Sunday, 20 May 2018

Northern Rocks 2018

I brought three year 8 students with me to present on #Oracy.  Each student shared their #Embrace #Oracy speech from last year.  They were passionate, warm and full of their own personal righteous indignation in a way that many adults would struggle to match.  They are from left to right:

Isabelle Jackson who spoke about being a sibling
Millie Crook who spoke about music
Martin McDonough who spoke about disability

They were fearless, whilst sharing generously and confidently, speeches which we had not written for this arena.  As their teacher, the power of their moment on stage was what I know in my classroom, at our school celebration events, but seen with a fresh perspective...

As @ShonetteBason so amply demonstrated in her presentation, it's easy to become a disillusioned and cynical lemon sucker, 'people who when you've got an idea go... ooh we tried that in 1972 and it didn't work then', but who can also choose to cough their lemons up and actually start to take control of their own happiness.

As @jazampawfarr highlighted in her plenary speech with vulnerability and integrity by the bucket load, we can make a difference.  We do change lives.  We can believe in the power of our impact.

As @MeetParents (whose real name is Madeleine Holt - not Michelle or Melaine in my tweets from the opening event stated!) so consistently insists, accountability measures have created fear which when driven with a funding crisis leave us with a narrowed curriculum.

'Change the OFSTED framework so that headteachers can believe that the 
inspection is not based on data.  Until then it will take balls of steel 
to make different choices in school.' 

As @saddleworth_sch demonstrated with a class of year 8 students, the book 'Ways to live forever' by Sally Nicholls and their teacher, Matthew Milburn and his colleagues, courageous interrogation of texts allows us to acknowledge the mortality of our existence without fear. The interconnected work of a group of young people weaved themes of life and death, clinical details about cancer and understanding the relationships between friends and family into a piece of art that moved us far beyond the confines of the room.

And finally, as @DisIdealist said at the start, we have so much power as a profession when we work together.  There is power in choosing to agree (in reaching a shared agreement?) and in collaborative practice.

So with thanks to our students and Northern Rocks 2018, my perspective of my classroom can be summarised as:

Choosing a life without lemons,

Believing in the power of my impact,

Rejecting a narrowed curriculum and a life lived in fear,

Choosing a professional life lived with 'balls of steel',

Standing with my colleagues, because together we are a force to be reckoned with.

Thank you Team #Nrocks18 it has been a blast!  I can't wait to see what comes next and I pledge my allegiance to continuing to rock then!  My presentation is shared below.

We are trying to develop a network in the North West of professionals working with Oracy.  Please email me on if you want to join us.


  1. This is such a positive blog, thank you for sharing

    1. Thanks Jane! I only missed a year of Nrocks in five and gained so much from all of the fabulous people there... like you! You all kept me going!