Tag Archives: Education

A featured article from our current archive:

Writing in The Guardian in late 2014 the author Rupert Wallis was minded to tell us that ‘…more and more not-so- young adults are reading YA fiction’ –  which he declared was no bad thing. He went on…

‘The power of YA fiction to generate an emotional resonance around death should not be underestimated in UK society, where young adults spend a lot of time immersed in the artificial realities of cyberspace and gaming’.

Source: The Guardian, 18th August 2014.

Ellen Lives On - cover image and web link
Buy this book here, with free delivery…

Lynda Haddock, in her first novel, has wonderfully underscored the sentiment with her first novel Ellen Lives On. The book features the journey, the exploration of a new life and the acquisition of a new set of values, by the teenager Ellen.

For Ellen the journey is mapped from the suicide of her mother, an emergent rally to the cause of education and her exodus to the Metropolis in search new friends, political engagement and the forming of a new identity for herself.

‘One way of tackling the difficult questions raised by death is to feel connected to one another in addressing them, to feel human together…’ writes Wallis in his article. Indeed, the sensitively written, clear narrative from Lynda Haddock stirs up the emotions and will clearly illuminate a shared experience for teenagers suffering loss.

Buy this book, with free shipping here…

The new novel was enjoyed by the Books go Walkabout team in our office. Sue Martin, writing for our new season book list opined…

”A desperately moving novel about a young girl whose life changes forever when she returns home to find that her mother has committed suicide.

Ellen, a scholarship girl at a local grammar school in the 1970’s, finds that life is uncomfortable and fraught as soon as you are no longer the ‘norm’ pupil, let alone the trauma of discovering that she is alone in the world. Alone, that is, apart from her Grandfather, who is elderly and lives a long way from Ellen.

Taken in by her aunt and uncle, Ellen finds the welcome is short lived and that she is a burden to the family, simply used as the girl in the house to do all the chores. Her uncle tells her the sooner she finishes school and starts a job the sooner she can pay for her living.

After a series of heart-wrenching problems with friends, teachers and those who were meant to be supporting her, Ellen goes on the run. She finds friendship with people in a squat, her grandfather is taken into hospital and she abandons any hope of a career with prospects.

Eventually Social Services find Ellen and her life starts to rebuild, but never back to where it was and with very little hope of the future that had been planned.

A moving and poignant story for Young Adults and a thought provoking debut novel for Lynda Haddock.”

It is also, in its way, a primer for adults, the ‘not so young’ in Wallis’s narrative, to recognise the strains and pains of a teenager going through this crisis, such is the insight afforded the reader of any age by Lynda Haddock’s writing.

Lynda Haddock’s work joins a solid tradition of novels that seek to offer reflection and a way forward in the face of death and loss. From The Fault in Our Stars by John Green to Jacqueline Wilson’s Vicky Angel – the Haddock narrative deals with death, yes, but also in the exploration of self, equality and values – all of which are significant markers for young adults as they march forward into the 21st Century.

For Wallis ‘…the true significance of death in YA is that authors are reflecting back what they see everyday; namely, that death is ominously prevalent these days, whether in fiction or a national news broadcast or the obituary columns‘.

This is certainly true of the author Lynda Haddock, whose professional life before her novel encompassed education and the specialist support of children experiencing difficulty in their lives. The storytelling resonates with it.

The experience tellingly shows in the novel Ellen Lives On, and we hope it might become a staple of your library of resources – tendering a way into loss and bereavement that will be recognised by any teenager, whatever their culture, age or background.

Editor’s Note:

We would commend Lynda Haddock’s publisher to note that the YA Book Prize for 2019 is now open for nominations.

You can discover the latest updates to the YA Book Prize here.

Publishers can find the YA Book Prize terms and conditions and how to apply details here.

We loved this book, buy a copy and explore challenging and stirring landscapes of the teenage mind.

The conversationsEAST team.

Our team also deliver international author and illustrator visits and exchanges through our Books go Walkabout project. Find out more here…

You can also discover reviews and features for younger readers on Book Monitor, our BgW review pages. See more here...

Enlightenment in the East of England

We have been sinking deep into the sofa in the evenings to follow the craft, technique and skill offered to viewers in the BBC 2 broadcast The Repair Shop.

Myglassroom, Surinder Warboys course in stained glass
Artistry, craft technique and civility – the perfect workshop course…

As well as offering craft and artistry of the highest calibre, the programme is the perfect antidote and respite  from a stressful day at the office, that meeting you regret or that article idea that will not congeal yet in a tired mind.

In Mellis, Suffolk the workshop at Myglassroom is offering the opportunity to engage with this craft and artistry in stained glass creation.

Myglassroom: a studio committed to achieving excellence in contemporary architectural stained glass, conservation & restoration. Established 1990 by Surinder Warboys, Stained glass artist and conservator’.

Architectural Stained Glass /Painting on Glass Courses

One day taster sessions in painting and staining:

Saturday 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th Sept. 2018    10am – 4pm  IP23 8EE

You can discover more about Surinder Warboys one day courses, contact the workshop for details of fees applicable and to see the work of recent ‘glass’ students…see more at http://www.myglassroom.com/index.html

The essayist Robert Louis Stevenson said that ‘…no man lives in the external truth among salts and acids, but in the warm, phantasmagoric chamber of his brain, with the painted windows and the storied wall‘.

What better than a trip to Mellis in glorious Suffolk, in order to craft your own idea?

(…whatever your gender…Ed.)

 Can you help create business builders for the next generation?

Linking Education and Business – A New Approach

Continuing our thematic coverage of new ways to support young people and the education and training sector, we were very pleased to see the emerging detail of the Enterprise Adviser Network for schools in Norfolk and Suffolk. Members of the business community volunteering some time to support schools in developing their enterprise agenda.

This cross-counties initiative is supported by the national Careers and Enterprise Company and is delivered by Norfolk County Council & Suffolk County Council.

emailIcon4Contact the project in our region here:  CareersEnterpriseCompany@suffolk.gov.uk

careersEnterpriseCompanyButtonA new national programme is taking shape across Norfolk and Suffolk that aims to adopt an innovative approach to bringing business and education closer together. The New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network aims to connects local high profile business leaders with senior leaders in local secondary schools, academies, colleges in order to helping to motivate and inspire young peoples’ career aspirations, to make a major impact on their work prospects.

Enterprise Advisers will be volunteer leaders from the Suffolk and Norfolk business community. Their role will be to provide strategic consultancy and advice to schools and colleges to improve employer engagement and careers guidance provision and thereby help bridge the gap between education and business, raise young peoples’ aspirations and enhance enterprise and employability skills.

Suffolk County Councillor Gordon Jones, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills said: “We do need to increase the interaction between the education and the business community, making sure Suffolk school children have the skill set required to find work and prove themselves valuable assets to commercial companies”.

New Anglia Local Enterprise PartnershipMark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, commented: “If we want to compete and win on a world stage we need to deliver a higher skilled workforce for our growing economy and for the all the thousands of outstanding companies, innovators and entrepreneurs that are already based here and for the many more we want to attract. We can help do that by placing business leaders at the heart of the education system, to inspire young minds when they are seeking out their future paths and looking to match their talents and aspirations with a high value and rewarding career.”

The New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network is supported by five Enterprise Coordinators who will provide business leaders, schools and colleges with a professional service which includes high quality training, matching Enterprise Advisers to schools and colleges and extensive, ongoing support.

The network has been created with support from the national Careers and Enterprise Company and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, working through its partners in Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, delivering this national programme in the East.

Could you be an Enterprise Adviser?

The project is looking for enthusiastic business people across Norfolk and Suffolk to work with schools to help our young people understand the connection between their education and the world of work.

If you have the motivation and dedication to help young people find out more about the opportunities for their future career please get in touch…

emailIcon4 CareersEnterpriseCompany@suffolk.gov.uk

Content for this article courtesy of Suffolk County Council.

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Here at conversationsEAST we are delighted to be able to donate web hosting, design and content creation services and new media support to this new, nascent movement.

Inequality in Education – turning the tide (IETT) is about change in the educational landscape and improving equality of opportunity and outcome for children and young people across England.

interneticon  You can see the new IETT web presence here

You can follow IETT news on Twitter too:   @Tide_Turning

The web site features not only regular news and featured ideas on the pages of The Tide, the IETT web journal, but also regular newsfeeds from a variety of sources across the education landscape.

Monographia is a growing web resource of research papers and conference contributions that mark key themes for IETT groups. The Debate – filmed is a growing archive of videos that go to the nascent movement’s campaigning and research aims.

If you have an interest in educational reform, or the social inequality agenda, we commend this site to you…Ed.


Developing your project web presence?

The conversationsEAST team are keen to offer web support to socially focused web projects in the East of England.

We are particularly happy to support projects led by RSA Fellows, as our donating Partners at SmithMartin LLP, are keen supporters of the Society. We would also like to support the planned development of IETT groups in Nottingham and Oxford.

See our project web offer at conversationsEAST here and contact us for more help, if we can.

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Pasi Sahlberg addresses his audience…

A year has now passed since in April 2014 the Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg – discover his work here… and Peter Mortimer – see a collection of his articles in the The Guardian, UK, ex-Director of the London Institute of Education, met to discuss with a London audience the testing subject of Inequality in English Education.

With an ever increasing press for change in social and economic inequality and the drive for more standardisation and accountability by test, the time is absolutely right, we would argue, to spread the work of the Equality in Education Network that emerged that day in April 2014.

The short film linked below, from the event, shows Pasi Sahlberg delivering a critique of  GERM, the Global Education Reform Movement. Although presented with a light touch, the argument bites deep. GERM offers no improvement in educational outputs overall, he argues.

See the movie on YouTube   You can see the original talk by Pasi Sahlberg on YouTube here…

‘Competition is seen as the right way, striving for pan-education standardisation and test based accountability is now the norm. Education is seen as an industry, a business opportunity…’ Pasi Sahlberg 2014

Pasi develops his argument by looking at two key themes. Inequality and equity. In the frst case, using Finnish data he argues that the Finnish system of tax distribution and social equality has had a profound performance effect on education in his country. In the affluent West, he argues, those nations that have the highest levels of inequality have the lowest quality educational outcomes.

In the second case, equity, the presenter’s data is used to analyse how international education systems serve all the children of a nation. What is the aggregate benefit to a nation by educational system? Here Pasi illustrates the dramatic journey of Finland again, tracking forty years of improving educational attainment . Often within the context of a turbulent socio-political landscape.

Mr. Sahlberg astonishes his audience by announcing that he has read all five volumes of the most recent PISA Report – find key OECD findings on-line here…, at five hundred pages a volume. He has discovered, despite the policy debate and process changes that recently emerged in the UK, two key PISA recommendations – found in the fourth volume.

  • School choice and competition are not related to performance.
  • Greater equity and autonomy over curricula and assessment seem to improve performance.

The speaker closes  his argument with five key recommendations about the delivery of a nation’s educational infrastructure. Although not revolutionary, they are seemingly perhaps counter intuitive at first,  when assessed against current UK policy and practice, we would argue.

  1. Co-operation is key – collaborative work should be the driving force across teaching, political activity, headships and governance in schooling.
  2. Place less stress on early learning, and much more focus on play.
  3. Be less confrontational, the key players in education should always strive for consensus.
  4. Achieve less accountability, but make, what systems there are, trust based.
  5. Have less school ‘choice‘ and strive always for a more equitable school system.

This is a telling case for Equality in Education.

Call to Action:

At conversationsEAST we would like to support the work of John Bayley and his colleagues in the nascent, London based, Equality in Education Network.

Is there an opportunity for a network group in the East of England?

Make contact with us through our ‘contact us’ slider above and we’ll let the Eastern Region team, and John, know of your interest. We should have an event in the region to revivify the discourse?

Other items of interest on this topic…

You can see and listen to Peter Mortimer’s talk, at the same event, on Inequality in English Education here. Again, delivered in gentle terms, but with a telling cutting edge about current policy.

See the movie on YouTube  See Peter Mortimer speak on Inequality in English Education here…

Finally, if the need to examine global inequality issues has grabbed you, it is well worth revisiting The Spirit Level. You can see Richard Wilkinson speaking  at TED below…


Kingfishers Bridge Wetlands Project
Looking across the project…

A small group of Fellows were this week able to take advantage of an invitation to visit and see the work of the team at Kingfishers Bridge Wetland Project .

Situated close to Wicken Fen, this sanctuary, developed from privately held land, is both a successful conservation area and a test-bed for experimental conservation methodologies.

James Page and Andy Dunn gave fellows a guided tour through the conservation landscape, which was both informative and telling about the efficacy of landscape management of this high order. Some of the insights we gained are offered below.

The Project team manage a wide variety of habitats in a relatively small area. The topography of the site falls away from a limestone ridge, which itself is an ancient coral reef, through chalk grassland areas and peat deposits. There is a plethora of lake-side, dyke margin and reed bed coverage across the site too.

Clay banks are used to prevent site inundation, the area being part of the River Cam flood plain. There is an interesting spoil mound, with a track rising to the summit, where viewing ‘hides’ are to be found and the view from the top offers great views of both the whole of the wetlands project area, but also across the surrounding fen and river network.

This surrounding area is typical grass wetland, with some of the tree cover being recently removed, and the new development includes ponds which are linked to the agricultural drainage ditches. The whole water course development is designed to remove straight lines from the landscape. These betray the sites farmland origins, but the additional work also denies predatory birds a clear flight path to their prey.

Inquisitive buffalo…

One really interesting aspect of the grazing management is the deployment of Konic horses, the Polish primitive horse, as well as a small herd of Water Buffalo. This latter creature is adept at exploring the reed beds across the conservation site, and its dietary habits keep the reed beds appropriately cropped and seasonally refreshed…with appropriate site management control, of course.

As a closed site, water management is a key aspect of managing the rise and fall of levels across the seasons. The setting clay banks and ‘elbow pipe’ systems simply divert water which is drawn from a nearby limestone quarry, a simple system which regulates levels and flow across the reserve.

This aquatic draw down from their neighbour allows Kingfishers Bridge to draw in alkali water, which is nutrient free, stimulating the growth of the site’s invertebrate population. The entire site is surrounded by an impressive electric fence, which serves to keep predators away from the reserve areas.

Looking through the reed-beds…

It is clear that this thoughtful, well managed approach to conservation across the bio-chain is a significant constituent to the success of the reserve. This ‘sanctuarial’ approach, with a well managed predator control/exclusion programme, see herons nesting on the site and a wide variety of birds, bats and plant life proliferating to interest the invited visitor.

One wonderful example of how this management expertise can transform the landscape is the Water Germanda (Teucrium scordium L.) The Kingfishers Bridge site held the last twelve plants of the species in the East of England. Water management techniques on the site now see, it is currently estimated, over two million specimens growing in the wider landscape.

We understand the site is keen to develop their support of educational visits from schools. it was profoundly satisfying to hear that the conservation team at Kingfishers Bridge actively engage children and young people in site measurement and surveys. A process which enables children to actively contribute real data to the site management process.

To explore educational visit opportunities further you can find the Kingfishers Bridge Contact Us page here – http://www.kingfishersbridge.org/contact-us.html

The adult volunteer and supporter is not left out either. Supporters of the project can gain exclusive access to project services, as well as make their own contribution to site surveys and measurements.

The Project does seek donations to keep the good work going and you can find both work party information and how to donate as a Project Supporter here – http://www.kingfishersbridge.org/how-to-help.html

Specific development projects are dependent upon sponsorship and the ‘Kingfishers’ team would be happy to explore their current opportunities with interested supporters.

Whether as a Fellow with a bio-science specialism, or as a passionate general supporter of eco-conservation projects, there is much to delight and do in concert with the Kingfishers Bridge team. (We really enjoyed our morning in the Fen..Ed).

Kingfishers Bridge Wetland Creation Trust,
Kingfishers Bridge, Wicken, Ely, Cambs. CB7 5XL
Charity No 1078882
Discover the project on-line – http://www.kingfishersbridge.org/



Fellows in the East of England are able to take part in a range of events and occasions. Visit our pages regularly, subscribe to our newsfeed or bookmark our regional events programme web page here…



This interesting new RSA Animate looks at a revolution that is needed in teacher development. Work consigns teachers, it argues, to becoming victims who are trapped by the systems they operate within.

The goal should be to make change-makers, who are authors of their own pedagogy.

The essay collection which supports the argument posits that schools are conditioned by a command and control culture, which ignores creativity in delivery. The teacher, it argues, strives to educate whilst coping with a top down culture of compliance.

Creative Education Reports, ov. 2014
Get the essays here…

To best serve learners, and the professional development needs of teachers, there should be a methodology available that echoes and supports the research which shows students, who have the best teachers, can learn at twice the rate of other students.

This accompanying essays, Licensed to Create: Ten essays on improving teacher quality is edited by Joe Hallgarten, Louise Bamfield and Kenny McCarthy.

The final essay from the collection is by Tristram Hunt, Shadow Secretary of State for Education. In the introduction to The Rationale for Revalidation: a movement to transform teaching, Hunt states…

The teaching profession is changing. One year into this job there are few things of which I am more certain. If this collection of essays achieves nothing else then it will be to highlight how the energy unleashed by this cultural shift has the potential to become a force for far-reaching education reform.

Whether you are just beginning your professional teaching career, ending it or are just passionate about education…there is much to think about in this RSA report.


To echo the perceptive analysis in this collection of essays, and to underscore how the change in pedagogy, the re-processing of education in general for the benefit of future generations is an ongoing project. We re-looked at Ken Robinson’s TED Talk How to Escape Education’s Death Valley.

Robinson, speaking and living in the USA, argues for change to support young people who drop out of school, and those who remain it, but who stay disengaged from the education process.

This is not a new message from Ken Robinson, but it is witty and discursive as well as telling, placing the young person at the centre of change in education.

A nice counterpoint to, and contextualision of, the thought processes and ideas revealed in our RSA essay collection above.

(Narrative updated 15:05 / 26.11.2014)


Cambridge Education Initiative


A group of Cambridge Fellows is developing an initiative to improve educational outcomes for young people in the City’s deprived areas.

Although, overall, Cambridge is one of the UK’s – and the world’s – most successful cities, it has pockets of deprivation and the educational performance of some of its schools is below the national average. Children who are eligible for free school meals and who have special needs or other challenges, including looked after children and young carers, are at the highest risk of underachieving.

We have been talking to Council officers and plan to meet Headteachers in the autumn term. The emerging features of our initiative are

  • A place in Cambridge where deprivation is accompanied by underachievement. Arbury meets these criteria.
  • A group of RSA fellows prepared to commit time to a targeted intervention to raise achievement, working with the local community and voluntary organisations
  • Alignment with Council priorities
  • Developed by listening to head teachers, young people, the local community/ voluntary organisations
  • Time limited
  • Replicable

We would welcome contributions from other Fellows.

If you live in the Cambridge area, you are very welcome to join our group. Or if elsewhere, please share your ideas and experience.

emailIcon4 Contact   Sam Weller: samandmary_weller@hotmail.com; or Jo Durning: jodurning@btinternet.com


In the last two weeks the BBC have launched a new set of web pages and content dedicated to the arts. The material , as you would expect from the Corporation, is diverse and stimulating, with a fresh feel in terms of web layout and visual impact we thought. It draws upon television, radio  and web outputs to create a new miscellany.

Below are some of the items we have found interesting at conversationsEAST this week.

Both are of a historical bent, with historian Niall Ferguson opining on how young students now see and re-act to the First World War. A topical segment from the 2014 Hay Festival, with brief contributions from Rosie Boycott and Kate Adie.

Niall Ferguson, ever controversial, begins by describing the teaching of history about the First World War in the UK as, essentially, education about the Home Front. The lack of familial links for young people to the events of 1914 onwards make the story of the Battle of the Somme as relevant as the Battle of Thermopylae, thus the concentration on social history.

The Ferguson thesis on how students see The First World War is encouragingly developed to include how contemporary learners, Ferguson argues, are now very interested in strategic calculation and miscalculation.

This is a credible argument for a return to interest in the prevailing political frameworks by students of 1914. The less comfortable summation is completed by references to the teaching of the impact of the First World War as a video game…perhaps something of an unfortunate trivialisation of all the stories of loss, destruction and bravery that will emerge as the centenary of the conflict is remembered this year?

Have  a look at the clip above and see if you agree?

You can see details of Changing Chelmsford’s First World War: Then and Now programme on our projects page. This is a Lottery funded project between RSA Fellows and the local Civic Society which pertinently concentrates on the historical context of the Home Front, under-scoring the very real social and economic impact of war to the Fellows credit…despite the Fergusonian treatise on domestic history above.

We also found on the new BBC Arts site a page link dedicated to the Scottish novelist, Denise Mina, who has created a social history film about her family, inviting them all to see the finished output at the Glasgow Film Theatre. See more here on this BBC Scotland web page.

Image of novelist Denise Mina
See Scottish novelist Denise Mina talking about her film project here…

We loved the fact that the project was filmed on a smartphone, with very modest funding. The finished piece will be premiered today at the Go North Festival in Inverness.

We thought what a great project, harnessing the power of ubiquitous modern technology, to create a story about a community. An ideal medium for a local arts/history project for Fellows in the region perhaps? Detailing the currency of everyday lives, to to be made enduringly available on the web.

We warmed to the new BBC Arts amalgam and will revisit its news feed regularly. See more here…


Image credit:

News Desk image by Markus Winkler, Creative Commons, Unsplash...