Young Londoners with Irons in the fire

Irons in the fire film screening: celebrating innovation in London’s youth

Star rating: *****
London Festival of Education
Celebrating Education in London
Main Hall – Institute of Education
London WC1
Saturday 28th February 2015

“The ‘Irons in the Fire’ documentary calls for more creative opportunity for London’s ‘at-risk’ youth by profiling the work of five innovative youth organisations.”

This discussion and film screening sought to shine a light on what youth mentoring is achieving in innovative projects across London.

Dr Karen Edge of the Institute of Education introduced the film ‘Irons in the fire’, a short (22 minutes) documentary film focused on the lives of five young people trying to make their way into various careers such as DJ’ing to becoming a Chef at Jamie Oliver’s ‘Fifteen restaurant’. It was inspirational to see them achieve their dreams and aspirations. The visual shots and special effects were excellent and it was an added bonus to have the narration from award winning actor Idris Elba.

“The film resonated with me because I recognised things that I went through. It’s important these stories get out there.” Idris Elba, Narrator and Associate Producer, Irons in the Fire.

The film maker; Yoav Seagal stated that the aim of the film was to be a prompt for change. To show that “we can be the change.” The film features Spoken Word Poet ‘George The Poet’, who also spoke at the conference.

The film was followed by a presentation and Q&A session with Yoav Seagal (Film maker/theatre producer), Joe Dives (Producer) and Adem Holness (Vocalist and music leader) and a group of three young volunteers from the Bigga Fish charity (one of the charities helping young people to achieve which was featured in the film). They talked about the film, problems with the education system, inequality and how badly adults engage with young people.

It was great to hear the contribution from the young people and experience their willingness to engage with the audience over possible solutions.

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Ella Bonai-Gordon, 19, (pictured above) was particularly inspirational. She revealed that she was predicted to get F grades at her GCSE’s but worked hard, exceeded expectations and got A’s instead. She said, “To effect change you have to be the change you want to see.”

I later discovered that Ella works as a motivational speaker and this shone through in some of her statements and her confident, eloquent manner on stage.

There was consensus that Education is not just what happens in the classroom, but what happens outside ‘in the real world’. For instance, in criticising the way the vital subject of maths is taught, Ella said, “I hated maths. I didn’t see the point of algebra. Bigga fish taught me to view maths as being about problem solving. That in life every problem has a solution and so you think about things to find solution. If you apply that to solving algebra and other mathematical equations you can improve at maths.”

A Physics teacher in the audience said,” School doesn’t work for far too many children. They’re stuck in a classroom from Monday to Friday, five days a week. We would not expect adults to do this day in day out. It’s tough. We need to give children something practical to do.”

This was a good point and echoed comments made by other delegates and speakers who said the main problem with education is the culture. It never changes. Apparently children get the same old, same old. The adults need to listen to the young people about how they would like to see lessons taught, particularly as they may well have some of the answers.

Ella said one of the problems was that,”you’re just taught to pass exams and get a job. Not the practicalities or how to create your own job.” Speaking positively she said “You can be a complainer or be the change. Bigga Fish turned my nothing into something”

Nii Sackey, the Founder and CEO of Biggafish spoke of his big vision for London’s youth culture and will be continuing to work on this with his Bigga Fish team.

Talking of the importance of having a good team and team work he revealed that all staff taken on by Bigga Fish have a Belbin test done on them. This is a test derived by Dr Meredith Belbin to help identify what sort of employee, team player you are and can help team leaders and recruiters identify if they have the right balance of skills and people in their teams.

This was a fascinating and stirring debate about the power of youth engagement, the state of the education system and what we can do to improve it. “It takes a village to raise a child and we all have a role to play in raising the children of our village.”

‘Irons in the fire’ was released in cinemas in December 2013. It was then shown on Sky TV and is now shown three times a week on Sky 3D. It is not due for a wider release until the middle of 2016.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Thank you for reading our review. We hope you enjoyed it and that if you did, will post a comment and/or share it with others who have the same interest in this topic and may also appreciate the chance to read it and comment.

For further information:–

1. Bigga Fish charity
2. London Festival of Education – LFE 2015 Programme

3. Reach Society Careers Conference  – 4th April 2013

4. 100BMOL – Future Young Leaders – 100 Black Men of London Graduation Ceremony –  21st July 2012

5. Link to all Tiemo’s LFE 2015 reviews – 28th February 2015

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One Response to Young Londoners with Irons in the fire

  1. Pingback: Kenny Report 3 launch- It Matters | tiemotalkofthetown

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