TeachFirst’s mission is to end inequality in education by building a community of exceptional leaders who create change within classrooms, schools and across society.
changing cultures’ first direct contact with TeachFirst was at their stand at The National Association of Head Teacher’s Conference, 2012. We were there on a fact-finding mission for schools we were working with at the time, and, although none of us have ever been Head Teachers, we were allowed to attend due to our critical consultancy work with Senior Leadership Teams. We were also personally interested in what Michael Gove had to say for himself!
One of our skills is noticing the opportunity to go beyond, being able to see potential and finding ways to collaborate with our clients to ensure the highest possible value.
So – as Nikky and the TeachFirst team had struck up a good rapport during the conference, we stayed in touch, and as chance would have it, there was an imminent celebration for primary teachers past, present and future at Warwick University – with whom we have a strong connection.
We were asked to contribute to this event, whose brief asked, “to encapsulate the nostalgia of being in primary school, share excellent primary practice, and ignite passion for creativity in primary practice.”
Nikky and Nicola took the lead in this project – supplying activities around ‘Storytelling and Puppeteering’, and, ‘Fashion Design from Easy-to-Hand Materials’, respectively. We also called on our associates: Pyn Stockman to host walk-up sessions on dramatic and mask-based intervention: Gemma Cumming to lead on puppet making from domestic articles, ‘Kitchen Sink Puppets’.
The event took place in the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre, and we set up four ‘stations’ around the spacious room, so that the 200 or so attendees could wander up and engage as and when they wanted through an evening that included other events such as Prize Giving and Dinner.
Our aim was to model our philosophy around engaging very young children: i.e. if you put something in front of them that is exciting and enticing enough – they will want to explore it – then it is the role of the adult to facilitate as much beneficial learning around that initial interest as possible . . . drawing them into further exploration, and not alienating them through too much direct instruction.
The team organising the event were keen for the attendees to get involved with our creative activities, and were confident that they would do so . . . but we didn’t want to take anything for granted.
However, at the end of the evening, the ever-patient gallery staff had to restrain themselves from dragging the delegates away from our stations, on the grounds that, “ I haven’t finished yet!!” . . and at 1.00am, we wanted to go home too!
What we were proudest of, was that not only did everyone join in, but there were some deep and provocative conversations about how this approach can be employed in primary schools to rigorously deliver the curriculum – and assess the effective impact of that delivery.