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Empathy Lab UK

On Wednesday 27th November I met with other EmpathyLabUK judges, chaired by the brilliant Miranda McKearney OBE, to pitch my favourite reads from 200 submissions. After some of the best book chat imaginable with people who really know their books and fuelled by tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit, we managed to agree upon a list of 50 fantastic titles to share with readers from 5 to 16. Only I can’t tell you what they are as my lips are sealed until the reveal on the 16th January 2020.

This is my second year as a judge and the whole experience has provided fantastic opportunities to share some of the best books written in the last few years. We look for a range of titles and genres that are the highest quality writing with empathy values at their core. It is a lot of reading but as teacher and a reader I get so much from the process. I get to meet and talk to authors, teachers, publishers, librarians, reviewers and journalists. I have access to copies of great new books by contemporary authors that have refreshed my own reading and made me think again about the way we share books and develop reading habits for the young people in our classrooms. We are always looking for ways to expand and develop a living reading culture in our school. Good book knowledge is crucial.  Reading for pleasure and reading for empathy come with ever growing bodies of research that inform and confirm what many of educators have known for years: reading make us better people. Confident, mature readers do better in their exams too.

At our school we first celebrated Empathy day in 2018 and again this year; Empathy Day for 2020 is June 9th. Last year’s Empathy Day topped the twitter hashtags. I think we are all looking for a little more empathy in the world.

I’m always happy to talk books with our young people, their families and colleagues and I’m happy to say I’ve been asked back to judge next years submissions.  If you’re after a recommendation for something new to read or to share as gift then take a look at the Empathy List for 2019 on their website or come and take a look at our reading café in my classroom. We’ll post up the list for 2020 in the new year. Watch this space.

Paul Harris

Tate Late and Dawn Chorus

This month’s Tate Late will take place on Fri 29 Nov from 18.00 to 22.00 and is free entry. Dawn Chorus will feature as part of Hackoustic, a community hacking group who combine technology and traditional instruments to explore sound. Here’s the link to the event:


In the spring term, Gawain Hewitt worked with young people from across Bethlem & Maudsley Hospital School and CLS musicians to compose music in response to CLS’s Absolute Bird concert series. All the music was recorded and these tracks were installed within three wooden bird sculptures which, when placed on three different branches in different orders, create up to 33 variations of dawn choruses. CLS premiered the installation at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in May giving audiences a chance to interact with the young people’s wonderful work at our concerts.

 Here’s a short film of the piece in action:


Sam Kenny, teacher at Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School receives a 2019 Inspirational Educator Award. 

Congratulations to Sam who received it for his “innovative and highly personalised programme in science for children with acute psychiatric needs”.

Further information can be found on the link.

 Educators Awards 2019 Article in The Educator Summer 2019


Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School pupils take most exams on record

This summer has been a busy one for Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School, as pupils have sat more exams than ever during the GCSE and A Level season. The school hosted a total of 195 formal external examinations this year, which is a great testament to the resilience and determination of the pupils who worked so hard over recent weeks. Exams are stressful for all pupils, but to undertake them whilst receiving treatment in hospital and during a difficult time in their lives is additionally impressive. Pupils were supported in lessons by teachers to cover any remaining areas of the curriculum and plan revision timetables. 

Maarten Crommelin, deputy headteacher at the school said: “Exams were managed for pupils from the Snowsfields Adolescent Unit, the Bethlem Adolescent Unit, the Intensive Treatment Programme and the Enhanced Treatment Service. These pupils came to us from a range of schools, many following different exam courses with different demands and regulations….Some pupils had no schools of their own place and were entered for the examinations by The Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School.”

To read the full article click here.


Bespoken Theatre becomes school’s new resident theatre company.

Bespoken Theatre are delighted to announce that they are the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital school’s resident theatre company.

They will work closely with the school to write and perform productions with the children and deliver drama and art workshops tailored to particular themes within the curriculum.

It has been a busy few months at the school and Bespoken have been working closely with children and staff to create unique and individual shows that are tailored to enhance and develop the learning curriculum of the school.

The final show this summer was to celebrate the life of Mary Anning. Creating an immersive historical production about the incredible contributions that Anning made to Natural History and Paleontology.

The children were encouraged to dress up as Victorian fossil hunters and help Mary discover fossils on the beach. They also explored the history of the Victorian holiday and after a music hall interlude, were invited to queue for a delicious vanilla treat at a bespoke ice cream stall.

It was a wonderful end to an wonderful term. The company have many plans for next Autumn term including preparation for a Christmas show.

Watch this space…

Bespoken Theatre company