Stephen Fry backs schools project to inspire children with Norfolk stories

An online bank of Norfolk videos and resources is to be released to support teaching in schools.

An online bank of Norfolk videos and resources is to be released to support teaching in schools. - Credit: PA

Stephen Fry and Ed Balls are among the well-known names to have given their support to an education project that aims to inspire children with stories about Norfolk. 

A festival of learning open to all local schools, families and communities, Inspiring Norfolk will feature fascinating local stories, places and people designed to get children to learn about what’s on their doorstep.

An online bank of videos and resources is to be released to support teaching in schools who will be able to choose what they draw on to create their own themed days or festivals during June and July.

Videos are set to be included from Norwich Museum Service, Norwich Cathedral, the RNLI and individual contributors like former Sheringham Primary headteacher Dominic Cragoe, who is now a wildlife warden and has produced a video about seals at Horsey.

Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary and Nursery School in Costessey

Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary and Nursery School in Costessey - Credit: Archant

Topics covered so far range from nature photography to how Kettle Chips are made, or the history of ancient graffiti in Norwich Cathedral, but more people and local organisations are being encouraged to contribute.


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Co-founder Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary and Nursery School in Costessey, said: “They are a diverse range but the thing that holds it all together is Norfolk.

“People who live and work in Norfolk are actually quite passionate about our identity and what happens in the county and want to share that with our young people.”

Inspiring Norfolk online resources are aimed to support teaching, learning and wellbeing.

Inspiring Norfolk online resources are aimed to support teaching, learning and wellbeing. - Credit: DNEAT

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Mrs Sheppard said the idea had come from incorporating local stories in classroom learning at her own school.  

“We have looked at things like the Queen’s Hill estate and who was Sir Alfred Munnings, so the children get an idea of what is going on around them,” she said. “All these films are really good starting points for discussions or curriculum enrichment.”

Stephen Fry, who recalled his own childhood cycling around Norfolk and sending things to Blue Peter to try and get a badge, said he hoped the project would encourage today’s children to learn more about the county.

Stephen Fry has helped launch Inspiring Norfolk with a video message.

Stephen Fry has helped launch Inspiring Norfolk with a video message. - Credit: Archant

In a video to launch the project, he said: “Being Norfolk raised myself I have some fantastic memories of growing up in this wonderful place, especially if you’re a child that loves nature. 

“I hope that the resources will inspire you to find out something new about Norfolk or to see something that you are familiar with in a different light.” 

Ed Balls, former secretary of state for children, schools and families, said: “Inspiring Norfolk 2021 is such a brilliant idea. A festival to give school children, families, all of us the materials and insight to go out and discover even more about the amazing county in which we live, work and learn.”

The project has also won the backing of education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins, who is in charge of ensuring children catch-up on lost learning after disruptions to schools during the pandemic. 

He said: “It is clear there is a wide range of inspiring and easily accessible resources and activities planned, which will enrich the learning and support the wellbeing of young people in Norfolk. I wish the project and all those involved every success.”

Ed Balls backs Inspiring Norfolk in video message.

Ed Balls backs Inspiring Norfolk in video message. - Credit: Inspiring Norfolk

Mrs Sheppard, who teamed up with Norfolk County Council, the UEA and Fred Corbett, a trustee of St Benet’s Multi-Academy Trust, to launch the project said part of the inspiration lay in her own education at Old Buckenham Primary. 

She said: “Mr Brooks the headteacher always had a nature table and we were very much in touch with the seasons and birdsong. 

“I was thinking let’s take that one step further and introduce the children to the diversity of Norfolk. It is such a diverse county.

Some of the videos based on Norfolk places and stories being released to help schools as part of the project.

Some of the videos based on Norfolk places and stories being released to help schools as part of the project. - Credit: Inspiring Norfolk

“This is not about increasing screen time for children because we know that was one of the issues during lockdown. What we are hoping is that watching five minute videos will encourage children. That it will connect children with the outdoors and with what is on their doorstep.”

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