Tag Archives: Streatham

TeachMeet Streatham 2017

This year’s TeachMeet Streatham took ‘creativity’ as its theme. At the end of tiring half-term where exam classes are finally sent off to face their fate , most teachers are feeling anything but creative.  However, the chance to meet colleagues from a variety of schools and hear some inspirational speakers is exactly what was required to energise us for the final push to the summer holidays.

After Dr. Millan Sachania (@millansachania) opened the evening with an anecdote about the importance of creativity, James Mannion (@rethinking_ed)   took the floor. He helpfully looked at the difference between understanding and creativity and discussed how we can be creative in a fixed system. He believes one of the answers lies in schools running ‘Learning to Learn’ courses to give the pupils the freedom to think creatively as they complete a number of project-based tasks.

The enthusiasm of Nikki Snelgrove (@NikkiSnelgrove)  encouraged everyone in the room to take risks in their teaching which might mean letting go of the traditional teaching model. She extolled the power of flipped learning and shared some of the practicalities of how to make it work.

Having moved into a senior leadership role this year, I was particularly interested to hear Dr Jill Berry (@jillberry102) on ‘creative leadership’.  Although her recent research has been about making the move from deputy to head, she was adamant that we are all leaders as every teacher is a leader in their classroom. She encouraged us to think about the best and worst leaders we have experienced to help us understand where we are aiming and what  pitfalls to avoid.

As leaders we need to not only value our teams, but understand them and get the balance right between supporting them and challenging them.  Using an analogy of animals, we must  think about the foxes, owls, lambs and donkeys in our schools and how to get the best from each one of them.

Jonnie Noakes (@JonnieNoakes) then took us through some of the latest research into creativity in education before Toby Cooper and Emily Mundy gave us some practical examples of the creative approaches in dramatherapy.

The penultimate speaker Debra Kidd (@debrakidd) talked about the complexities all teachers face thrown up by the intellectual, physical, emotional and socio-cultural needs of our pupils.  While there is much that is not in the teacher’s control, if complexity is planned for, then it is amazing the impact that we can make.

Jaz Ampaw-Farr (@jazampawfarr) had no doubt about the impact that teachers had made in her life. She breathed fresh air into the room with her powerful personal account of how teachers can make a difference. Using the tragicomedy of her own life, she implored us to see failure as an opportunity. At the end , she gave us an ‘I am a mistak artist’ badge.  Let us not be afraid of failure, but see it as an opportunity to get creative.

What can we do differently? What risks can we take? How can we be creative?

Roll on #TMStreatham 2018!



STREAM and my new role

What was I doing at school, up a ladder and hanging bunting at 8am in the cold on a Saturday?

In September, I started a new role as Director of Co-Curricular Studies and Outreach at Streatham and Clapham High School. I have spent the first half of term finding my feet, not only coping with my new responsibilities, but also dealing with an ISI inspection. I thought that I would start a blog to reflect upon my experiences, but in the words of Robert Burns, ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley’.

This half of term has kicked off with STREAM, the largest children’s book festival in South London, which has been run by my school for the last three years. It is an amazing event with packed-out venues around the school hosting sessions and talks by a range of illustrators, poets and authors. I jumped at the chance to get involved, even if it meant hanging metres of bunting.

It is perhaps fortuitous that STREAM  coincides with my new blog as in many ways it exemplifies what my new role is all about.

Co-curricular Studies

I think STREAM highlights what is so important about ‘co-curricular’ activities. As a book festival, it is closely allied to the curriculum subject of English, but it offered so much more. Young people were able to engage academically with a whole range of subjects supporting and extending what they do in the classroom and completely free of examination-pressure. We learnt about the weird and wonderful world of beetles in MG Leonard’s energetic explanation of why she chose a beetle as the hero of her debut novel ‘Beetle Boy’. Marcia Williams, the author of ‘Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare’ treated us to an impromptu production of ‘The Tempest’ and the sheer joy of the whole audience split into three sections to recite the speeches of the witches of ‘Macbeth’. STREAM also delivered important advice and skills for life. There was career advice as authors explained their route to success, such as Rob Biddulph demonstrating how far he had come from his schoolboy drawings of comics to prize-winning illustrations. Our sixth-form helpers demonstrated leadership  skills in looking after high-profile speakers and confidently introducing them to huge audiences. It would be too difficult to express the full impact of STREAM on those who attended, but even these small examples serve to demonstrate what significance c0-curricular activities can have.


The other aspect of my new role is ‘outreach’ which can broadly be seen as making connections between my school and the local, national and international communities of which it is a part. STREAM is very much a community event and even its name reflects the local area of Streatham. It is free and open to everyone. It was a joy to see so many people come and enjoy our facilities and gain access to the likes of Malorie Blackman, the former Children’s Laureate. Books play a very important part in helping us to think about ourselves as global citizens.  I’m sure there wasn’t one person who did not reflect upon the plight of refugees today as Judith Kerr spoke about her own flight from Nazi Germany described in her novel, ‘When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit’. STREAM helps my school feel rooted in the community and helps others to see that we are part of the community too.

I am already looking forward to next year’s STREAM Book Festival and cannot wait to see the exciting line-up. The festival achieves so much in only one day. If my role as Director of Co-curricular Studies and Outreach requires me to be up a ladder in the cold on a Saturday morning to enable excellent events like STREAM to happen, then I cannot think of anything more worthwhile.