Author Archives: spiketown

Start your engines…er…again!

It is a bright sunny morning on the Quayside in Newcastle as another day of activities surrounding the Great Exhibition of the North get ready to gear up. If you haven’t already been please take the opportunity to visit some of the amazing opportunities that will be running in the area throughout the Summer and early September.

Why is Inspire2Learn so interested today? Well we have 18 cars from the Tees Valley, many of which were built in our centre, competing in a one off Greenpower race day. Many competed at Croft last week but today is more of an exhibition event to showcase the amazing work of the Greenpower Trust. I spent yesterday at a national event where the focus was on how schools are responding to the government’s careers strategy. Ensuring pupils get experience of team working, problem solving and working on a defined project were key skills that were identified as important to any business for potential employees. Show me a better example than. building an electric racing car, designing the bodywork and racing it at events. It is just one example though of the multitude of experiences that schools can offer their pupils and our brochure of events for next year will almost certainly be hitting inboxes by tomorrow at the latest so that involvement in Greenpower is just one aspect of a school’s provision.

But today, let’s enjoy the racing. Live streaming including race footage and hopefully interviews should begin here around 10am and will last as long as we have power!

Celebrating Teachers

As many of you may know the RCTTP based in our Centre works closely with local schools to develop a whole new cohort of bright eyed and bushy tailed teachers every year. Rated Outstanding by OFSTED and recognised as one of the leading teacher training providers in England, the retention rate from previous years is still above 90%. This is a huge support to our local schools and contributes to some of the amazing success that we see locally in education; continuity of well trained staff that are born within our local school environments.

So tonight is the annual Graduation for our latest batch of teachers, all of whom have passed this year’s course. Below is the livestream if you are unable to attend but would like to see it either live or at your leisure.

Planning the Future

A massive thanks to the Y10 students from King’s Academy who spent the day here trialling one of next year’s events. Without giving too much away they attempted a logistical planning task that will be differentiated to target a range of age groups at an appropriate level. King’s did the full fat, big maths version which required embedding their mathematical understanding into a real world situation and making ethical dec visions that they could justify.

The result?

The feedback from this event will help to ensure that the task is better structured and achievable when we run it from September. And on that note, we should have the dates out very soon….

Greenpower Day 2: Ready to Race

IMG_2549After a full on Day 1 all of the cars have the main body built and many also have 4 wheels attached. As I type several schools have already arrived and are getting straight back on task.  Hopefully by lunchtime several cars will be ready for an installation run along our temporary track. As with yesterday we will livestream the event during the day but we will also try and squeeze in some live interviews at some point too. We also have exciting news this morning that we will be supporting both the Croft event on 26th June and the Great Exhibition of the North event in July where the cars will be racing. We should have live interviews and possibly a running live feed for some of the day too. Seeing these cars being put together so expertly with the help of Mike and the Greenpower volunteers is amazing. If you would like to support in any way, even by just dropping in to see what is happening, please let us know.

The race track awaits…


Today’s livestream:

And some live interviews:

And our first test runs:

A time lapse of the build days:

Well done to everyone involved today. Not every car got to the point of a test run but most weren’t far off. I think the pics below show the sense of achievement with those that did though!

Greenpower: Start our engines!!!

IMG_2513Yes it is finally here! Fourteen Tees Valley schools took the offer of a heavily subsidised opportunity to take possession of an electric racing car that they will build and then race around Croft and Newcastle Quayside as part of the Great Exhibition of the North. They have two build days here at Inspire2Learn  and then will complete bodywork back in school before the first race trials in June. We have a live feed all day for both days and will constantly upload images to complement.

Massive thanks to Greenpower, The Reece Foundation and CSI for making this possible both financially and logistically.

Just popped back in after setting up a VR system at a school and look at the progress that  has been made already!

Looking for animation week?

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 21.23.33Well, like the poetry work before you, this is not the right place.

We created the Creative Den to celebrate culturally focussed work that schools take part in. In fact, if you would like your creative work in school celebrated, please contact us to upload some pictures and information. We know that this builds self esteem and confidence for pupils enormously, give it a go, it certainly doesn’t hurt!

So to access our wonderful creative work in schools, click below:


Stockton Entrepreneurs?

img_2221It was lovely to welcome three schools from Stockton LA to the centre today. White House, The Glebe and Roseberry Primaries came as a single group to take on our Enterprise Challenge. Enterprise skills cover a huge range of different areas but we focussed today on using effective teamwork, creativity and audience analysis to underpin our ‘Dad LEGO set’ task. After identifying key techniques that are used in adverts, the children then created their own product based on value propositions they had identified for the target audience. As usual the audience was focussed on me, well, ‘Dads, Uncles, Teachers’ about my age. Focussing their products appropriately is always a challenge and the dialogue to keep them focussed on a different point of view is essential. The teachers were a great support for the children with this. It takes time to develop the ability to see things from a radically different point of view and this was just their first attempt in this way.

As you can see from the pics below the children really got stuck in and it was lovely to see them using members of other groups to create the adverts that you will see below around 3pm!

You are in the wrong place!

IMG_2061Looking for Michael?

Read on…

Many of you may not be aware of the exciting new home for all things cultural and educational in the Tees Valley. One of the fundamental aims of this website is to celebrate achievements by pupils and help build their self esteem. We know this is a cornerstone of a successful mindset. We also know that there are loads of amazing events, interactions and initiatives going on between schools, colleges and the cultural sector. So, working with many of the organisations in the Tees Valley who do this on a regular basis, we have created a new home that celebrates those achievements and also informs other schools of what they could be doing to help develop a broad and balanced cultural offer to their pupils.

It is called the Creative Den and can be found by clicking on the icon below:

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 21.33.14

If you have done anything involving the arts that you would like to see celebrated to a wider audience, please contact us and we will be happy to include it on the site. We know that celebrating children’s work in this wider context has a much bigger impact on their self esteem than just through school channels. We do expect all safeguards are in place in terms of who is included though!

Contact us:

Today’s fantastic poetry launch pics and video featuring Michael Rosen and pupils from  over 40 of our schools can be found there.

Inspiring NE Film


What a fabulous day we have had at Inspire2Learn today. Following a chance meeting (if there ever is such a thing) with Jacqui Miller-Charlton and Craig Conway a few weeks ago at a Tees Valley Business Club event, we hosted an inspirational day of film to link with the Newcastle International Film Festival. Jacqui and Craig had come down to Teesside to talk about the festival but also articulate the vision that media production NE is something that is sadly lacking at the moment and such a waste of talent. They wanted to include the whole of the NE under the festival banner and use it to drive some change. This is the sort of activity that Inspire2Learn is designed to support so I offered to run a film making day and perhaps Craig as a well known local actor would be able to Skype in and talk to the students at some point?

The answer was no.

Instead he offered to actually come down and work with a group of students on a masterclass. I did point out that this was probably the busiest day of his life with the festival opening that night but he was adamant. He was coming. That sort of passion and commitment stands out for me and I used the offer as the basis of a showcase event. Knowing that students from one of our local colleges has a film nominated at the festival (amongst many other awards it is up for!), I invited Kelly Fairhurst, their inspirational tutor at Stockton Riverside College, to bring a group of young actors to work with Craig.

The event was designed around showcasing the talent in the area and also inspiring the next generation of film makers so I also invited another inspirational teacher, Matt Turnbull, and his students from Hillsview Academy to come and be part of the day. That meant we had students who are already into professional qualifications level working with students who are coming up to their GCSE choices. We do a fair bit of film work here at the centre and that is something that will increase next year because this day was merely the start of our association with the Newcastle festival. What all of us agreed when we first met is that a showcase day is great but a systematic programme of events for all ages was key to creating the change that is needed.

But back to today. Craig came for an hour….well, it was the longest hour I’ve ever timed. Working on audition pieces with the college age actors, having a long discussion with the nominated film makers and then a Q&A session with the Y9s, he was a brilliant guest and truly inspirational. You can see from the montage below:

Mat led the opening warm up sessions with all of the students and then while SRC took part in a masterclass,  we worked with the Hillsview students to learn iMovie so that they would have the skills to create a short project later. After Craig eventually had to leave, the students were put into mixed groups and challenged with TalkingUpTeesside. It was a very tight schedule to script, film and edit something that looked any good in essentially 75mins but it was brilliant too see how the groups gelled really well with everyone having input of ideas and sharing roles:

I think the films below are incidental to the learning that went on today. Compromise, team working, developing skills as needed, problem solving….just a few examples of the sort of skills and attitudes that they needed to employ to get anywhere near finishing something.

This day was a showcase. A start. Look out for our more progessive programme next year starting at primary and working upwards. Now enjoy today’s work…

Enterprise Challenge March 2018

What a busy, busy day we had today with the fabulous pupils from Rift House in Hartlepool and Sacred Heart in Redcar. It was great mix having Y6 and 7 attempting the same task. By the time they had identified key techniques that marketeers use to convince us that we need something new, they were ready to produce their own work employing those techniques. I challenged them  little in that i asked them to focus their product on a different target audience to themselves. To succeed they needed to identify the value propositions that would appeal to their audience then refine them into a USP that would make their product stand out.

Once the product was designed they were able to shoot a short advert for it. Unfortunately due to the bus situation Rift House were only able to work here until 1.45 so it was a miracle that any of them got more than a handful of shots completed. But they did. Some are missing voiceovers, some whole scenes but I have uploaded their playlist below because what they did get done was using what they had learned. If only we had three days!

Sacred Heart were here for the full day and had a little more time to polish their work. It even allowed some of the groups the luxury of employing a chroma effect to make their product really stand out. But for me what really stands out is that all of the groups used some of the techniques that we had earlier identified: relatability, role models that match the audience, special offers etc. And that is what matters after a day like today, do they understand how to see someone else’s point of view and act accordingly?

That is a skill worth developing for all of us.