School’s Reading Volunteer

Sheffield Council advertise for Reading and Talking Volunteers to visit Primary and Secondary schools. This would provide me with experience in a school but at the same time something I can work around having two children/studying. The role requires between 1/2 to 1 hour each week for between 6 to 10 weeks.

It is also one of the ways recommend by the Get Into Teaching Website to help gain classroom experience:

“To improve your chances of gaining school experience, you could also offer to volunteer at a school. Volunteering in general is a great opportunity to gain experience of working with children. You could also volunteer to work in a youth club or as a Scout or Guide leader – particularly during summer when schools are closed.

Many volunteering opportunities, such as after-school clubs, sports coaching or youth schemes, take place during evenings or at weekends, so you can fit volunteering around your existing commitments.”

UPDATE: I attend a training session on the 26/02/2018 and have contacted the school about arranging a suitable time to start my volunteering.


Professional Skills Test

“You have to pass the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy before you begin your teacher training. Almost 90% passed both skills tests in 2015/16 – the key to successfully passing is plenty of preparation and practice.” –

I will try the practice test for the Professional Skills Test but I’m not going to take the actual test as it only lasts 3 years and I don’t plan on applying for a PGCE until my children are older.

Although I have a GCSE grade C in Math and English, Math and English is not my strong point. Part of the Professional Skills Test is spelling – which is something I have always struggled with.

UPDATE: Took one of the practice Literacy test this evening, 27/11/2017, and got 70%.

I can’t find an official answer but the pass mark according to this thread on The Student Room website is 63% for the skills test. However, there are another 3 Literacy practice tests and 4 Numeracy ones which I haven’t completed yet.

Challenging Stereotypes

Hollywood has been challenging some of the gender stereotypes through remakes and promoting strong female leads. For example Ghostbusters (2016).

Ghostbusters 2016

The recent Star Wars Film, The Last Jedi has a strong female lead in the name of Rey.

The Last Jedi

There is also the upcoming remake of Ocean’s Eleven with a female cast.

Some people have been unhappy in what they perceive to be casting females just appeal to the left wing, feminists, etc. For example casting a female to play the Doctor in the Doctor Who series (

Illustration Research

Al Murphy created these brilliant illustrations for one of my sons favourite books, Kitchen Disco:

Axel Scheffer has illustrated some of the most popular childrens books.

I wanted my own illustrations to be hand-drawn as I feel the simplistic style of the illustrations would attract children and the bold colours would attract both children and parents.

Nick Sharratt, who has also worked with Julia Donaldson to some very bold and bright illustrations.parade of characters

Hippo in a Hat

Image result for hippo has a hat

Quentin Blake has a very fluid, relaxed illustration style. And has created illustrations for many children’s books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, The Twits, and Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, amongst others.

Image result for quentin blake illustrations

Image result for quentin blake illustrations

Notes and Sketches – Toy Advertising Ideas

Initial sketches/notes/experimental designs and notes for gender reversal/gender neutral advertising.

Feedback about the above design that it wasn’t different enough, seen as normal for girls to ride bikes. The slogan needs to be associated more with the opposite gender for it to stand out but the boy/toy washing advert received positive feedback as it challenged gender stereotypes.

Pop-Up and Explosion Cards

Looking at a few competition briefs, one that I’m considering is this one: Antalis Brief New Blood Awards 2018, in brief below;

“Create a physical experience for Conqueror that explores and celebrates the possibilities of paper as a physical, tactile, and creative material for design. Create the unexpected and the imaginative, the inspiring and the innovative – but create it using paper, in a way that brings the medium back to the forefront of creative minds.”

I started thinking of creative ways to use paper and create a sense of movement or make it 3D. If this was to be mailed out to Graphic Design Agencies then it would need to be flat, which made me think of pop-up cards and books. Researching brought up variations on this such as:

Directions for an exploding circle book

Paper + Book + Art | 紙 + 著作 + アート | книга + бумага + статья | Papier + Livre + Créations Artistiques | Carta + Libro + Arte | Calendar – Pop-up Poem Book by Éva Somogyi... | accordian-book-tutorial

Also started to think about cut outs, such as laser cutting which can create very detail cut outs. For example;


This sort of techniques give a tactile and “real” feel, something that can’t be replicated with digital technologies.

More here:

I’m going to have a play around making different types of pop-up and explosion cards as a starting point to give me some ideas.

Taking into consideration the following guidelines for postage sizes:

Reflecting on Photo Choices

I have had to search hard for suitable images. Girls playing with “boys” toys is a lot easier to find than boys playing with “girls” toys.  I need to find the right images, images big enough and work with a phrase. Therefore not all ideas have come in to fruition.

One of the images was of a boy looking into a washing machine. It wasn’t working in its current form so I drew a vector washing machine. This added a more fun, child-friendly feel and consistent with the other adverts.

The path puzzles are to be printed in magazines so they are more subtle. 3 toys will be used in the ads – one gender neutral, one non-stereotypical and one stereotypical. No toy is wrong, a boy can play with a boys toy and a girls. No saying one is right or wrong.

Placement and Portfolio Review

Having spoken to Paul about my portfolio and applying for a placement, I will be looking for a work experience placement. We also discussed the job market and how competitive it is, with some jobs getting over a 100 applications. The requirement for flexibility with the job as in possible short notice overtime. This is a concern for me in regards to childcare issues.

I discussed my concerns that I’m not on the same level as the rest of my cohort, however, Paul has given me confidence that I have other skills which others may not and I should “sell myself” on that basis. We also discussed how some others on my course already have connections within the design world which is something I don’t have. Networking is so important in so many industries, on a positive note I already have my portfolio on Behance, Pinterest and Twitter. I also have an Instagram account, Flickr page and LinkedIn profile.

I have written out a draft email which I will email to Paul to check over.

I have looked at the Graphic Design Agencies which are on my side of Sheffield, I live in Parson Cross so I don’t want to go too far to the other side as not only will I be travelling by bus I also don’t want to be back too late as I have 2 small children (5 and 3).

So far I have come up with the following design agencies, which I will look into further before sending out emails:

Vivid Creative

Ink and Water

The Nu Agency

Field Design

Diva Creative

Leap Design

Volta Creative


Side by Side

Tonik Studio

DS Creative

Insta Design

Mesh Viz

Moors Creative

I have taken a brief look at design competitions from YCN, D & AD and International Society of Typographic Designers but I haven’t looked in detail yet. I would like to pick at least one brief to work upon.