Making a dent in more than a sofa

I spent my birthday in a French Bowling Alley with a group of educators in a retail park outside of Toulouse. If that wasn’t enough the highlight of my 35 years I also went minimally viral for sitting on a squidgy sofa. I also got my phone out during a keynote address to send an email to the CEO of my Multi-Academy Trust. These are a few of the events of a pivotal couple of days in my career…

Created by Mark Shillitoe 2015

The official event was Practical Pedagogies organised by Russell Tarr from International School of Toulouse. This is an event based wgich started as an in-house professional development project that grew and grew to an international gathering of educators to share ideas and spend some quality time learning and developing our practice. I was made aware of it by Cindy Crannell, who lead a session with Mark Stillitoe (he took the sofa picture), and applied to do a session about Marking and Feedback as it was an idea I had been developing that I wanted to try out. I shared a selection of Marking and Feedback techniques that I have used that do not involve pen and paper. Hence the slightly provocative title “Marking and Feedback without coloured pens”. My session was accepted and my schools approved a couple of days in Toulouse.

My session aside the event was a triumph and Russell should be very proud of the positive impact it will have on a range of schools and classrooms Europe wide and probably beyond. Thanks to Miles Berry I have a huge amount to take back to the computing curriculum forum I facilitate across a number of Primary Schools.

If the sessions throughout the two days were not enough the keynote speaker was Ewan McIntosh. His company Notosh has some impressive credentials, working with a range of schools and companies to drive positive change using Design Thinking. Since joining twitter and following Tom Barrett, one of Ewan’s colleagues at Notosh, I have been intrigued by Notosh and their apparent clarity of vision which enables them to deliver in a variety of scenarios.

Ewan referred to Steve Job’s quote of about putting a dent in the universe and soon after that I put a rather large dent in a sofa. I shall resist mixed and laboured metaphors but simply say Ewan had me hooked and I am determined to utilise Design Thinking within my own organisation to gain increased clarity on my aim to embed technology in learning across our Multi-Academy Trust.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

— Steve Jobs

In Ewan’s closing session (I was not the only person welling up during the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra) he asked us all to make the big thing, the big thing and decide on what our objective would be and the strategy and tactics to achieve it. The tweet I created at the time is below.

I have adapted it and will probably continue to do so..


Embed technology in outstanding learning across my Mutli-Academy Trust


Ensure a robust and appropriate infrastructure for each school that they can rely on. Build confidence in all staff to be aware of opportunities to enhance learning with technology.


Design Thinking Design thinking is a process that Notosh use in all their work to help organisations identify problems and create ideas and prototype solutions. I have been threatening to use this for a while and Ewan’s keynote was the reminder I needed to get on with it. This blog post and subsequent ones are my reflections of this process which starts now. Check back in to find out how we get on on the journey from making a dent in a sofa to making a dent in the universe…

If you would like to see everyone else’s objectives, strategies and tactics click here. Thanks to Dave Stacey for compiling them via storify.



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