Some (Further) Academic Context

Hello everyone!
We hope that things are slotting into place now that you’ve nearly completed your project activity. As you begin working on your submissions for assessment, we are sharing some further reading for you, which we hope will help to contextualise the project.
The following texts look at some themes which are central to our project: creativity, democracy and inspiring social action in education.
Have a read of these and then…
Task: Integrating Reading
Produce at least one blog post which responds to something from the texts shared above. Refer to the previous blog post for guidance on the way you should approach your reading – and remember; we’re not interested in what the paper says, we’re interested in the way you put it to work (how does it help you think about the things you’re doing in your project).
Text 1: How Teachers Can Inspire Social Change in the Classroom
This text explores the idea of democratic education: “At its core, democracy is the idea that everyone has meaningful decisions to make about the social world unfolding around them – emphasizing both choices and the personal agency to make those choices.”
Text 2: Teenagency How young people can create a better world
This report is part of a research project which aims to explore the degree to which young people’s sense of their own creativity does or does not influence their propensity to undertake activities intended to make a positive difference in their communities (social action).
Text 3: All our futures: creativity, culture and education
This article argues that new priorities in education are needed, including a much stronger emphasis on creative and cultural education and a new balance in teaching and in the curriculum.
Text 4: Two texts to explore ideas of the importance of reflection in learning and the second creative visions of schools and teaching.
A bonus video: Conversations on Empathy: Sophie Sleeman -Youth Strike4Climate
Given the high profile #SchoolStrike4Climate at the moment, we thought this was a topical video to watch in the context of our project.
Good luck and do explore some of these to develop your understanding as well s contribute to the academic thinking and analysis required as part of you assignment.

The Project Plan

Hello everyone!

Hope you enjoyed the fun and games at the last conference!


In the afternoon session we discussed some of our ideas in more detail. It was great to see some of our ideas developing in light of the morning activities.

Ideas we discussed included:

  • Radio podcasting session – asking young people their opinions on school uniform for a podcast. We discussed potential problems around consent with his.
  • Around the world: how to break the cycle of fast fashion. An interactive experience taking participants through the lifecycle of a school uniform – where it’s made, where it ends up, impacts along  the way.
    Incorporate games, debate, give the students this ‘problem’ to solve themselves- could be its own educational activity – a school uniform upcycling / redesiging challenge.


Here are a few related links to check out:

THEATRE: World Factory – interactive game

INFOGRAPHIC: How much does your t-shirt really cost?

DOCUMENTARY: Stacey Dooley Investigates: Are Your Clothes Wrecking the Planet?
– uses some interesting visual aids to convey messages about fast fashion impacts.


The initial project plan we created at the last conference sets out how we need to use our time between now and April. We can add more to this as we go along.

Week 26 – 21-Jan:

Week 27: 28-Jan: Tutorial with Eileen – Tuesday 29th 3-4pm, Spanish steps.

Week 28 4-Feb: Visit to Stitched Up HQ – Monday 4th Feb, 6pm-7pm.

Week 29: 11-Feb Research period ends – start finalising activity.

Week 30: 18-Feb

Week 31: 25-Feb Tutorial with Eileen Tues 26th 3-4pm, Spanish steps.
At this stage we’re expecting you to have your idea completed and be getting together as a group to work on the pitch for schools.

Week 32: 4-Mar

Week 33: 11-Mar Tutorial with Eileen

Week 34: 19-Mar 3rd Conference (pitch for schools ready – rehearsal)

Week 35: 25-Mar Project Event (TBC!)

Week 36: 1-April Tutorial with Eileen

Week 37: 8-April

Week 38: 15-April

Week 39: 22-April

Week 40: 29-April

Week 41: 6-May Assessment submission

If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask your project team Eileen and Bryony – we’re here to help!

There is also now a WhatsApp group for the project, so you can discuss ideas and make plans together. If you haven’t been added to it yet let us know.

Good luck with the next stage of your project. We look forward to seeing you all in the next couple of weeks.

Eileen and Bryony

Safe Guarding and Ethics of Project Work

It is a legal requirement that anybody working with children, young people or vulnerable adults is appropriately briefed on safeguarding. As such it is important that all EdLab students engage with this post carefully.

By its very nature your work in EdLab will put you in contact with external partners and individuals outside the university – and often, these will be children and young people. Whilst you should never be put in a position by which you are responsible for a group of children, it is important that you appropriate briefed and considerate of the responsibilities this brings to you for child protection, and more broadly for ethical and professional conduct.


The term ‘safeguarding’ is used to describe the processes and measures which are put in place in order to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults. This protection includes, of course, extreme instances of abuse and maltreatment – and the current legal framework was put in place in response to highly publicised failures of public bodies to respond to warning signs that children were in danger. Safeguarding does mean something a bit broader, though. The UK Government defines the term as;

‘The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.’

(DERA, 2014)

This extends the reach of safeguarding beyond child protection to incorporate the additional aims of preventing adverse impacts on health and development, and the promotion of circumstances is which children can thrive through to adult life.

Responsibility to assure safeguarding lies with both organisations (in our case, with the university through EdLab) and individuals (your project coordinator and, importantly, you). There are some basic implications of safeguarding policy for you. These are very simple, and should not be complicated;

  • It is important that all EdLab students have completed a full DBS check. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have one, and our responsiblity to pay for it and to limit access to outreach activity without one. In rare situations in which it isn’t possible to gain a DBS (for some international students) alternative arrangements will be made for the student
  • At no point should an EdLab student be left in sole responsibility – the lead for the space you are working in should be the project coordinator, a class teacher or equivalent or the parents of children (who should remain with them at all times
  • If you are concerned, tell your project coordinator. One of the golden rules of safeguarding is that communication is important, and you should flag up any concern (even if you think it might be silly) about young people you are working with immediately with your project coordinator (let them decide whether further action should be taken). It is important to remember that there is no right to confedentiality in law … if a young person starts to disclose something to you, tell them that you will have to tell somebody, and then do tell somebody else, even if they don’t disclose anything.

At this point, we would like you to follow this link and confirm that you have read and understand your responsibilities regarding safeguarding.

Risk Assessment

Whilst the guidance above ensures that you are compliant with fundamental safeguarding commitments, there are additional responsibilities which you should be aware of. Most notably, you are responsible for ensuring that any participants are kept safe within the activities that you run for them. Risk assessment can sometimes get caught up in slightly silly rhetoric, but the fundamentals are pretty simple. The usual process goes something like this…

  • Identify all of the hazards associated with your work. This is anything which might feasibly pose perils to physical or psychological health.
  • Consider which of these hazards constitute risks. Hazards only become risks if they are likely to occur, and if they would be unsafe if they did. This is the process by which you ensure your risk assessment is both effective and sensible, by identifying the things that are most likely to need planning for
  • Finally, you should establish precautions which will be taken in order to prevent risks turning into genuine dangers. What will you do in order to minimise the danger posed by hazards?

Usually, risk assessments are recorded in forms that look something like this – and shared with everyone involved in running the activity.

Professional Conduct

Work on educational outreach projects also has broader implications in terms of your personal conduct. It hopefully goes without saying, but we expect you to behave in professional ways – it is very easy to accidentally damage external relationships if not, and this makes arranging future projects very difficult. Everybody involved, including the outside guests who attend your project work, understands that you may well be inexperienced and novice at ‘doing education’ – and nobody expects that things will be perfect. Equally, though, there is basic level of professional conduct which is expected of our students in how you conduct yourselves within your teams, and in your interactions with those outside the university. Critical to this is effective communication and reliability; other people are often relying on the work that you do, whether its your project team or guests who are attending your activities – and it is therefore critical that you meet your commitments and deadlines. It is also important that you keep communicating with your project team throughout the process … even if things are going entirely to plan.

Quality Assuring your Work

The final dimension of this blog post relates to the importance of taking every reasonable precaution to ensure that your activities and events run smoothly and effectively. As noted above, we don’t expect everything to always run as you expect (indeed, education rarely works like this!) – however there is an extent to which, with some careful though, you can plan for the unexpected. In lots of ways, this process mirrors that of safeguarding, in that it follows these steps (but focused on things that might disrupt the smooth-running of your work, rather than responding to danger)…

  • Work out everything that could go wrong when your run your activity.
  • Audit each hazard in terms of how likely it is to go wrong, and how damaging it would be if it did.

You can then prioritise responses according to this framework:


… In which you would have very definite fall-back plans to respond to anything red (high likelihood and high impact), and be aware of the possibility of anything yellow. The stuff in green, can be fairly safely deprioritised to give more space to focus on the more risky stuff.

Some Academic Context

Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

We hope you all had a lovely break and are feeling refreshed and ready to get to work!

At the first conference we delved into the issues which inspired our project – namely waste in the fashion industry, and the associated environmental problems it causes.

Over the holidays we’ve been thinking a little more broadly about some of the theories that underpin this project, and much of the work that Stitched Up does.

We have been thinking about hope – how to create and maintain a sense of hope in the face of seemingly impossible challenges.

Below we’ve suggested some reading which explores related ideas. Have a read and see what you think.

Think like a bee
Short read:

The power of storytelling: “If we want a better world, then the first step is to imagine one”

For a short read, check out this article, and the research which underpins it.

Longer read: Storytelling and Social Change journal article


Reminder: Preparation for Conference #2

At the second conference, we’ll be working on a roadmap for your projects. So prior to then, it would be really useful if you could home in on one or two project ideas that you really like. If you’re already at this stage, have a think about what you’d like the end result of your project to be. And identify some of the steps that will be required to get there.

Task: Integrating Reading

It’s time to share your thinking!

Produce at least one blog post which responds to something from the texts shared above. Refer to the previous blog post for guidance on the way you should approach your reading – and remember; we’re not interested in what the paper says, we’re interested in the way you put it to work – how does it help you think about the things you’re doing in your project.

That’s all for now…

We look forward to seeing you all at Conference #2!

Eileen and Bryony


How Does Reading Fit In

In previous posts, we have discussed the pedagogy that underpins EdLab – the ways in which it encourages you to generate theoretical understandings of education on the basis of your enacted experiences running projects. There is no pre-defined knowledge, and you are not expected to demonstrate any specific understandings of content or ideas – what matters is the way in which you develop a rigorous and critical sense of what it is you are producing through your projects.

This is, however, not to say that we do not expect you to undertake outside reading in support of the unit. In part, this will take the form of sleuthing other educational initiatives from which you can take inspiration. It should, however, also involve more conventional academic reading which should be used to inspire deeper analysis of the work that you do, and provide languages to talk about that work in more sophisticated ways. Here are some quick and dirty tips for engaging with reading in ways which will support the EdLab process;

  • Its not what it says, its what it makes you think. Try to avoid an impulse to be able to describe what the author is saying verbatim. Instead, find bits of the writing that make you think things (particularly if they affect how you are thinking about your project).
  • One sentence is enough. Often, students find themselves trying to respond to the whole paper. In some cases, this is appropriate – but equally it might be that one particular thing that the author says (it might even be just one statement) is enough to provoke a useful response.
  • Don’t punish yourself. If you are finding reading hard going, don’t blame yourself! Often, it’s because it is dense (and badly written). Don’t read and reread the same paragraph over and over again if you don’t understand it – read on, and find the bit that does talk to you.
  • Stop and write – particularly if you find yourself struck by a thought. Don’t lose that thinking by finishing the paper; go and write a blog post which starts with a quote from the article, and proceeds with a brain-dump of your thoughts. Then finish the paper.

In the next post, your project coordinator will share a couple of sources that might get you started in this process … but do try to do some independent hunting for sources too!

Reflections on our First Conference

Great to see you at our first conference.

In our project workshop we looked at the broader context of our project – how the fast fashion industry is damaging to the environment (and to people).

For some further information on what happens to clothing waste after we discard it or donate it to charity, we recommend watching this video.

We also looked more specifically at our subject matter for this project, finding out about what happened to the clothes when a school upgraded or redesigned its uniform. We examined a few items of school uniform that had been discarded by schools – including jumpers, lined waterproof coats and blazers, all of which had had their logos cut out leaving a large hole in the garment.

We hope that this has inspired you to come up with some innovative ideas to tackle this issue.

We had some really interesting discussions and initial brainstorming around the project. Some of the ideas we discussed on the day were –

  • Campaigning to abolish school uniform entirely… Asking what are the reasons for having a school uniform, and does it work?
  • Using the school uniforms to make hats/coats other useful items for street homeless.
  • Using the clothes to make a large banner to convey a campaign message.
  • Sewing all the clothes together and creating some kind of educational resource like the parachutes used as a learning aid in schools.
  • Redesigning school uniform completely to make it really desirable to wear.

We were really impressed by the initial ideas created by the group. We have some great things to take forward from this first day.

Task #1: Sustaining Creativity

Before we define exactly what this project will look like, we’d like to encourage you to undertake your own background research and have a look at other projects that seek to reuse or repurpose clothing and other items.

It would be great if you can document your thoughts and discoveries via your blog. It’s a really good way to keep track of all your ideas to date.

Possible projects to check out, inspired by the ideas from our first workshops:

Lucy+GogeOrta(visual artists)

Logo Removal Service polyester rope play frames be made from recycled school blazers?? There are lots of different ideas on this website.

A potential project partner:

At the end of the first conference, CJ from the #MeSeeMe project told us that she’s working with a Stockport school to send some of their old uniform to schools in Kenya. But first they need to cover up the logo in some way. Another school with discarded uniform! IT is the school Parent Teacher Association (PTA) who have taken it upon themselves to stop the old uniform going to waste. The headteacher had not considered this when choosing to redesign the uniform. The same goes for the uniform brought to Stitched Up by the PTA.

So perhaps this is something to think about. Should a campaign or resource be targeted at head teachers and school leadership? Perhaps we could partner with the Stockport school in some way?

Two things to keep in mind:

  1. The project purpose:

The ultimate purpose of this project is to tackle the wastage of school uniform through some kind of educational resource or activity. So for all the ideas you come up with, ask – how does it fulfil the project purpose?

  1. The waste hierarchy:

The most efficient use of waste products is prevention.

waste heirarchy


Should schools clear up their own mess?

A phrase that came up during our workshops was ‘asking schools to clear up their own mess’.  Can we find a way to tackle school uniform waste at source – discouraging schools from creating it in the first place, rather than helping them to simply pass discarded uniforms to someone else to deal with…

Well done for your input so far. Don’t forget that you need to create your own blog (eek!), create a link to it here or  add your own blog posts to share ideas, comments and feedback

We look forward to seeing the next stage of your research at the second conference on   19th January!

Eileen and Bryony


Interrogating Pedagogy


Pedagogy is the word that educationalists use to describe the relationships between the approach that teachers use (and the strategies and structures they employ) and the conceptual underpinnings of those approaches. These foundations are made up of all sorts of theoretical influences – including the teacher’s political/ethical commitments; their philosophical and empirical position on the qualities of effective teaching and learning, together with ‘big theories’ which have influenced that thinking. Interrogating ‘pedagogy’ and your own pedagogic positions is, therefore, a critical feature of development as an educational professional. To extend your thinking about the nature of pedagogy further, you might want to read the following online article, and pursue some of the readings identified in its bibliography:

Smith, Mark (2012). What is Pedagogy.

EdLab has a Pedagogy

The work we do (and you do) as part of EdLab is also underpinned by particular pedagogies. Most fundamentally, it is about doing things – we evaluate our success, in part, on the basis of having created engaging and exciting educational experiences for our local communities. But it is also about thinking about things; about using your experience ‘doing stuff’ as a means to generated situated understandings of what education is and does and can or could b

This positions the relationship between theory and practice in a particular way – and this carries implications for how you should think about your learning (and how we have to assess that learning). It disrupts a pretty dominant theory-to-practice convention – in which you’d be taught some ‘big ideas’, expected to demonstrate a competence in them and only then apply them to practice (incidentally, think about the apprenticeship model of a degree in these terms). This is based in on a mind-to-body construct of the learner – something that the emphasis on enactment in EdLab rejects. Instead, we think you can do stuff, and that the act of doing allows particular understandings to coalesce and emerge.

This doesn’t negate the importance of theory, of course; it is absolutely critical that you leave the unit not just with a warm feeling of having done nice things, but also with some critical ideas about what education can be. You need to be active in producing theory as you go along, reflecting on your activity in order to arrive at some transferable positions and understandings. The Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire puts this really nicely;

Critical reflection on practice is a requirement of the relationship between theory and practice. Otherwise theory becomes simply “blah, blah, blah,” and practice, pure activism. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

The importance of student-level theorising does not, of course, negate the value of big external theory – or reading the thoughts of others. This becomes critical as a mechanism to enhance and extend your own thinking – in ways we will explore later in the course.

This positioning then, brings with it expectations of you – but also of us. It means that we’re not really looking for ‘facsimile’  in our assessments. In other words, we don’t need to see that you have understood any particular theory or idea. What is more important is the productive elements – the ideas you have generated, and the ways they interact with a broader community of thinkers practitioners. Of course, some people may well see this not very innovative at all … it sounds a bit like a description of how academic communities are meant to operate.

Task #2: Reflection Activity

With all of this in mind, now is a good time to start to think about your own pedagogy – about the kinds of commitments and orientations you may have as a practitioners. We would like you to produce a blog post exploring this in reference to the project with which you are involved. What kinds of quality of educational experience are you hoping to deliver? How do these things correspond to your commitments and principles about what education can and should be in general.

In producing this blog post, we do not expect evidence of extended reading. However, it might be helpful to find some educational thinkers who have ideas which seem to resonate with your own commitments. Here is a useful source to support this;

Palmer et al. (2001). Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey. London: Routledge.

A Creative Spark

Development work on your project will begin at the first EdLab conference on the 1st December. Whilst the day will include a couple of keynote lectures on educational entrepreneurship and creativity, a large part of the day will be given over to project teams to start to come up with some creative ideas and directions for their work. We are keen that your creative energy is central to what we end up doing – and as such, we would like you to come to the day armed with your own thinking and an initial piece of work. The purpose of this blog post is to set out some tasks which help you to do this by thinking equally about practical ideas and underlying principles.

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1st December: EdLab Conference #1

Just a quick reminder that the first EdLab conference will take place in the Brooks Building on the 1st December between 10am and 3pm. The conferences represent a really important opportunity (often one of the only opportunities) for all members of a project team to work together for an extended period of time. The focus of the day will be an introduction to creative and entrepreneurial education

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