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Faster, Higher, Stronger

Jump Ahead with John Roan, follow the Year 6's on their Olympic journey…

Journey To The Centre of The Brain (funded by Wellcome Trust) tours the South West

In 2014, the MakeBelieve Arts team ran a touring show of Journey to the Centre of the Brain, our theatrical exploration of the human mind, how it works and why it makes us feel the way we do. This year, we’ve run another two tours, visiting schools all around the country from children in Year 2 all the way up to Year 7. Supported by the Wellcome Trust, we wanted the show to give young children an understanding of how their brains function in a thought-provoking and engaging way, making the science behind emotions and cognitive processes accessible to everyone; even the teachers found that they learned a lot from the performance!

Having moved our main hub to Corsham in Wiltshire we were keen to lay down local roots and to tour rural areas. This we managed to do, visiting schools who have not had quality educational theatre before. The tour took us to Wiltshire, Somerset, North Devon, Dorset and thanks to the films being seen on the website, the island of Guernsey.

Journey to the Centre of the Brain features nine-year old Zac, on the night before a big test. Having not prepared himself with revision, he gets anxious, wishing that he could fly away and not have to worry. During the night, he finds himself transported into his own brain, where he meets with the various sections: Neo Cortex, Hippocampus and Cerebellum, who teach him about how they work and communicate to process ideas and feelings.

Responses from pupils have been wonderful, and the show has clearly helped them to learn in an exciting way, which inspires them to share this knowledge with others. One Year 5 pupil was proud to report that they had taught their mum something about the brain: “she didn’t know about the Neo Cortex”. It’s here that the show is most effective: teaching young pupils about rather complex scientific ideas in a way that they can understand, as well as how it affects them.

“They realise the strength their brain holds… [the show explains] how this relates to their learning”, said teachers watching the show earlier this year. They also saw the value in the show for themselves, finding an understanding of how different teaching techniques are important in reaching all learners.

Alongside the show, we released a number of accompanying films that discuss various parts of the brain in detail, using catchy songs, humour, acting and animation to engage young viewers with the content. Pupils found that the short films inspired a number of imaginative discussions, such as: “what’s the most important part of the brain?”; “what would happen if you didn’t have a memory?”; and “if you had little people inside your brain, what would be inside their heads?”.

Day Out in a Balloon was the most popular video, as after seeing all the films explaining how the various parts of the brain work, this final episode shows exactly how the

Amygdala, Temporal Lobe, Neo Cortex and Hippocampus work together to handle situations. By examining events and concerns that affect young people, the films help to relate emotions and ideas to real-life issues they may have dealt with before, helping to explain exactly why they feel the way they do.

We’ve been thrilled with the response to the show and we hope that everyone has learned something about themselves and others through it!

Please see the evaluation and films at

The power of yes

This week we focused on the importance of saying ‘yes’. Without saying ‘yes’ to each other, we would not have been able to successfully break free from the corner of the room to the door without stepping on the floor. Just look at that teamwork!

We also learned that a story about finding a fiver in your car could lead to a robot revolution.

And we decided that sometimes saying ‘yes, but’ can be just as useful as saying ‘yes, and’, because it helps ideas to build and become as powerful as they can be. But if you were only ever to say ‘no’, you wouldn’t ever get anywhere. And considering that our pupils wanted to go live in the worlds of Futurama, Harry Potter, Gotham City, and the world of the spirits, it’s a good thing they learned when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes’.


Conflict? What Conflict?

Our brilliant year sevens turned their thoughts to everyday conflicts this week. The group demonstrated their impressive use of the cockney accent as we growled  ‘oi’, ‘get out of my pub’ and ‘leave it’ in a hilarious game of Eastenders before we turned our attention to resolving conflict in a more reflective way. We improvised a range of school based conflicts, including friends arguing about not keeping each other’s secrets and picking on the ‘new kid’.

Then, as a group we discussed what each person needed and worked together to find a peaceful resolution to the problem that saw both parties getting what they wanted.

It was a real pleasure to see the group really thinking about what somebody else might need, and how this might be interpreted incorrectly in the heat of the moment! It would, perhaps, lead to a less exciting episode of Eastenders though…

Fun, friendship, affirmation, honesty…

Our brave Yr 7s from John Roan demonstrated their excellent listening and supportive skills when we discussed what we need from each other in order for us to be able to work at our best.

There were some very articulate and clear reasons given for why we need the things we need. And between them, the pupils agreed that respecting someone means treating them the way you would like to be treated yourself; that it is perfectly possible to respect someone you don’t like; that you  need honesty in order to be able to build trust; and that you can’t really achieve what you want to achieve unless you are helping everyone else in the group to work at their best, which is why you need kindness, friendship, affirmation, positivity and co-operation, at the very least.

(above picture: the washing line of needs)

What have you done today to make yourself feel proud?

The answers came thick and fast from the Yr 7 pupils we’ve been working with at John Roan on Friday morning:

“I’m really proud of working together with people I don’t know very well yet”

“I made friends with people I had never met before today”

“I won the game!”

“We worked together to make statues of a rollercoaster and a cable car”

“I had lots of fun”

(above picture: a cable car as imagined by the students)

Apart from working together to make rollercoasters, cable cars, statues of Egyptians and Rocky Balboa, the pupils also decided that the Olympics would have been even better if their suggestions for Olympic sports had been taken up. Among the sports the pupils would like to win gold medals in are: sleeping the longest, staying awake the longest and eating the most chocolate. We can only hope the International Olympic Committee is paying attention.

Jump Ahead with John Roan…

A transition triumph took place at The John Roan Secondary School this Tuesday.

Over 60 Year 6 pupils from 8 primary schools based in the Olympic Borough of Greenwich came together to  meeting and greeting the people that will be moving into, and through, secondary school with. 

Working with a drama practitioner, film maker, poet and flashmob director, the pupils produced their ideas and inspirations in answer to this question:


We created our messages to the world.  First up, lines of lyrical loveliness from Paul Lyalls and his poetic companions:


The Real Monopoly


Walking through Monopoly Town

A parade of umbrellas going round

The smell of fuel engulfs us

Shops full of fashion making people feel dizzy

Weather changing all the time

It’s so, so busy.


Cars buses and trains rushing

White vans on a mission

Faster trains on the underground, people pushing

London Bridge is falling Down

Huge landmarks scatter

Time always matters.


Immense skyscrapers tall as they can be

Dancers with ebony eyes

Sometimes the bright golden sun comes to visit

The smell of vinegar on chips

Buses full of perfume

Hello on everyone lips.


Ice cream vans roaming down the street

Alarms running through ears

The night filled with yellow light

Red signs catch your eye

Advertisements go by.


Neon colours everywhere

Big red balloons in the air

Slowly spinning Big Ben

The time is near

The time is clear

As we count down to our Olympic year

People walking talking about it all the time

This is our chance to shine.

Azariel, Armand, Gracie, Lulu, Leila, Ashley, Libby,

Tiegan, Jack, Harry, Nicholas, Lucas, Irida, Hannah,

Klaudia, Louis

Jump Ahead July 2012


The Marvellous Mercury Motivators…

How to achieve at secondary school…

We are looking forward to NEW SUBJECTS, new things and stuff we haven’t tried yet.  We’re a bit worried we might get it all wrong and might be the only ones who get it wrong.  So we thought we could do revision, got to classes outside of school and after school clubs.  And it’s ok to make mistakes, no one is perfect!

To help you remember DIFFERENT TEACHERS names, write them down in your planner.

When you’re making NEW FRIENDS, if someone is alone be the one to try and talk to them because they might be scared.

We hope you follow these rules, and don’t always be afraid.  Be yourself and don’t try and be something you’re not.  Try and find courage in yourself.  Be confident in what you are doing.  Don’t worry about what other people think of you. Don’t let people get to you when they call you names. Get friends who you can trust.

Live up to your full, get set go…

Bye Bye!




The Willow Wolves…

We think the Olympics is going to be a SPORTY, EXCITING, OLYMPIAD, with lots of TOURISTS and MAYHEM!

We tuned into OLYMPIAN TV to investigate how athletes inspire young people to carry on.  Kicking Chika is awesome, I’m inspired that he trained so hard and is now 29th best in the world.

And Karnam Malleswari, an Indian weightlifter, started at 12 so she had lots of motivation.  She’s really amazing!

What inspired us about Usain Bolt is that he broke 2 Olympic records in 2 years!

Then over to SURVIVING STARS where Alana Nichols proved everyone wrong who said you can’t do it because you’re in a wheelchair!

RUN, JUMP AND THROW with Jessica Ennis.  She was told she had an injury – OH NO!!! But she carried on and succeeded – WOW!!!


If you’re worred about MAKING NEW FRIENDS remember that there will be other kids going on their own.  You’ve got new friends to make so you’ve got more friends to invite to your party and a bigger group of friends.

It will be fun to learn NEW THINGS that you don’t do at primary school – geography, history and building stuff in technology.

Remember to RELAX over the summer holidays so you are REFRESHED in September.  You can go on websites that let you practice what you’ve been learning at school.

Adios, and peace out! 🙂



Maple Syrup Monsters

All of our INSPIRING ATHLETES have gone from low to high.  Even when they’ve been injured they have been DETERMINED to get back on top and become an Olympian.  Alana Nichols didn’t let getting paralysed get in her way.

We hope they all do well in London 2012.  You have to admit the Olympics are difficult and you are competing against the worlds best.

As for secondary school.  Try and get geared up and get in pole position!

Make sure you’re ready and you have your books, your oyster card, your tie!

We have to go to totally different classrooms for all of the subjects which is a bit scary, but we’re excited about the NEW SUBJECTS at secondary school: sport (athletics & rugby), physics, languages (Mandarin & Spanish).  Learning new languages is good because if you go away you can talk to people and ask for things.

Give NEW TEACHERS a good impression and don’t judge a teacher before meeting them.

Try and get to your school in advance: what stop to get on the bus, what stop to get off, how far to walk.

Bye bye and good luck!


Invicta Invincibles…


If you’re scared of going up to people to make friends, if you think about it they’re probably just as scared to come up to you.  So instead of doing nothing just go up to them.


In primary school there is skipping ropes and hula hoops and in secondary school there might not be, but you can find other things to do:  football, rugby, chatting to your friends.


There might be loads of older children crowding round but remember there will be other Year 7s in the same boat so stay together.


There might be lots of teachers who are really nice one day and then really strict the next.  You have to perservere, or try a time when they’re not so busy.


We’re excited about the new subjects and going into things like science in more detail.


There might be loads of pages and this might be frustrating and confusing.  But just like we said to the St Joes Dons, you can ask your parents and teachers for help.


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