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We’re back

It’s been ages since we last blogged, but we’re back and will try to be a bit more present.

In a counter intuitive move at the start of a new school year, I thought I’d talk a bit about our social enterprise arm: the Electric Barge - have a look at www.theelectricbarge.co.uk. We’ve put a lot of effort into building this side of our activities over the last couple of years - when grant funding is so tight it makes a lot of sense to try and generate more of your own income.

We have new branding, a new website, a better online listings presence and have had a really good summer off the back of this. As a result we have won business from Marks & Spencer, Deloittes, London Business School and we’ll be hosting an event for Tom Dixon as part of London Design Festival later this month.

The truly great thing about this is that all the money we earn from commercial hire is ploughed straight back into our education work. If you click the following link you’ll see how much this can resonate with potential corporate hirers: http://blur-marketing.com/blog/a-party-reminds-clients-why-you-float-their-boat/

So hiring the Electric Barge for a party or a meeting can have a positive impact on a child’s life by giving them exciting opportunities to learn. That’s got to be worth doing, hasn’t it?

Link

As we approach the end of our after school literacy project, Tales from the Towpath, I wanted to point you towards Winning Words. Have a look at their website by clicking on the link here and be inspired. 

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I spectacularly failed to let you know how we did at the Charity Awards 2012 a couple of weeks ago. As you may have guessed, we didn’t win; I’d obviously have been shouting that from the rafters.

We were, in fact, Highly Commended. Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust was the winner with a brilliant initiative to bring in young volunteers.

The night itself was fantastic: champagne reception, dinner in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House Hotel and a volley of very impressive swearing from Bill Oddie when presenting one of the awards. Personal highlight was meeting one of my heroes: the artist Sir Peter Blake – he was lovely and autographed a couple of postcards of his that I’d taken along in case I met him.

The picture is a snapshot from the evening: some of the On the Waterfront done up to the nines. 

I spectacularly failed to let you know how we did at the Charity Awards 2012 a couple of weeks ago. As you may have guessed, we didn’t win; I’d obviously have been shouting that from the rafters.

We were, in fact, Highly Commended. Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust was the winner with a brilliant initiative to bring in young volunteers.

The night itself was fantastic: champagne reception, dinner in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House Hotel and a volley of very impressive swearing from Bill Oddie when presenting one of the awards. Personal highlight was meeting one of my heroes: the artist Sir Peter Blake – he was lovely and autographed a couple of postcards of his that I’d taken along in case I met him.

The picture is a snapshot from the evening: some of the On the Waterfront done up to the nines. 

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Big week for the Floating Classroom this week: we have the Charity Awards 2012 on Thursday 14 June at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. 

On the Waterfront is nominated in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category and will be competing against very impressive projects in Ironbridge in Shropshire and Spitalfields in London. It’s wonderful to be in the frame for an award like this and we’re all really looking forward to the awards dinner on Thursday. It’s a black tie do so should be interesting to see how we all scrub up - the Floating Classroom isn’t exactly the sort of place that lends itself to dressing up!

We’ll let you know how we get on at the end of the week. After coming in Runner-Up in the recent Waterways Renaissance Awards it would be brilliant to go one better this time. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Big week for the Floating Classroom this week: we have the Charity Awards 2012 on Thursday 14 June at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. 

On the Waterfront is nominated in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category and will be competing against very impressive projects in Ironbridge in Shropshire and Spitalfields in London. It’s wonderful to be in the frame for an award like this and we’re all really looking forward to the awards dinner on Thursday. It’s a black tie do so should be interesting to see how we all scrub up - the Floating Classroom isn’t exactly the sort of place that lends itself to dressing up!

We’ll let you know how we get on at the end of the week. After coming in Runner-Up in the recent Waterways Renaissance Awards it would be brilliant to go one better this time. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

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On the Waterfront is Runner-Up in Waterways Renaissance Awards 2012

In a wonderful endorsement of our work, the Floating Classroom’s On the Waterfront project was voted Runner-up in the Education category of last week’s Waterways Renaissance Awards.

We were pipped to the winner’s spot by Belfast’s Lagan Legacy, a project designed to save artefacts from the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was built.

The ceremony was held at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre where we had the chance to meet fellow nominees from around the UK. One of the evening’s themes was the importance engaging a younger generation with the country’s waterways. This was one of our objectives with On the Waterfront and I think being selected as a Finalist is a testimony to the project’s success in this respect.

Also working towards this objective was the winner of the Volunteering category: Waterways Action Squad based in the North West. They did a fantastic job creating over 1000 volunteering opportunities on the area’s rivers and canals for young people aged 16-25. Inspiring stuff.

Next up for the Floating Classroom is the Charity Awards 2012 on 14 June. Fingers crossed for success on the night.

In the meantime, the picture above is of Floating Classroom Chief Executive, Simon Ryder, with the Runner-Up Certificate. Easy, tigers.

On the Waterfront is Runner-Up in Waterways Renaissance Awards 2012

In a wonderful endorsement of our work, the Floating Classroom’s On the Waterfront project was voted Runner-up in the Education category of last week’s Waterways Renaissance Awards.

We were pipped to the winner’s spot by Belfast’s Lagan Legacy, a project designed to save artefacts from the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was built.

The ceremony was held at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre where we had the chance to meet fellow nominees from around the UK. One of the evening’s themes was the importance engaging a younger generation with the country’s waterways. This was one of our objectives with On the Waterfront and I think being selected as a Finalist is a testimony to the project’s success in this respect.

Also working towards this objective was the winner of the Volunteering category: Waterways Action Squad based in the North West. They did a fantastic job creating over 1000 volunteering opportunities on the area’s rivers and canals for young people aged 16-25. Inspiring stuff.

Next up for the Floating Classroom is the Charity Awards 2012 on 14 June. Fingers crossed for success on the night.

In the meantime, the picture above is of Floating Classroom Chief Executive, Simon Ryder, with the Runner-Up Certificate. Easy, tigers.

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It’s been a pretty exciting time for the Floating Classroom of late with our nomination for two national awards for our filmmaking project, On the Waterfront.

In June we will find out how we have done in the Charity Awards 2012 and on Wednesday (23 May) we are heading up to Birmingham for the Waterways Renaissance Awards (WRA).

On a personal note, it seems fitting to be going to an event like this in Birmingham. The school trip that I remember most vividly was to the city’s Gas Street Basin. In those days, Birmingham’s canals were still dark and forbidding places, with a tangible connection to their industrial / commercial past. I was fascinated by the darkness and otherwordliness of the place; the sense that there was something going on here out of sight of the rest of the city.

This is what the best out of classroom learning does: giving children experiences they would not have at school. My love of cities and their underbellies was partly shaped by that trip to the Gas Street Basin. We hope that the experiences children have on the Floating Classroom resonate with them long after they have disembarked the boat.

Gas Street Basin is pretty much unrecognisable today. Birmingham’s regeneration has been driven by the waterways and the area is now home to bars, clubs, restaurants and the venue for the awards ceremony: the International Conference Centre.

It feels like a wheel turning full circle going back representing a canal-based education project and it should be a really special night. We’ll let you know how we get on; fingers crossed.

It’s been a pretty exciting time for the Floating Classroom of late with our nomination for two national awards for our filmmaking project, On the Waterfront.

In June we will find out how we have done in the Charity Awards 2012 and on Wednesday (23 May) we are heading up to Birmingham for the Waterways Renaissance Awards (WRA).

On a personal note, it seems fitting to be going to an event like this in Birmingham. The school trip that I remember most vividly was to the city’s Gas Street Basin. In those days, Birmingham’s canals were still dark and forbidding places, with a tangible connection to their industrial / commercial past. I was fascinated by the darkness and otherwordliness of the place; the sense that there was something going on here out of sight of the rest of the city.

This is what the best out of classroom learning does: giving children experiences they would not have at school. My love of cities and their underbellies was partly shaped by that trip to the Gas Street Basin. We hope that the experiences children have on the Floating Classroom resonate with them long after they have disembarked the boat.

Gas Street Basin is pretty much unrecognisable today. Birmingham’s regeneration has been driven by the waterways and the area is now home to bars, clubs, restaurants and the venue for the awards ceremony: the International Conference Centre.

It feels like a wheel turning full circle going back representing a canal-based education project and it should be a really special night. We’ll let you know how we get on; fingers crossed.

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Tales from the Towpath, our after school literacy club, has really stepped up a gear since Easter. We are now delivering it three afternoons a week to three local schools.

We have faced some really interesting challenges as the project has evolved. Teaching children at the end of the school day is very different from working with them bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 10am. We are also delivering much shorter sessions than usual. Many of the children taking part are struggling in school and need something different from orthodox classroom teaching.

In the face of this we have been tweaking the programme a lot as it has rolled out. The emphasis is very much on short, sharp activities that engage the children actively as quickly as possible.

We have switched from providing lots of context before an exercise to setting out only what is essential and then cracking straight on. The experience is then mined for meaning and learning points afterwards.

Crucially, activities are designed to be fun. We have to engage children who may not enjoy the regular school experience as much as some of their classmates.

With this in mind, we have had pupils exploring Little Venice and Paddington Basin armed with digital cameras. Their brief: to take pictures of the birds, buildings, bridges and boats they see there. Back on the boat their work is downloaded and they are asked to talk about what they have photographed and why; we encourage them to be as descriptive as possible.

Pupils have interviewed people that live and work on London’s canals. They have explored the crypt of a local church as the inspiration for ghost stories. We have journeyed through the darkness of Maida Hill Tunnel and we have cruised past the gleaming glass and steel offices at Paddington Central.

We have incentivised good behaviour: listening well, asking questions appropriately and good teamwork are all awarded with points. In the grand tradition, points mean prizes: at the end of each session pupils who have done well are given prizes of pens, rubbers, notebooks, stickers etc.

It’s an amazing project that changes and re-forms constantly as we progress. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes over the coming weeks and keep your fingers crossed for us that the rain eases off soon!

Tales from the Towpath, our after school literacy club, has really stepped up a gear since Easter. We are now delivering it three afternoons a week to three local schools.

We have faced some really interesting challenges as the project has evolved. Teaching children at the end of the school day is very different from working with them bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 10am. We are also delivering much shorter sessions than usual. Many of the children taking part are struggling in school and need something different from orthodox classroom teaching.

In the face of this we have been tweaking the programme a lot as it has rolled out. The emphasis is very much on short, sharp activities that engage the children actively as quickly as possible.

We have switched from providing lots of context before an exercise to setting out only what is essential and then cracking straight on. The experience is then mined for meaning and learning points afterwards.

Crucially, activities are designed to be fun. We have to engage children who may not enjoy the regular school experience as much as some of their classmates.

With this in mind, we have had pupils exploring Little Venice and Paddington Basin armed with digital cameras. Their brief: to take pictures of the birds, buildings, bridges and boats they see there. Back on the boat their work is downloaded and they are asked to talk about what they have photographed and why; we encourage them to be as descriptive as possible.

Pupils have interviewed people that live and work on London’s canals. They have explored the crypt of a local church as the inspiration for ghost stories. We have journeyed through the darkness of Maida Hill Tunnel and we have cruised past the gleaming glass and steel offices at Paddington Central.

We have incentivised good behaviour: listening well, asking questions appropriately and good teamwork are all awarded with points. In the grand tradition, points mean prizes: at the end of each session pupils who have done well are given prizes of pens, rubbers, notebooks, stickers etc.

It’s an amazing project that changes and re-forms constantly as we progress. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes over the coming weeks and keep your fingers crossed for us that the rain eases off soon!

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Night and Day

Last week was first week back after Easter for schools so relatively quiet on the boat, but very busy for us in the office. Loads of enquiries about booking from teachers who have obviously been doing their planning over the holiday and glad to say that we are pretty much full up now for the rest of this term.

We did start back on Tales from the Towpath last week. Pupils at Edward Wilson Primary explored the crypt at St Mary Magdalene Church with us and we’ll be using that as the inspiration for some spooky stories with them this week. We also met the pupils at Paddington Green Primary who will be taking part for the first time. They’re a lively bunch and we’re really looking forward to exploring Little Venice and Paddington Basin with them on Tuesday.

Also this week, we’re trying out something new. Year 2 pupils from Edward Wilson are coming on board for 2 sessions on nocturnal animals with our Natural History man, Tim Maynard. Interested to see how this works during the daytime and what surprises Tim magics up from his menagerie of animals!

One last thing: still buzzing from our shortlisting for the Charity Awards 2012, we may also hear this week how we have fared in the Waterways Renaissance Awards. Fingers crossed and as soon as we know, we’ll post it up here.

Have a great week.

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Massively exciting news: we have been shortlisted for the Civil Society Charity Awards 2012 for On the Waterfront, our earth shatteringly fabulous filmmaking project.
Awards dinner takers place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 14 June so I’ve already started planning my wardrobe. 
This is a really big deal for us and win or not it’s a lovely bit of recognition for the work of the On the Waterfront team and for the achievements of our brilliant young filmmakers.
Rest assured, we’ll let you know how we do on the big night.

Massively exciting news: we have been shortlisted for the Civil Society Charity Awards 2012 for On the Waterfront, our earth shatteringly fabulous filmmaking project.

Awards dinner takers place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 14 June so I’ve already started planning my wardrobe. 

This is a really big deal for us and win or not it’s a lovely bit of recognition for the work of the On the Waterfront team and for the achievements of our brilliant young filmmakers.

Rest assured, we’ll let you know how we do on the big night.

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Taking advantage of access to reliable technology I’m posting up another picture of the On the Waterfront filmmaking workshop. This one’s great: the Zombies mass in the crypt of St Mary Magdalene Church.

Taking advantage of access to reliable technology I’m posting up another picture of the On the Waterfront filmmaking workshop. This one’s great: the Zombies mass in the crypt of St Mary Magdalene Church.