Author Archives: spiketown

Creative Christmas Y1 Style!


A busy week with hundreds of pupils attending different events culminated in our KS1 Creativity Day. Many of the children are only 5 years old but what excellent self regulation and engagement they showed all day. Yes the activity was based around developing a toy with a clear audience focus and appropriate features, but the real sub text to nearly everything we do here is the focus on personal attitude, interpersonal skills and completing a task. These children may be young but they developed those skills and attitudes brilliantly during the day. St Clare’s, Oakdene and Caedmon primaries brought a total of 71 children and some very enthusiastic adults to support:

I even challenged them to record on camera the product that they had created (using a basic LEGO set), who the audience was and what the features were that were appropriate to that audience. Pretty daunting when you are 5 and your image is being mirrored to a 20ft screen at the other end of the room! But unless children are offered these wider opportunities in challenging yet supportive situations, they won’t develop the self belief, in fact self esteem that goes with it. That is one of our primary aims here and just like nursery teachers encourage mark making as a precursor to writing, simplified use of enterprise type language and task focus is essential with the very youngest if we want our children to develop those skills effectively through their lives. Start young and build, they understand!

Enjoy their videos and excuse the hamfisted Director trying to cajole their ideas out of their heads!

Caedmon voice over vid:

Oakdene and St Clare’s speedy green screen:

Christmas Enterprise

What a great day today at Inspire2Learn with pupils from both Hummersknot in Darlington and Rift House in Hartlepool. We got off to a slow start examining TV adverts to identify how products are pitched at different audiences but once they got the hang of it, they were able to use their understanding to create bespoke Christmas decorations aimed at particular audiences:

Hummersknot even had time at the end to deliver short and snappy pitches to camera. What stood out for me today was how focussed the pupils were on their work. They took on board what they were shown, then applied it effectively. It was really interesting to watch them have to learn new skills on the fly, even the basics of using glitter carefully! Several conversations between myself and supporting staff revolved around how much care, attention to detail and general resilience the children were showing in getting the task achieved. This approach has a real knock on effect when pupils have this approach to learning integrated into the more academic elements. After all, this mimics effectively the way that they will be expected to work in their future careers, focussed, self regulated and time dependent!

Enjoy the videos below:

Young Animation

What a fantastic day we had here at Inspire2Learn. Mrs Jackson led a wonderful day with children from Ash Trees School in Billingham and Rift House from Hartlepool creating simple animations. Well I say simple, the length wasn’t massive but by the end of the day all of the children knew how to add voiceovers and had even created title sequences. Some of the older pupils also recorded narrative in Garageband to reassemble their video work in iMovie. Well done. They now have the skills to work on much greater depth animations and an understanding of how the number of frames. affects how a narrative can work.

Well done everyone.



The Art of Enterprise

Well done to our brilliant pupils from St Benedict’s and Caedmon today. The challenge focussed around understanding how a product is advertised in particular ways to a particular audience. Understanding some of the tricks was key to the children then creating their own adverts for a Halloween themed toy. They identified Value Propositions for their target audiences and then honed down the features to create USPs that would make their toy stand out. They even had time to try and incorporate some of their learning from the morning to creating their own draft of an advert that hit the target audience.

Well done everyone. Great first attempt.

Scrapheap October 2017

Wow what a fantastic groups of pupils from Huntcliff Secondary School in Saltburn. Due to the wild weather they were unable to even get a breath of fresh air form the moment they arrived to the moment they left but by and large they kept their focus and produced some excellent work. Kudos to the presenters who represented their teams with engaging, scientifically grounded and innovative ways of making their products stand out. Below are the pictures of the planning boards, followed by the models themselves. And finally, the video stream that we took as they presented. Genuinely well done, they have turned the scrap from Percy’s Scrapstore into viable sustainable energy options within their school (not sure about the school aeroplane but I liked the idea!). This challenge focussed on one of the UNs Sustainable Development Goals and work will be uploaded to represent the innovative thinking in our area in the near future.


And now the models:

And the video:

IMG_8876Great work today from St Clare’s, Ormesby, Caedmon and Saltburn Primaries. 80 pupils learned the basics of green screen technology through an iPad then combined it with their expert writing skills to extol the virtues of their local area. As if this wasn’t enough they even created short montages based on a fantasy trip, complete with unusual foreign guest stars (you know who you are!).

I asked a lot of them in a day and what you see below is very much their first drafts. In one day they rarely get the luxury to make mistakes and then put them right, such as filming larger than the green screen, moving the camera erratically or leaving chairs in the shot! However, next time they use a green screen, they will consider these things, learn from their experience and produce even better results. For what I threw at them in one day, they did really well and have the skills to polish their work going forward.

Well done everyone.


Highlights from Day 1

Was it worth the trip? Day 1

As many of you know, we host a huge number of events designed to inform and inspire pupils of all ages to think about their futures and what they can achieve in the world. This is usually a lonely pursuit supported only by our brilliant volunteers. But occasionally a chance comes along to collaborate with other like minded people or organisations and we jump at the chance. This project has been at least two years in the making, involving organisations and individuals from a range of backgrounds, from all across the NE. Through our combined efforts we arrive at a unique event. 2500 pupils will celebrate, engage and immerse themselves in the vibrant world of engineering that the NE offers. Staged at the Stadium of Light, we will have over 150 schools attending over the next two days and they will enjoy touring around the interactive displays hosted by local companies, attend a science show with Dr Bunhead (if you have to ask….) and discover what amazing opportunities are on their doorstep for a great future career. We aim to run this event each year so if you can’t be here this time around, enjoy the short video streams to get an idea of what you can aim for next year. And if you want to help inspire pupils about your company or sector, please get in touch to be part of one of the many events we have running each week.

Below is a thank you to all our fantastic companies and volunteers who spent two, very busy, days in the atmospheric concourses while wave after wave of enthusiastic pupils descended on them. They smiles never wavered once!

Thank you all.


Scrapheap September 2017

Icons-FINALA new year, a new scrapheap challenge! We have 80 children in today from four of our excellent Tees valley schools all taking on a challenge in a day. Most groups will present their work here on this website live this afternoon at about 2.10p.m. Without giving too much away because the challenge is developing an idea as a team, in the moment, the focus this year is on the Sustainable Development Goals form the UN. Many people are unaware of these goals yet they form the basis of many international agreements ranging from climate change to women’s rights. We have selected one of the SDGs for today’s challenge and packaged it up as a challenge that the pupils can respond to. As always I am concerned when creating the challenges with making them appropriate and relatable, today was no exception. One teacher told me that when she watched the challenge video this morning she immediately wondered what the children would be able to do. She was astonished in the multitude of ideas that they came up with around the theme of sustainable energy. Below are some pictures of the pupils at work with more to follow, along with the live stream, later.

WOW these children have been working hard today, some really innovative and actually practical ideas that could work in out schools. Food for thought because they are deceptively simple in many cases. Anyway, until we go live, here are some of the models as they near completion:

Which company would like free publicity and a lovely warm feeling inside?

how long have you got

That’s right, you could make a big difference to the lives of young people just by getting involved. Many companies do this as part of their CSR, PR or simply for talent spotting. We don’t care. We know that either way, changing the cultural capital for our school population has measurable outcomes later in life. I have sat (with many of you) in many meetings, seminars and presentations over recent years where the problem of skills gaps and lack of information about the local jobs market for young people is moaned about. I agree with all of it, hence the huge range of events that we have created at the centre starting with primary school upwards. This is not just about ‘career information’ this is about changing cultural capital for every child, making them aware of the local opportunities that exist and most importantly, feel that they are opportunities that they can take.

That is where our lovely local companies come in. We need your help. Growing research evidence (blog posts passim on this website) strongly links pupil engagement with the world of work to improved outcomes for them in later in life. We have created a range of ways that companies or individuals can get involved, we now just need the sign up. Today I have had to turn away schools from some of the events on our calendar, the rest are filling up fast. Schools are committed to doing this because they recognise that pure academic success guarantees nothing. Many also recognise the growing evidence that developing cultural capital has a positive impact on academic success anyway.

So what can you help with? The events can be seen at a glance on the events page but for a copy, click here: Inspire2Learn school and employer engagement brochure 2017-18

to see the full range of ways in which you and colleagues can make a real difference to the local area both now and in the years to come.

Any questions please just contact me:

See you all soon,


Quality, not quantity

I always enjoy working with children on animation projects. Most of them who come here are learning it for the first and we have been very careful to build the pace of these days so that the children produce something that demonstrates understanding of the process rather than trying to do as much as possible. Today was a great example. We spent the first part of the morning defining creativity and identifying why it is ESSENTIAL to being successful in life and work. Who has the most uncreative job? I still don’t know if the suggestion of a ‘welding inspector’ was a good one! We then used that to springboard into using our creativity to solve a problem and respond to a challenge using the LEGO Build to Express kits.

A quick tour of the Stop Motion app (free – I still can’t believe it!) then furnished the children with the key skills with which to develop their ideas of a simple story. We paused briefly after lunch for a ‘top tips when animating’ discussion based on what they had learnt so far and off they went. The staff as always were magnificent supporting the children as well as two work experience placement from one of the schools, one from People’s Services and one from my very own house! The children were mixed, awesome Y4 from St Gabriels who were doing something completely new and the fabulous Y6 pupils from Ormesby Primary who had a little experience already. It was a lovely combination and a very positive comment must be made about their manners and conduct at lunchtime which is all part of the learning experience about the big wide world that I2L offers. Well done all of you, you are welcome back any time.

So enough reading, here are the videos. I would say short and sweet but actually some achieved more than could be expected of them given such a tight time frame so all different lengths. Well done to all of you.