Africa Week – Sale Day


The work of S2 finally came to fruition when the sale of their N’Debele Dolls and Mojo Bags raised just under Β£40. Taking the overall school total to over Β£400, which will help bring more comfort to the children in Malawi.


A big congratulations to Victoria D, who won the cash prize and a big thank you to all of those who took part by either making, helping or buying the hand-made products.


The Queuing System

Being a practical teacher can really take it out of you. There are often lots of pupils wanting your attention or needing your help. No matter what system I have tried, the only one that has had any success for me is the written queue. By allowing pupils to write their name up on the board in a list I have eased the amount of work I have to put into each class and reduce the chaotic nature of getting help in a practical environment.


The written list helps each pupil see how many others are waiting before them in the list. This lets them know how long they may need to wait before receiving the teacher’s attention.


The list also helps the teacher and the pupil see how many times the pupil has asked for help. Some pupils can be more demanding than others, so it helps bring ‘needy pupils’ to the attention of the teacher. It may even make the pupil more aware of the amount of attention they seek, or don’t seek, each period.


Allowing pupils to write their names on the board breaks the barrier of them always being under stress and criticism when asked to approach the board. The board should be an interactive area for pupils and teachers equally.


Music Video Test

This year’s Film-Making Club have been working on props and models for 2 music videos. The tester below is trial filming for the 2nd of the music videos. The entire music video is created with hand puppets, puppets and models created from cardboard. The colours look vivid and the finger puppets and stick puppets are purposefully naive. This tester is influenced by Michel Gondry and several home-made films that have been watched on You Tube. Sound effects are added to keep the tester interesting. This is not intended to be an end product.

Night Lights

So, S4 have been working themselves to the bone trying to finish their lighting unit final solutions. All work needs to be finished for next week, most are nearly there. Below you will see some of the lights in their ‘on’ state. The pupils had to think about how the light would react and look, on and off. The light is aimed to suit an Information Room in Edinburgh Zoo, so it had to be themed as such to suit the client.


Nicole‘s light is based on a parrot. She has emense focus and skill. Usually pupils need to have input to sort many problems that arise when building three dimensional objects. Nicole has been working from her own original ideas under her own incentive. She has created a stunning ornament.


Rachel A has put a lot of work into the above piece, and it shows. Based on a snake, Rachel had to build a wire frame to form a snake body, that didn’t quite work out, so she then had to build another sturdier shell from card. She had to actually make two final pieces. The tongue is a great touch, it’s a little creepy, but the red glow adds warmth and contrast to the shell.


Michael‘s theme is easily identifiable. He has worked paper fringing into the shark’s gills. It makes them look realistic and also has a nice effect on the light that has to fight its way through the hairs. The fin gives the body an un-even keel, it helps the form look more interesting.


It’s hard to get a nice mix of primitive and modern, though I feel Hannah S has done so, but it’s not without a lot of effort, attending after school classes and giving her all. The stripes are beautifully stitched on to tissue windows. The tiger fire pattern, painstakingly hand painted. I could really see this piece in an african themed livingroom, it does have obvious themes, but it is so subtely done that it looks very classy.


Using the wolf, Konor had tried his best to make his light frightening and unapproachable. By lighting up the deep red of the mouth, the light no longer attracts people in, it repels them away. The neoprene teeth help add to the suspense of the light being dangerous. A weird and threatening shade, though it strangely works, tempting the viewer’s interest with every scared glance.

Butterfly Pinlight

Kirsty (S4) has been working on her butterfly lamp for over a month. It has been made by carefully pinholing black card to form butterfly shapes. The inside is a carefully made fan that spins with the heat of the bulb rising inside the lamp. It spins a tissue paper shade that is made from ripped pink and yellow tissue to give a nice scattered effect through the pinholes. Below is a short video of the light in action. I’m sure you will agree that it is very impressive and such a marvellous idea.

‘Where The Wild Things Are’ Movie Trailer

Over a year and a half ago my S1 classes designed a movie poster for the film adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book ‘Where the Wild Things are’. Now the trailer has finally been released and it looks magnificent. Spike Jonze as director, music by Arcade Fire and big monsters… what else do you need?

You can view the posters by clicking the link above (where it says ‘movie poster’), an example is below.


Eternal Childhood



A very early ‘Artwork of the Week’ this week. Kate from S1 has spent the past month working on a submission for the ‘Young Brits at Art’ competition. Her idea was simple in its production, though contains many meaningful things about what it is like to grow up in Great Britain.

Kate’s piece suggests that she is greatly effected by world dominating things. Mainly big american products such as Disney, iPods and Jelly Bellys. These products are not held back by a nation’s boundaries, they effect everyone in the western world, if not the civilised world.

She suggests that these are things that keep you young. By owning these things we are somehow holding back old age. These items are the fountain of youth. This is also a suggestion of something that will be remembered. Unlike our grandparents who usually remember events or social meetings from their past, modern children remember things like TV programs, TV ads and games. They will remember products that they had owned or wanted.

Big Issues

Rachel from S4 got the chance to attend the Big Issue for her work experience after I’d arranged it through my sources. She left such a big impression that the Editor had stated that ‘she was one of the best work experience assistants that we’ve ever had’. I was so amazed receiving the feedback from her stay. She not only impressed the Big Issue staff by resourcing a lot of the photos for the issue, she also got a ‘by line’. I’m told that this is a very rare occurrence. A photo of Rachel’s article ‘The Real Lost World’ is below. Congratulations Rachel. You did me proud.


Face It

A lot of my S2 classes are currently working on a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ book cover unit. They’ve had to draw their own faces from a black and white portrait (no tracing or griding). A tough challenge, though after a few periods, the work is starting to look interesting. The work below is by Heather from 2N, Heather was just about to glue her ‘Hyde side’ down over half of her portrait, so I thought it was important to get a photograph of it before it was changed forever.


For those that didn’t want to draw themselves, I gave a picture of myself (I’m not that bigheaded, other people were asked, but they refused to let me use their image, which is understandable). Even though I have an ugly face, the pupils have managed to produce unique, stylised and beautiful artworks. Below is one of my favourites; Shannon from 2C has not been in the class long, but is starting to stand out through her style and focus. There is a lot of tonal detail lost in the photograph, but Shannon’s angular drawing style makes the face look intense and somewhat frightening. The clumped hair helps add to the strangeness… I don’t know why, but the image reminds me of threatening Manchester bands from the nineties, like Oasis or the Verve.



At Shannon’s table TJ is a little further on (above). He has finished his self portrait and is currently using oil pastels to make a Picasso-esque rendition of his ‘Hyde side’. Most good portraits for this project will look older than the pupil. It’s to make the cover more believable, as Jekyll was an adult scientist.

Shannon’s Sketchpad



Shannon‘s (S2) sketchpad is full of pastel drawings of various themes. Below I have added some of my favourite pages from the book. It’s difficult for most pupils to work on a large scale, so it is refreshing to see these large colourful images.



The parrot, Shannon’s own favourite image from the sketchpad, is marvelously applied. It shines with colour, it’s highlighted tones dazzle the eye. The background pattern of canopy leaves is purposefully flat, though it works as a discrete backdrop to the tropical bird. Great work.