard of for me. Challenging times indeed.

But it does bring out the very thing I find the most endearing about the community in and around Newham. The sense of humour and spirit of just getting on with it. Whilst I was in John Lewis today I was examining their huge range of Olympic Games pin badges that they have on sale – 365 different ones to be precise. Some of which were definitely tongue-in-cheek, like the Olympic pin representing the good old English fry up, cream tea and, most appropriate, rain cloud, lightning and umbrella.

We may not have the best weather here in Britain. But it will not get us down!