Growing Greener Futures

Friday 22nd October 2010 – I slept in, my bag strap broke, my MacBook wouldn’t work, I misplaced my iPad four times, Google Maps wouldn’t work (when I was running a session on it) and I forgot to print out the information sheet for speakers. In terms of conference day problems that isn’t too bad disaster wise.

Since July 2010 I have been organising the Growing Greener Futures Conference (#ggfc) as part of my new role as Creative Learning Coordinator at Holy Trinity Rosehill Primary School. After confirming some fantastic speakers, I started the process of organising and completing the administration for the conference, which was very hard work… very hard work. I was shocked when Friday 22nd October actually arrived.

The day started with an exceptionally engaging session by Juliet Robertson of Creative STAR Learning Company. I found the whole keynote completely fascinating. Especially facts such as classroom environments not being legally suitable to house two primates!

P1030621Juliet Robertson involving delegates in her keynote presentation

Most of my day was spent running around making sure things were ticking over properly (which they were) but I did get to attend some of Jen Deyenberg’s session on Geocaching and David Hunt’s workshop on Bushcraft Basics. Both were excellent. I also managed to sample some of the delicious Tandoori Chicken with pitta bread, fresh salad and mint raita made by delegates during the cooking session lead by local chef Matthew Brown. I heard fantastic things about Jo Liversidge and her session about Forest Schools – so much so that some of our staff want to go on the training! I also caught glimpses of Bill Lord’s session about ‘Book Soup’ and the workshop lead by Steve Bunce about Video Games and Outdoor Learning. Of course there were sessions I just didn’t have the time to visit – Rich Hurst talking about Biodiversity, Juliet Robertson talking about Roots into Nature, David Sims on photography Andy Black on Mapsticks, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and Gaynor Ayres (our resident environmental educator) talking about gardening in schools. I know all of the workshops were stimulating and worthwhile – I feel very lucky that we had such quality speakers at our school.

From field to family‘From Field to Family’ Cooking Workshop with Matthew Brown

The day ended with a brilliant keynote from Ollie Bray, whom I was very excited to have confirmed as a speaker. I’ve followed Ollie’s work on Twitter and his blog and think what he does is outstanding. The keynote was so good that I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it was 4pm!

Ollie Bray ended the conference talking about Outdoor Learning and Digital Technologies

Also a very important thanks to Creative Partnerships for funding the event – it’s a real shame that such a fantastic organisation has been axed by the new government. There has been talk of #ggfc2 next year on Twitter – my reply to that is ask me in a couple of months when I’ve recovered from organising #ggfc!

Thank you for all those who attended and made the day what it was! :-)

Also, thanks to simfin for the photographs included in this post!

Why ‘Growing Greener Futures’ is important

I recently took up a new role in my school as creative learning coordinator, which includes coordinating our School of Creativity programme with Creative Partnerships. Over the past three years we have been engaged in work based on outdoor learning, living with the land and digital technologies. This has included redeveloping areas of our school grounds into new learning spaces and using a new blogging platform to begin to support writing, evaluation and reflection.

Our children have undoubtedly benefited from taking part in the Growing Greener programme, which has included a greater understanding of issues linked to conservation, healthy living and economic well-being. In addition the children have developed critical thinking skills in relation to nature and wildlife in our school grounds and the wider community. The approach has been topic-driven with work seeping into various curriculum areas in a relevant and meaningful way. Children are becoming more engaged with the writing process through the blogging platform, parents are reporting that children want to make healthy and wholesome meals at home and understanding of the world in which we live has improved dramatically.

Gareth Malone’s Extraordinary School of Boys, recently aired on BBC2, portrayed teachers as beings who refused to leave the classroom or think outside the box. This is not the case. Many teachers and educationalists are doing outstanding things liked to outdoor and creative learning. The Growing Greener Futures Conference aims to prove this. It is events like this that prove teachers can think ‘beyond the box’ and explore the curriculum in engaging and meaningful ways with the children whom they teach.

Growing Greener Futures is hosted at Holy Trinity Rosehill Primary School and part-funded by Creative Partnerships. It aims to explore outdoor learning and living with the land through the themes of gardening, conservation, cooking, sustainability and digital technologies. We have secured outstanding and inspirational speakers for the event including Juliet Robertson of Creative STAR Learning Company and the internationally renowned Ollie Bray, National Advisor for Learning and Technology Futures. In addition Andy Black, Bill Lord, Steve Bunce and Jo Liversidge, among many others, will be presenting hands-on and thought provoking workshops based on a creative and outdoor curriculum of excellence.

It promises to be a very exciting and engaging event. Where else can you take part in workshops based on cooking (with a real chef), bushcraft (with a real explorer), gardening (with a real garden expert) and digital technologies (with real technology experts) all at the same conference? Growing Greener Futures is the answer to opening a dialogue for real curriculum change in relation to outdoor and meaningful creative learning.

Places are still available, for more information visit: