One of the best experiences we had during our 10 days back in the UK involved mingling with a much younger generation, it sounds cliché but to spend time with amazing examples of bright kids in the UK was such a heart warming experience. The “youth of today”, an expression that is usually followed up by some derogatory comment. As you’ll see here, there are some great inquisitive minds working through the UK school system and we were privileged to meet quite a few.

One of our dearest friends is a primary school teacher in my home town of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Where Simon (otherwise known as Mr D) is completely different to nearly all of the teachers I had at school is that his main objective is to make learning a fun, interactive and challenging experience. This is the same guy who when teaching his class about the Sistine Chapel, had every student tape drawing paper to the underside of their desk, lie on the floor and create something. He wanted them to understand how it must have been for Michelangelo instead of just hearing about it from someone.


A slightly different classroom home to kids just as cute - Vietnam floating village, Halong Bay

A slightly different classroom home to kids just as cute – Vietnam floating village, Halong Bay

Highly aware of how social communications are changing, he was the the first teacher in his school to start explaining social networking to the kids. They now have their own (very secure and highly monitored) class blog and twitter account. It was through the twitter account that I started interacting with them, answering questions about far flung places and hearing about what they were studying. A few months ago Paul came up with the idea of stopping by the class on our visit to the UK and both teacher and kids thought it a great idea. On a gloriously sunny Friday afternoon, just a week before term ended for summer holidays we spent a brilliant afternoon with class Y34D of Hadrian Park Primary School.


We began the afternoon with introductions and an open Q&A. I have to say that I have upmost respect for teachers, having 30 eager faces listening to every word you say is pretty intimidating! They were all incredibly enthusiastic with 30 hands shooting straight up as soon as they were asked for questions. We spent around an hour answering questions such as; what was the scariest animal you’ve seen? Could Paul eat an animal the size of a bear? (his eating rep had preceded him). Which countries had we liked the most? How far has we travelled in miles? It was great fun and fantastic to get to know the kids after chatting with them online for months.


Can Paul eat me? Not if he can't see me!

Can Paul eat me? Not if he can’t see me!

Next up came the highlight of the afternoon, the moment when School of Rock came to Newcastle. Paul, for his sins, is a massive 80s rock fan. I’ve gradually introduced him to more modern music over the years but there is still a special place in his heart for the big haired rockers that are Bon Jovi. He has a great time dancing at weddings as JBJ is always rolled out! The kids caught wind of this and along with Mr D came up with a cunning plan of putting on a recital of sorts for us.

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Livin on a Prayer – Year 3, class 4D, Hadrian Park Primary School from Maddie Holland on Vimeo.


I can’t tell you how huge the grin on my face was when 30 adorable kids burst into a rendition of Livin on a Prayer that they had been rehearsing for weeks. There was dancing, air guitar, Geordie accents – it was absolutely fantastic and definitely worth a watch. Watching how proud they all were to have pulled it off with zero mistakes and the fun they were having together had me alternating between laughing out loud and being a bit teary.


Proof of Paul's love for JBJ

Proof of Paul’s love for JBJ

On a slightly more serious note, one of the greatest moments I’ve had since starting a travel blog was receiving some extremely kind words from Y34D’s resident maths genius Louis. Mr D had asked the class to write about someone that inspired them and Louis had chosen to write about Paul and I. Through reading about our travels he’s realised that he wants to explore the world, his exact words were that he wants to see everything! It makes it all worthwhile just to hear that we’ve inspired someone so young to get out and see the world. Thanks for having us Y34D, we had a blast!


If you rocked out to the sounds of class Y34D please let us know by either clicking on the heart or leaving a comment


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11 Responses

  1. Kellie

    Mr D sounds like an awesome teacher. Learning should be fun, interactive and challenging. I love the idea of a class of kids laying on the floor drawing a picture on the underside of their desk. I’ve spent most of my working life in classrooms and I wish I met more teachers like him.

    The video is brilliant, I think JBJ should be a integral part of the national curriculum!

    • Maddie

      He is an awesome teacher and the best friend you could possibly want. When he starts telling us about the various projects the kids have going on Paul and I are baffled by how he thinks of these things! P.S I think Paul would agree with you about JBJ on the curriculum 😉

  2. Mr D

    Hey Maddles, the kids had a total blast meeting you guys. It was a weird day for me, not seeing you two face to face for over a year, then all of a sudden you were swamped like the stars that you are. The children asked so many questions and you totally rocked them with your coolness and answers too. It was so valuable to them and me and to show them that some social media can be used in a positive and sensible way (like it was intended).

    So glad you liked the song and there was never going to be another choice as soon as I knew you were visiting! The guys at the council also added you to their 5 minutes on a Friday newsletter that goes out to a lot of schools in the area. Ha proper famous now!

    See you soon, this is how I roll!!!
    Mr D

    • Maddie

      We were so chuffed to have the opportunity to speak to them all. They really were a fantastic group of kids and you deserve every credit for that! I was amazed at how excited they were, how much they wanted to interact with us and above all how great they were with each other. Can’t believe we were featured in the council newsletter!! See you soon my lovely 🙂

    • Maddie

      We’re absolutely amazed constantly, having to think of new and exciting ways to learn must be exhausting! It was such a brilliant experience.

  3. Mr D

    I always ask the children for their input and it never ceases to amaze me what they want to learn, already I am seeing this sort of thing in Isabelle too, she wants to do so much and be involved in so much. Children are the future (cliche I know) but the world they live in has been made much smaller by technology and the Internet, I need to ensure that they are as at the forefront of it as I am. Haha, now if I can get technology mixed with mountain biking in the curriculum I’m sorted! Already planning something… Right off to do some more world domination planning mads, I’ll keep you informed !!!!!! Love to you both and we will see you so very soon xxx

  4. Ron Deaton

    Incredible! My primary school memories are of the primitive teaching methods that prevailed sixty years ago. But,believe it or not, I do still vividly remember a teacher who went on holiday to America coming back and spending numerous afternoons recounting the experience. Up until that time I didn’t know anybody who had flown in a plane let alone been abroad. And it could be that the bright young things you were fortunate enough to meet and inspire will still remember your visit to their school in sixty years time! Well done to you, all of the pupils and the brilliant Mr D.

    • Maddie

      It’s so nice to hear that you still remember something like that, it would be incredible if these kids grow up remembering our visit as a great day at school and hopefully that it actually inspires them to get out there and explore.

  5. Thomas

    Where was Mr D when I was in school. Too many teachers just wanted to shove the book and tell you learn this you will need it. What works for some may not work for others. That must have been a great feeling to have those kids singing to you.
    Thomas recently posted..Memorial Day Weekend Getaways IdeasMy Profile

    • Maddie

      I said exactly the same thing although during my entire school career I was lucky enough to have one brilliant teacher during my GCSE’s. His approach really helps to understand their strengths and weaknesses which can only be a good thing. The kids singing was just wonderful 🙂


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