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Essential Life Skills

How do we SPARKLE after school?

Expand each of the sections below to find out more! 

  • Scruffy Little Herbert T-Shirt Design Club

    I studied the BTEC Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Newcastle-under-Lyme College, specialising in ceramics.  The course gave me confidence in my abilities and helped me to build a mass of artistic skills.

     I then progressed to Loughborough University School of Art and completed a degree in Fine Art.

     My practice has always been varied, never settling fully on one medium.  After many years working in retail in supervisory roles, I decided to set up my own business.  That’s when Scruffy Little Herbert was born.  I saw a gap in the market for products based around local pride and instilling this identity and pride into new generations. 

     Sales have been so successful that I now run Scruffy Little Herbert full time and my time is dedicated to growing the brand and business. 

     I was approached by Stoke Minster Primary Academy who, as part of their SPARKLE curriculum, wanted to develop the same aspirations that I have with their pupils.  These pupils are the designers and creatives of the future generation and I was honoured to share my skills and expertise as a designer and business woman with them.

     If you are interested in workshops at your school, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Over the 6 weeks pupils looked at setting up their own design company-Stoke on Trend. They designed their own T-Shirts based on local themes. They then screen printed them, modelled them and created their own catalogue which is available to purchase at the bargain price of £2.00

  • Natasha Austin Minecraft Club

    I am a Teaching Assistant at Stoke Minster Primary Academy, but I am also a self-declared geek! I love computing!

    I was first introduced to the school in my previous role as an IT Support Technician for the company that looks after the school’s IT infrastructure.  I saw what a great job the school was doing and wanted to become more involved with the education of children, something that I had done previously. 

    I joined the school in January this year and have been instrumental in providing another dimension to computing within school and across the curriculum.  I came across Minecraft for Education and thought a club was a great way to enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and iSPARKLE in a fun, familiar and engaging way. 

    I hope that my passion for all things technical has been a launch pad for children to use technology in alternative ways and hopefully to become innovators of the future.

  • Stephen Liddle Painting Club

    Stephen is an artist and Early Years Practitioner living and working in the Stoke In Trent area. Originally from a North Eastern mining community, and seeing similarities in the landscape of that town and the buildings of Stoke's industrial heritage, he began sketching and painting locally trying different styles and media to capture the feel if the city. His style and technique are still evolving though the subject matter he loves, the streets of Stoke On Trent, have remained in some cases practically unchanged for many years.

    Over the six weeks, the pupils explored the process of how Stephen creates his works. They photographed local buildings and experimented with using new materials. The final works were framed and will be put on display.

  • Stephen Leadley Airfix Club

    Upon completion of my degree in 3-Dimensional Design, I worked for 20 years as a modeller for two local ceramic companies, Spode and Royal Doulton.  During this time, I learned to use several CAD/CAM programmes and eventually, ran the CAD/CAM Department at Royal Doulton. Due to the decline of the ceramics industry, I decided to embark on a PGCE course and redirected my career as a Design and Technology teacher and have taught at Longton High School, Blurton High School, which later became Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy, Encore PRU and Reach Academy. I currently teach Construction and Engineering at Stoke Studio College, but still maintain links with Reach Academy.

    I have had an avid interest in model making and History since I was a child and I am currently Branch Secretary for Stoke on Trent Model Club.  The club meets weekly in Longton and we attend many shows around the country, displaying the varied work we produce. The club is also invited each year to judge the modelling competition run by the Air Cadets at their  regional Wing Field Day. I also sculpt and paint figures and busts, both commercially and for my own pleasure.

    Over the 6 weeks pupils created a Spitfire model each from a kit.

  • Alan Barrett Writing Club

    Alan Barrett, writer, actor, poet, storyteller; has lived and worked in Stoke upon Trent for most of his working life, apart from a brief sojourn across the border to Newcastle, then honing his skills on assorted tours around the UK for 5 years, and is very proudly its Cultural Champion.

    Working in schools, libraries, community centres and just about anywhere he can find an audience, he uses all forms of literacy, poetry, drama, scripts, stories, essays and more to inspire reluctant and even sceptical minds, infusing all participants with one extremely vital component - confidence.

    Over the past few weeks, Alan has worked with several year 3/4 pupils and they produced well-crafted poems regarding the history of the town.

    Later, working with some very impressive ladies from year 6, tracing a little history of the town, they propose a potentially true story about the early use of London Road as a horse racing venue. You may be inclined to ponder its veracity, but consider this - is it a complete fabrication, or does the truth lie within the fevered imaginations of the ladies themselves?

    See our story Victorem below. 

  • Kate Marshall Drama Club

    Hi, my name is Kate Marshall.  In 2007, after a 25 year career teaching Creative and Performing Arts, I answered the call to ministry.  For the past decade I have been working in both faith and secular schools across the city, using creative art as a means of exploring spiritual identity. 

    Creativity in any form is important for personal wellbeing. Through the creative process, we open ourselves to both intellectual and spiritual growth. 

    I offer workshops and projects that support, not only faith based, but whole school curriculum.  All workshops are bespoke and specifically written for each individual school.

    Kate’s fabulous and thought-provoking drama explored how we are responsible for looking after our world.

  • Alice Thatcher Ceramics Club

    Alice Thatcher worked with children at the school for 6 weeks at the start of 2019. During this time, the children created a ‘leaves’ installation based on the Spode Willow Pattern. The children learned about local heritage while developing their clay skills. The participants used a mono-printing technique to create the drawings, alongside various sculpture techniques to create the leaves and the textures.

     Alice is an artist working with clay and people. Her work reflects ideas of fragility, material transformation and human relationships. Alice is passionate about sharing her ceramic skills with young people as she believes it is crucial in enabling Stoke-on-Trent to develop creatively and culturally.

    Over the 6 weeks pupils explored clay techniques and willow pattern designs. They then created their own clay leaves, decorating them and then displaying them in an installation in a worship area.

  • Dean Brindley Writer in the Community-Poetry Project

    Like my parents and grandparents before me, I live in Stoke-on-Trent.

    Since graduating from North Staffs Polytechnic in 1984 with a BA (Hons) in Multi-Disciplinary Design, I’ve worked mainly in advertising agencies as a creative copywriter (with a couple of spells as a Civil Servant).

    I’m a Creative Director at Design and Marketing Practice Mac & Dean Ltd and I’m currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Keele University.

    My interests include drawing, local history research, performing poetry and singing, and whenever I can I like to go walking. I’m also a keen gardener.

    While I’m sure people would consider me to be generally an ‘up’ and positive person, my poetry tends to lean towards the melancholy. Some of it is humorous but usually it’s tinged with a sense of loss or foreboding (not sure why). I like to write about people and their emotions so I’m sort of a portrait painter rather than a landscape artist.

    My first collection of poetry ‘Buffalo Bill and the London Road Elephant’ relates to stories of Boothen in the Victorian period and is available from Stoke and Hanley Libraries.

    Dean worked with Year 4 pupils to write their own poetry. A book entitled 'What it is to be us' is available for sale at a cost of £3.00

  • Teddy Sawyer Northern Soul Dance Club

    I grew up in a worn out mining village in Lancashire and discovered the freedom, discipline, and spirituality of dancing to the music of ‘black America’. I watched a community of young people inspired by the tension and energy of contemporary soul music turn into a college of  archivists and a network of mutual support and appreciation; Northern Soul ! Keep the Faith!

    1969-70 A disc jockey and record dealer as ‘Soul-Unlimited’, Southport.

    1970-71 Radio Doom Good Guys/North West Musical Enterprises, staff team as: dance performer, lighting artist technician, book-keeper. Affiliated to Great George’s Community Arts Centre, Liverpool.

    1971 Student at the London School of Contemporary Dance

    1976-80 Studied Fine Art and Art History, Blackpool College, and Hornsey, London (Middlesex Polytechnic)

    1980-87 Artist-engineer teaching multi-media arts at:  Tower Hamlets College, Chats Palace Arts Centre.   As an artist I have exhibited at ICA Gallery London and The Whitworth Gallery Manchester.   After spending some years as a free-lance camera support technician in the film and television industry, I ran my own small engineering firm for thirty years whilst training and serving as a preacher in the Methodist Church

    2002-04 Studied evangelism and ministry at Cliff College.  I am a Companion of The Northumbria (Celtic-Christian) Community and a Quaker. 

    I presently run The Peace Place - Bradwell, retreat and Celtic Sanctuary; landscaping, planting and nurturing trees and caring for chickens and North-Ronaldsey sheep.

    Over the 6 weeks, Ted and the dance club looked at the origins of Northern Soul Dance. They explored the various moves as well as the theme of community and support that is a huge part of the Northern Soul philosophy.


The grand finale of our ELS Clubs was a showcase at the Jubilee Rooms at the King’s Hall in Stoke. Invited guests included the Lord Mayor, Bishop Geoff Annas, Mrs Schofield Thistley Hough Head, representatives from St Modwen and Staffs Housing. Parents, pupils, staff and workshop organisers, joined together to celebrate all of the hard work. The choir sang a selection of songs including our Stoke Song (Quarter of a Million in the Stoke City Choir) written by former pupils. Drama Club performed; Story-telling group shared their mystery story based on local landmarks and Northern Soul Dance group did their thing! What a night it was!


As a staff we decided that I should represent innovate and create- important life-long skills. The focus on innovation and creativity will also support staff in making more creative links between subject areas.

To find out more about our SPARKLE Curriculum visit this page


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