Thursday 23 June 2011

The 100 show

Ethical fashion show celebrates centenary year for Selly Park Technology College for
Girls with local MP in attendance.

Pupils from Selly Park Technology College for Girls will celebrate their centenary year with the ‘100 Show’, an ethical fashion show. The show contains three amazing collections, including hat sculptures and clothes that have been radically transformed.  The event, which has sold out, will take place at mac birmingham on 24th June 2011 – 4pm and 7pm. Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak will also be in attendance

The project has been funded through the Creative Partnerships school programme, delivered by Bright Space.  The students organised the whole event from designing the clothes, logos, slogans and marketing to auditioning models. They also used their negotiating skills to hire MAC birmingham at a reduced rate. MAC birmingham also enabled Selly Park students to shadow their staff members.

All the clothes have been made from recycled fabric, thrown away garments or other unwanted materials, even plastic bags.  The students from years 7 – 11, worked with local Fashion Designer, Allison Sadler, owner of ‘People’ boutique in King’s Heath, to create a fusion of glamour, spectacle and innovation.

Sarah Hubbard, Deputy Head Teacher at Selly Park Technology College said: ‘This has been an exciting project for our students.  As well as designing for the show, they have now gained experience on event management and promotion.  The fact that the show has sold out, is testament to their hard work and enthusiasm.’

For press enquiries please call Marcia Springer on 0121 772
6932 or call Sarah Hubbard at Selly Park Technology College on 0121 472 1238.

Selly Park Technology College for Girls is an outstanding school which has received the International Schools Higher Level Award and countless accolades from the Specialist Schools Trust.  In 2010 they received an award from the Specialist Schools Trust for being one of the top five Technology Colleges in the country for the most improvement in the % of students gaining 5 A*-C including  English and Maths.
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Friday 17 June 2011

State Schools learning from Public School Boys?

Our government cabinet are mostly public school educated - how does their education influence their policies?  Is there anything in their education which can help turn around the past decade of growth between the richest and poorest?  OECD  have researched the growing gap between rich and poor, and recently suggested UK pupils are 'among the least likely to overcome a tough start.'

From my public school education I remember the average temperature in Quito (15 degrees Centigrade).  Quito was one of the easier South Amercian cities we rote learned (it's on the equator, so the same all the year).  Why do I remember Quito, and not where I left my jacket an hour ago?  I don't know, but subjects taught generally bore little or no relation to me, and did little to encourage me to learn.

Recently I was recommended to check out The Prince's Teaching Institute - an organisation which exists to support subject led teaching.  While I hope encyclopedic knowledge of average temperatures in South America is no longer so important, subject led teaching, like my schooling,  is about viewing the student as a vessel to be filled with important stuff.  It's also something being talked about again to improve all our schools.

Me, drawing giant fruit at school
A project on the life of St. Wilfred, for me, was an educational exception.  In my first year at Repton, for a holiday project, I chose to research patron saint of my home town, Ripon.  He was a medieval monk, spin-doctor type.  Not the obvious choice, but having been a choirboy in his church for the last four years, I guess I had an affinity with him.  It was very much a topic led project, directed by my own interest, and we moved on quickly to the serious stuff of examinations.  Another formative learning moment was probably not at school, but in contrast to it.  As a 'scholarship boy' there was a 'poverty gap'  between me and what felt like the rest of the school.  I needed some extra dosh, so when I got a chance to work in a chicken factory at 16...well I took the job anyway.  Apart from turning me veggie, it made me question the difference and similarities there were between me and the others there waiting for their CSE results over the summer.

Back at school two years later 12 of the 100 in my school year would go on to Oxford or Cambridge.  I don't think it was better than average results, brighter students, or even the subject led curriculum that got so many Reptonians there.  On leaving Repton I was invited to meet the freemasons - I guess something everyone in school was invited to do.  Not everyone rolled up their trouser legs, but our teachers, our parents, everyone around us, were very well connected.

There are obvious advantages of network and wealth which it's hard to even imagine 'education' alone addressing.  
So how can we improve the chances of the poorest in the UK?  The OECD think education can and has (in other countries) made a big difference - measures like teaching for 'resilience', 'self-confidence', ''personal internal drive'. 

For 'resilience and 'self-confidence', my learning happened in 'extra-curricula' school activities, which were varied and incredible.  Chosen and often directed by us, and supported with bags of money, kit and staff, being part of the wider 'Repton School Community' made me feel like I can do anything.  State schools may never have the money, kit or (as many) staff, but when it comes to learning developed with students, meaningful learning opportunities within and outside school  - 'fostering motivation and self-confidence' - This is something some public schools do well, but looking to 'subject-led learning' is looking in the wrong place.

Friday 10 June 2011

Mind the grass, not the children

There was a major rebuilding of Wheelers Lane Primary in 2007, combining the two sites - see photo new main entrance for infants.

Since then the lollipop man has been run over three times, there has been media coverage and parents continue to campaign for change to improve the road access, where children and cars mix a little too freely - please see Wheelers Lane Safe Route to School.

So what are the council doing to correct the situation?  Raising of the kerbs (see picture) to ensure cars won't drive on the grass, that's what!

Councillor Mullaney assured the parents and school measures would be in place after half term.  I thought I'd be getting photos of workmen preparing the yellow markings and barriers in place ready for after half term.

Workmen were 100 yards away, completing those all important high curbs to save our grass verges.