Want to join us fixing secondary school? call Luke on 078 278 11139

Friday, December 16, 2011

We have created the brief for the Change The Future pitch website.

this details what we want our web builders to do.

This image shows the page that lists our Supporters. Most are who we want, but some of them are real now, such as David Gribble, Derry Hannam, ESSA and O2

Luke at TEDx London

When Luke went to TEDx London, he met some great people and was inspired by some great talks.
Here's a short sneaky video to give you a sense of the place:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meeting the education Guru

Today was an exciting day because I met with Derry Hannam.

He's a really important person to me because he is
  • an ex-Ofsted inspector
  • ex-Headteacher/Deputy head
  • Occasional government advisor on Education policy
  • Author and researcher
  • lovely
He's also a real advocate of alternative approaches to education although he works and focuses on the mainstream as opposed to residing in a bubble of hippy schools.
When I arrived he was just finishing an email essentially advising the dutch government on how to inspect Sudbury Valley schools. (In many ways, more radical that my democratic school)

 Asides from a random bird watching excursion he took me on at the mouth of Southampton, we were pretty thick in ChangeTheFuture for 2 days.
He was completely amazing and gave me many exciting leads we're following now.
I feel like it's coming together. Charlie and I just need to put in the time.

It's largely about finding a lead web developer now. All the other tasks feel within arms reach, largely thanks to Derry.

Derry convinced us to definitely include primary school.
"You can't just not listen to what a 10 year old  has to offer just cause they're a year too young to be in secondary school. The problems reach beyond secondary education."

IDEC, Grib, MY MOTHER and moving to Brighton

So I spent a couple of weeks at IDEC - the International Democratic Education Conference, this year held in England, by my old school Sands.
These are the Sands student volunteers!

I've been to 2 before (India and Berlin) and they were pretty great with an awesome bunch of people, though I've always found it a tiny bit like preaching to the choir/people slapping each other on the back or at least just being in a bit of a bubble... It's such a fundamental need of mine for beautiful education to be accessible to everyone, not just those who can afford to pay for it privately, which is what all these democratic schools (in England at least) have to be, cause the government can't get their head round them.

I held a workshop on ChangeTheFuture
where I invited people to critique the idea.

It was cool getting different peoples' ideas and particularly hearing the things they thought were the biggest risks...

There were some amazing speakers including Yaacov Hecht who is like mr Democratic Education of Israel and in particular a guy called Derry Hannam, who I was really impressed by.

He was a great speaker, kinda like Ken Robinson; enjoyed himself, but full of information and interesting and challenging ideas. I decided I needed to meet up with him to discuss ChangeTheFuture.

Before this, I would meet up with David Gribble; essentially the founder of Sands to talk about how CTF is shaping up. He's like my grandad, and always fun and inspiring to chat to about education (or anything) and learn about what books and things he's working on.

My mum's on the left.
She's realised her dream of horses suddenly a few years ago- something she was unable to do as a little girl in Rhodesia. Now she's swapped her last bits of money for a field of Rocky mountain horses.

She's always been really straight with me when I've not done things as well as I could have.
As a kid, I'd come to her showing off a drawing I did, and she'd usually say "Hm. Yeah it's alright I suppose" and she was right. And I'd do it again, better. She's a harsh critic, but also one of the most overwhelming knowledgable people; like an bottomless pit of information about politics and history and has a strong history of activism.

My brother works as a teacher, and my half brother (on my dad's side works in film)..my dad (who I only met when I was 12) is a bit more technical/computer savvy, doing graphic design. They're all people who enjoy a good debate in politics and have strong ideas about things. It's just mad that I am so much like all of them.

Moving to Brighton
I now live in a house of 10. Boys & Girls, half students and half not.
We had a housewarming BBQ with the neighbours who've just moved in :]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

TEDx London brief excitement from Charlie

Luke has managed to get into the TEDxLondon event today. The theme was Education Revolution!

TEDx London website

He has let people know about us and our plans to create a system that will bring all people together, particularly students, in reshaping secondary education.

We are at a very exciting moment right now. It feels like we are tip-toeing on the edge of a spring board, just gathering the last bits of courage before diving deep.

Very shortly, we will be needing lots of help from people - searching for super talented web designers/system developers, helping us spread the word, getting funding, getting artists involved, creating pitch videos, figuring out how to become an official organisation, etc

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How closely my school (not that i'm there any more but it will always be my school) matches the
the Guardian are doing

plus some photos i took at sands : ]


Active 9/10– students built climbing wall in school + do quite a lot of trips out swimming, climbing, etc. 2 treehouses, allotments, not massive grounds cause it’s a smallish school which receives no state funding and has many students from poor backgrounds, but it works!
occasional martial arts lessons etc – just ask for them in the meeting and they’ll happen if enough people want
  Calm 9/10 – lots of zones for socialising or reading a book on a sofa (and put some music on the cd player/watch a film anytime) all rooms like music room are always open, summerhouse the students made. No bells – you have to be on top of your schedule; no one will come get you

Comfortable 10/10 – carpeted and loads of sofas! But no slippers – you wear socks upstairs

Creative and colourful 9/10 – art room is always open – lots of things to do; crazy hobbit-like hive of creative stuff; students art in most rooms of school and sculptures all over the place!

Expert 9/10 – teachers truly passionate; listen as much as speak – allowing lessons to digress if students are fascinated with something and go off on a tangent. Fun/silly/hands on most of the time. No celebs though!

Flexible 9/10 – lessons aren’t cumpulsory at sands (though no one really misses the key subjects because they’re well taught, and any reasons for not attending are heard and solved)
it’s probably most often art that people continue with after the lesson’s ended, as they’re really wrapped up in what they’re doing and really want to finish it while inspired

Friendly 10/10 – no assemblies – we have school meetings where we make all the decisions a head teacher would (including things like hiring/sacking staff) – students and staff get one vote each. Everyone called by 1st name. staff are more like uncles and aunts that you look up to and think are amazing and wise and clever and funny

Listening 10/10 – after being in a school that’s run by the students and seeing how well it works and ultimately how much everyone who went there loved it and is doing such amazing things now as adults; I see school councils as a weak second best (but can still be loads better than most current schools)

Inclusive 10/10 –this is easier for sands because it’s less than 100 people; but the det fri gymnasium in Copenhagen is basically sands with a thousand students, so clearly this personalised approach and democratic operation is scalable

International 8/10 – students help make lunch and they’re a mix of mostly local produce and things from the school allotments! Could probably be more world dishes though.

Outside 8/10 – yeah, quite a lot of out of school things happen, particularly when it’s sunny, like heading to spitchwick where everyone leaps of the cliffs into the stream, or going for georgraphy walk-picnics on Dartmoor and studying funguses

Technological 5/10 – definitely no budget for anything like this. People are very welcome to use their own kit though.. and don’t abuse mp3 players and stuff

What the perfect school would have

No homework – yes. home work isn’t compulsory but it is allowed

A flexible timetable – yes? there’s still a timetable but it isn’t compulsory, there’s CHOICE sessions and the timetable’s obviously up for debate if you have an issue with it

An hour-long lunchbreak – yep. School finishes at 4:30 though (includes 15 mins of everyone cleaning their allocated area of the school – no cleaners to clean up after us!)

Pets – yess Huw the welsh science teacher usually has his dog running around!

First-aid lessons – yes ish.. we used to do these, haven’t seen them for a while

A choice of uniform – yes? no uniform unsurprisingly ; )
also pretty much no bullying. I think people only want others to suffer when they’re suffering

After-school clubs in all sorts of subjects
not really. Could happen if a few people asked for it but we have long days and everyone’s ready to go home I think

Hot dinners- yes hot lunches 90% of time

An iPad for each pupil. No! kinda silly though? That’d be about 30 billion pounds for every student

A football field - yep

Fewer tests – it still does GCSEs (unlike Acorn in Gloucestershire whichis worth looking at)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Some thoughts about why we need the school system REVOLUTIONised (from Charlie)

HomeI was lying in bed this morning just thinking about my days at school, which for the most part I tell myself I was happy; I must have been; I had a couple of best friends who were really great and I got on with most of my teachers; my school was a pretty decent as far as schools go; but then I started replaying some memories. One particular memory is my drama teacher shouting at me so much that it brought me to tears, all just because of some coursework that he’d been told I hadn’t done. If he had stopped to let me speak for any point before his explosion of disappointment and anger, I could have saved him the trouble of shouting at me, as I’d done the work anyway; he just hadn’t got the news yet. So there I was walking away shaking and upset and emotionally punished for something that just wasn’t a problem anyway. This sort of authoritative disrespectful behaviour is pretty much encouraged by our education system. To be fair, this rarely happened to me: I usually got on with my work quietly and non-disruptively like the perfect little school boy. Too many kids are too quiet in school; it rewards non-collaboration, silence, obedience, uniformity.
I was then playing back a moment soon after that in a lesson with the same drama teacher; his problem is that he thinks he’s helping us - kind of like Nurse Ratched perhaps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_Ratched) But he's not really a horrible person at all, he's generally a nice bloke and rather friendly to me; he just takes the current educational system too seriously.

In the lesson:
So there are about 10 of us sat in a drama room, yearning to have something creative happening in it, but instead we’re being put through one of our intensive 2-hour essay training sessions; we talk about exams for a bit, then we have to get on with the task and complete three 30 minute essays in the remaining hour and a half (with absolutely no break in between). Doesn’t sound so bad, but just step back and think about what’s happening:
there are 10 brilliantly creative people here, not because they want to write essays, but because they love to perform. But remember this was not a one off; instead of being allowed to practice what we want to try in life: acting and performing and being creative; we are being forced to spend all of our dedicated 3 hours of drama in the whole school week to train in efficient bullshitting of the third kind. These essays aren’t helping us think about anything interesting or useful – they’re just pure Ducking bullshaft, only created because drama had to be seen as an “academic” subject and not “just acting,” which of course is not good enough for the government, I mean training to jump through the hoops to becoming a teacher so you can teach how to become a teacher in teaching this ever spiralling loop of continuous useless vacuous bollocks is obviously more of a fulfilling use of time than actually acting and doing something DUCKING CREATIVE for a change, surely?! Then I imagined myself in that scene again just thinking about the usefulness of the task, but instead of blindly following orders, like I did too often in that school, I would decide, after about 30 minutes in, to stand up, put my pen down and just rip up the first essay that I had written, nice and loudly so everyone could hear what I was doing. Looking at my highly bemused teacher, I would say, “I don’t want to take part in this.”
He gets angry (his only available response) and tells me in a hush voice, “Charlie, continue.”
But I won’t continue today. “No. Look at us. What the DUCK are we doing? It’s weird, it’s not natural, I want to be creative, why are you stopping me be creative? I don’t want to waste my precious time on this beautiful planet taking part in this STUPID roundabout anti-educational game. I’m leaving. I’ll come back when you stop subjecting us to this ridiculous bollocks.” Then I would grab my things, go to a sign printing service and pay them all my (pre-Tory) EMA pocket money to make the biggest banner I can afford with this quote on it:
The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” – Albert Einstein.

I then hang it up at the school entrance the next morning...

I wish I did this.

A small aside: thanks to Michael Gove, I wouldn't even have the power to do this now, even if I wanted to.

Yeah well done, Michael.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


One trait I love in clever people is  Not getting used to something just cause it's been that way for ages.

If it's ducked up  it's ducked up and it needs to change.

One ducked up thing in my opinion is the way our political parties talk about each other.
Almost without exception  it reminds me of immature children bickering about each other, spending all of their time and effort thinking about what failures they can highlight.

Wouldn't it just be really refreshing if the current government looked back on the previous office and just said "Yeah, i'd have probably done some things differently but hey, there's been some big challenges and tricky calls to make. So let's learn from these experiences and do our best to improve."

I just think it's a rubbish example to set for the public.
Blame isn't going to help anyone. Compassion and empathy will.

Working together, sharing ideas, sharing wisdom..

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

o2 funding, Website plans, Project outlines, etc

It's been a while since the last post, and only partly  because every facet of my life has been stuck in snow.

a lot of STUFF has transpired:
  1. Spoke again to o2 Think Big and they definitely sound interested; I think it's going to happen - Come on guys! We want you in on this!

  2. It's 4:10am and I've just cracked it... After countless days with Charlie brainstorming how we can create a website that provides all of the features that are needed to address the key problems in today's dysfunctional education system (particularly secondary school) it's happened.
    It literally just clicked and I could see it. It feels like every important button has a place now and I can finally imagine using the site. Either I am suffering sleep deprivation or I feel a bit like Mark Zuckerberg probably did when he invented Facebook (except that I'm sober)

    Here's the main layout which will soon be in a presentable form:

  3. Outlines for the project have been drafted in many forms. Understandably (I hope) a massive and pretty original idea like this is fairly hard to summarise briefly in a nice shiny paragraph; something we've been griping with for a good while.

    I'd love your thoughts on these Google Docs as we pull them together:
    What exactly is CTF?
    Problems in education

  4. Also while visiting my mum in Devon over Christmas, I met up with David Gribblewho is a bit of a legend; a kind of mentor for me and was heavily behind Sands School which I went to, and also the notorious Dartington Hall School...

    We watched a great documentary called Race To Nowhere about the american school system which I'd definitely recommend. Will check out Schooled and Waiting For Superman next. WeAreThePeopleWe'veBeenWaitingFor also pretty cool.

  5. Finally I'm planning some more shooting:
  • Ask a handful of headteachers what they point of school is
  • Find some kids skipping school during lesson time and talk to them about why they're doing it