One of the things that I've had to get up to speed very quickly on since getting into this education lark is the language and knowing when to say the right thing and what the right thing is. Not a personal strength.
What’s in a word?
Before I had kids I was bamboozled by the language of education (or just bored) when friends used phrases like ‘key stage one and two’ as if I was expected to know. It had all changed since I was a kid and I have a lifelong JIT learning policy.
One of the most sensitive I have come across is using the word ‘parents’ ironic on a parent-powered project where the alliteration works but the words can cause offence.
When you say ‘parents’ it seems you have to say ‘carers’ too. And ‘guardians’. And in the same breath. Phew!
So far at STEAM Co. we have referred to parents as a core component in the collaboration within our community of helpers.
We then started saying parents and carers.
But STEAM Co. is so much more than that.
We believe that nearly everybody should want and to be able to help with STEAM Co. in some way.
A reality check
The first port of call for help on a STEAM Co. Day is obviously parents/carers/guardians of children in the school concerned.
Having said that we've been told by some schools that many of their their children come to school to get away from their parents/carers/guardians because of very challenging family backgrounds that they face. (One school we’re working with has over 450 live safeguarding cases in a school of 1,500 or so. Staggering!)
This prompted us to look beyond our cozy corner of the world to realise there are many more people that can get involved: People who have never had children for whatever reason for example.
People who have had children that they have left the nest but they miss the opportunity to contribute to a young person’s life as they did as a parent, but with all they learned now under their belt (because they didn’t get a second chance with their own kids).
Most significantly recently we started connecting with sixth formers (do they still call them that or are they Year XX?) from secondary schools to give them the opportunity to act responsibly to show leadership and help inspire younger children.
Indeed an OFSTED inspector recently told me that this level of sixth form collaboration could be key to a secondary school getting on OFSTED ‘outstanding’ grading.
Carers : rebranded :-O
So we're going to call all the people who helped with us ‘carers’.
Because the word carers simply does what it says on the tin.
Carers are people who care, care about children care about creativity, care about ‘all our futures’.
And we need some carers this week to #INSPIRANATION
STEAM Co. is about powering local communities to run a STEAM CO. Day in its children's schools.
Do you care? Will you help?
This week sees to #INSPIRANATION take over in a Big Top at The Sunday Times Festival of Education on the hallowed turf of Wellington College.
This is not our community, we are not from the Berkshire area. Wellington College pupils and parents are already very engaged in other activities around the festival and we were very late to the party to be asking for to much help
We have school children being passed over from some of the most challenged communities in London – a mini bus from Bexley and, because of budget cuts coming in already, schools are struggling for the funding to get the children to us so in many cases parents are doing car shares to bring people down.
But we need more help.
We desperately need another 20 or so volunteers each day to help us run activities. We can’t have too many.
No experience necessary.
You could be making squash. You could be helping a child solve a creative thinking and doing puzzle, you might be helping another just read the instructions of an activity sheet (20% of children leave our primaries unable to read to level 4 – but that’s another story).
You might be handing out passports. You might be controlling crowds
You might be holding a piece of paper round a plastic tube while a child struggles with a roll of masking tape to make an air rocket.
While another carer pumps up with a bike pump to make it fire over the roof of Wellington College.
Can you see that child’s face now? Can you imagine how good that feels to them.
To YOU, having helped?
If you can help us #INSPIRANATION at all this week, please sign up on the form here
Many people might come down to the festival to have a look and see what we doing.
We’d much prefer as many of you as possible to make the jump.
Come and roll your sleeves up and help us #INSPIRANATION.
Don’t worry if you can’t.
We do hope it's okay to ask and of course it’s totally fine if you say no because you're busy, at work or with other things. Or just don’t want to.
Either way, the stage is set and this is the big one but we want to put icing on this cake.
We’re a sponsor short, despite the generous support of Barclays with headline sponsorship and early support financial support from National Grid and Dell. We have BMW bringing an electric car, Google and BT sending a few people to help and art materials from Cass Art.
If you can’t pop down and help, we’ve set up a Kickstarter project to help us cover the last bit of funding we need to really make this work. And if we get any t-shirts left over, you can have one!
As Seth Godin says, "Art is what we call it when what we do might connect people."
We are all artists. But who cares? Is it #YOURturn ?