The Principal

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Curtis Tappenden is a teacher who has featured already on this site. Apart from being an inspirational teacher, he was involved in the Reimagining Further Education Conference in July 2017. He has been involved in the UCU FE transforming lives and communities from early on.

Curtis takes up the story:

Networking is vital to look to keep the creativity and energy sustained for all of us working in Further Education. I teach Extended Diploma in Art & Design in the School of Further Education at the University for the Creative Arts, Rochester campus. I first met Edge Hill University’s, Dr. Vicky Duckworth a number of years ago when I presented at a conference. Maintaining this contact and expanding my networks on social media led to further amazing connections.  Vicky introduced me to Joel Petrie and that is where other adventures began that brought a huge wave of creativity into the classroom, a sea of inspiration for me and my learners …

Discussions with Liverpool FE academic, Joel Petrie, were timely and positively changed the lives of my first year learners. Out of our collaboration we offered a cohort of 16 & 17 year olds the chance to create illustrations for the important Further Education academic book, The Principal. Joel, as a co-editor of the book enthusiastically welcomed my initiative to set it as a ‘live’ morning project for fifty-four 1st year learners. They were required to read and understand potential chapter heading quotes, and illustrate them. The editors chose the twelve best and as a real job, they were required to adjust their artworks for professional use in the publication. Out of my professional illustration career I was able to offer advice and show the learners how they needed to produce their work to match the high standards of publishing. When course requirements partner and mirror the demands of the working world, our learners get the best deal and insights into industries they aspire to enter once qualified.

The results of this venture were stunning. I had taken a chance leaving the lesson plan and offering it as an alternative curriculum project, and have since learnt of the immense impact a real job can have on their esteem, pride and increased abilities to take on such challenges. I am hugely grateful to so many engaged and passionate educators in Further Education, who continue to champion the causes of an essential sector, and whose enthusiasm for this project has astounded me and my Extended Diploma learners.

UCU FE: Transforming lives and communities has been an incredible conduit for enhancing tutor and learner development, and my short film introducing the students and their challenging journey will hopefully communicate the benefits of such an inspiring adventure.

Watch the film at and share …. Let’s shout loud and celebrate the power of further education to transform learners’ lives, their commmunities and give hope

Curtis Tappenden, Senior Lecturer, University for the Creative Arts, Rochester campus.