What have blue whales, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Lego got in common?

….well they were all subjects of a busy day of SOLE work last Friday at Greenfield!

We had many great SOLE sessions last week and a particularly busy day of sessions on Friday where questions about railway factories, humour in performance, the biggest living things on planet earth, the worlds greatest toys and what you’d need to win the Tour de France were all were explored.

Did you know that one of the largest living things on earth is the giant sequoia, also known as General Sherman tree, that can be found located in California’s Sequoia National Park. Look how big it is…! ( with a volume of over 52,508 cubic feet! )


Source Getty images from Greenliving.about.com

We were very pleased to welcome Dom and Alec from Highbury College in Portsmouth to Greenfield, as well as colleagues from Durham University and Newcastle University. It was an interesting day of observations, questions and ideas! We all had so many questions and ideas we want to explore about learning….good job the visitors came on a Friday and we all had the weekend to rest our minds after all of our many questions and SOLE ideas!

We received this lovely message:
“awesome day – thanks so much for your hospitality and allowing us to witness the great work you are doing! Truly inspiring!”

It’s great to be working with partners across the country and in places such as Australia, Holland and California to influence teaching and learning.

We are really looking forward to another day of exciting activity and a special, very important visitor, on Monday 12th May. Watch this space….

It’s a small world

Image is Peter Liversidge’s ‘Everything is Connected’ from Frieze London 2012 exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park on view until October 2014. photograph by Linda Nylind

There are so many people across the globe exploring Professor Sugata Mitra’s SOLEs method (self organised learning environments) and changing the face of teaching and learning. We are honoured to be one of seven “school in the cloud’ labs exploring his ideas with support from Sugata’s TED 2013 prize.

The world just keeps getting smaller….There are so many exciting connections that are taking place because of SOLE. We are in touch with some wonderful colleagues across the globe and sharing ideas. Our partnership with George Stephenson High School and the 5 other ‘School in the Cloud’ areas across India are really starting to develop now that all labs are up and running.

Our colleague, Patrick, from Melbourne Australia, has been working with primary aged children who made this delightful short video about the SOLEs method from their perspective. Take a look.


Patrick will be visiting us at Greenfield in September. We are really looking forward to it.

More great connections include making exciting plans with our colleagues in Holland and looking forward to exploring more enquiry based, project based and Arts based approaches to learning. We are talking about making some exciting exchanges in June. We are also really looking forward to hearing again soon from TED fellow, Asha de Vos about our project exploring blue whales. Very exciting!

We have a number of SOLE sessions coming up this month with some big questions with a global context. We will have to get in touch with some of our new global friends for ideas!

Hatching more plans….


We are having a long Easter weekend break so we will be refreshed and ready for even more exciting SOLES activity and other great Greenfield Arts work we have planned.

We are looking forward to having some lovely visitors next Friday who are interested in the work that is going on in our ‘school in the cloud’ and having some discussions with them about learning.

We have some more great Y5 SOLEs sessions coming up in the next few weeks as well as more of our Greenfield teachers exploring SOLEs.

And we are also very excited about some great plans we have been hatching across Skype which include a great project with TED fellow Asha De Vos ( a marine biologist studying blue whales) and Amy with her students at George Stephenson High School. More on this to come…. But did you know that the blue whale is the largest creature that has ever roamed the planet, as big as a basketball court and as heavy as 40 African elephants! Wow!

For now you can see some of Asha’s fantastic work in a TED ed short animation here:


Egg-citing times!

It’s been a great Easter holiday programme filled with lots of fun and creative activities. It was great to be able to include a community SOLEs session which worked alongside our portrait workshop. We asked the question “why do artists draw themselves” to a mixed group of adults and children from age 6-12. The responses were fantastic. Lots of clever answers including how useful it is to draw yourself as you can do it anytime anywhere cos you are always there!

Here is a sample of the art work they created following the session


This Easter time we have also been making some great plans with colleagues which include being part of the SSAT National Conference in December, working with Sugata in May, working with TED fellow Asha De Vos, a scientist researching Blue Whales in the ocean and planning our open day of SOLEs activities this 25th April. More on that soon.

Have a wonderful Easter break!

Santa paid a visit to Room 13 this Spring!

Ok, its not as crazy as it sounds!

We did a great SOLEs with a Year 7 group last week who were exploring portraiture in Art this term. Their question, accompanied by a “stereotypical” Santa image, was:

“Why does Santa look like this?”


The teacher hoped to stimulate thought and debate about image, who creates images and how we read them. The Year 7 group had never been in Room 13 and there was alot of excitement to begin with. The session and the results it produced were so valuable and rich.

The group explored stereotypes and how we project our personality and characteristics onto people – they discussed why Santa was overweight, they believed that overweight people are “jolly” and jolly people are friendly and approachable to children. This is why Santa looks this way. Others discussed why he wears the funny clothes: environment and climate.

Some discussed culture and identity and his European features which stimulated talk between the groups at the end about how others in other countries may see and experience things. One group felt quite strongly that Santa did not look that way at all as he is a myth and their families had made him up and lied to them! They questioned whether you should believe what you see and what people tell you. How do you decide what is real/not real?

Another group talked about colour and how we associate red with Christmas. The final group explained advertising and coca cola and how images are created which helps us see things in certain ways.

This was a fascinating SOLEs session with such wide ranging areas covered – we look forward to more sessions like this!

Another honorable mention for Room 13!

We got another mention in a fantastic newsletter – this time from our colleagues in the Research Centre for learning and teaching at Newcastle University – thanks guys!

From the: “Enquiry/Project Based Learning Update” by Ulrike Thomas, David Leat & Rachel Lofthouse of Newcastle University.

School in the Clouds: Greenfields Community College by Katy Milne

The launch of the ‘Greenfield School in the Cloud’ project took place earlier this year. ‘Room 13’ has been designed with an indoor/ outdoor feel and has artificial turf on the floor, bird boxes, computers in the grass and seed markers for evaluation and feedback. All have been developed to create an unusual enquiry and project space where Professor Sugata Mitra’s vision to explore his TED prize winning idea of ‘The School in the Cloud’ can take place.


One of the exciting things about having the space in the Community Arts Centre for the school and wider community to use, will be discovering how young people access the space and how they explore their learning independently.

So far there has been lots of activity in Room 13 and lots of SOLE’s sessions. One group explored global issues around Fairtrade and others looked at natural selection and What makes us Human.

There have also been many external requests for information about the School in the Cloud Project. 15 colleagues from the Netherlands have already visited who are really interested in SOLE’s and enquiry based learning. They saw a session with an English class in action and were inspired by the learning the young people generated.We are looking forward very much to seeing how this work evolves.