World Reader and St Jordi’s Day in Barcelona

w reader


We had just met with Zev from the World Reader organisation at a World Literacy Foundation conference in Oxford. Some concepts just make sense form the start and this was our feelings for World Reader.

It works by loading a Kindle with over 300 books taking to Africa, direct to communities where the children have the chance to read! No more expensive lorry loads of slightly used books trying to find their way across the continent and then being stopped and refused entry.

This scheme actually works! You just need a small mind shift to know that children in Africa can access Kindles and benefit hugely from the supply of information at their fingertips.


The inquiring and smiling faces says it all. World Reader projects has some excellent photos. Read the stories of how empowering this project is for the whole family, Daniel and his grandmother are just one example.

We were invited to World Reader‘s new office celebrations and also to mark their ambition to get 1 million books into Africa. How amazing is that!

la ramblaOn St Jordi’s day in Barcelona the streets were full, the tradition is to mark the day of their patron saint by sharing gifts; the man to buy the woman a flower and the woman to buy the man a book.

At the SmithMartin Partnership we were delighted to celebrate with World Reader and look forward to being involved. It parallels and brings into one, our work with communities, children’s literature and modern technology solutions.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP Inspiring communities and Broadening Horizons

Dolphin Booksellers– the best in children’s books always on line

Daycare Trust Conference
November 2011

dtChildcare policy and the wider role of the community was the focus of the Daycare Trust annual conference in London on 22 November.

A subject one would expect to have been well and truly embedded in the structure of our society. All the evidence clearly indicates the benefit of excellent early years environments and good foundations for young children. The effect on raising aspirations and morale of parents, enabling all to enjoy this crucial time in their lives is such a bonus.

Kate Groucutt, Policy Director provided information about the numbers of Children’s Centres that are facing major changes or have closed, in the light of budget cuts. The removal of ring fenced budgets means that local authorities are, in some cases having to make major cuts.

Harriet Harman reflected that a child- centred’ view is what many parents want and that it should be part of the infra structure. It is a universal requirement and not just for those parents in most need.

Other speakers included; Professor John Mohan  from Southampton University, Lynn Chesterman from the Grandparents Association, representatives from Children’s Centres and local authorities,Professor Pat Thane, social historian, from King’s College and Sarah Teather, Minister of State for Children and Families.

Daycare Trust, still in the driving seat campaigning for childcare and the provider of research, training and consultancy.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – bringing life to communities – centres and enterprise

World Bank Papers into Puppets – recycling project

brBunker Roy explains an amazing college and concept in Rajasthan, India. An extraordinary school teaches rural women and men — many of them illiterate — to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages.

It’s called the Barefoot College.

Through TED, Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College explains that it works without money or qualifications. In fact if you have any qualifications you are not able to attend.

In remote villages in India and also Afghanistan, projects which have benefited the communities have reshaped people’s lives. The women have been given training and help to make projects work. They made solar cables and equipment to bring light to their villages. Imagine the difference that light at night has made to their lives. The cost is negligible and uses resources like sunlight, always there.

‘What is the best way to communicate?’ asks Bunker Roy. ‘Is it telephone, television…. No telewoman!’

It is an engaging video and inspiring speaker with a calm and quiet confidence. Despite having the best education in India Bunker Roy wanted to work with the villages, his mother wouldn’t speak to him for 5 years.

No money no problem! And even a project to make puppets out of recycled World Bank papers!!

SmithMartin Partnership – bringing communities together

Steve Jobs How to Live before you die

Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, sadly died this week. Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with school friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. Initially based out of his family garage in California, the firm has grown into the world’s most valuable technology company.


Photo from Pixar Animations

Born in 1955, his student mother decided it was best for him to be adopted. Her plan for him to be son of college graduates was thwarted as when he was born, the intended adopted parents decided they would rather have a girl.

This info is from Stanford University as seen on TED – Ideas worth spreading. This is a beautiful video- needs watching!

Steve did get to college but dropped out when he realised that his parents were spending all their savings on his education. But he turned this into a big advantage, he went to calligraphy classes so he recognised and understood the beautiful typography that helped to make Apple great.

Apple – a huge company and success in beauty, technology and compulsive functionality.

BUzz Lt YrBut Pixar too, an animation company with success like Toy Story and Finding Nemo, using really expensive computer animation.

IPhones and IPads, amazing technology in beautiful products and used by millions.

Steve Jobs a man who had total belief in his own abilities.

His great gifts were an ability to second guess the market and an eye for well designed and innovative products that everyone would buy.

A man who followed his intuition and his heart.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP- bringing technology into communities

Youth Services



The end of the summer holidays is fast approaching, have we seen the final acts of youth services as clubs and activities struggle to continue.


Youngsters in King’s Lynn park, Norfolk. Across the county around 300 youth projects have closed, as well as council-run youth centres. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Much has been heard of the issues in inner city areas and indeed problems are large and significant. But it was interesting to see in the Society Guardian, Wednesday 24 August 2011 a whole page spread on the cuts to youth services in Norfolk, focusing on the town of King’s Lynn.There are many towns like King’s Lynn across the country and to quote Canon Bill Hurdman, whilst ministering in King’s Lynn,

It has all the problems of an inner city area without any of the buzz”

A group of young people are interviewed outside the supermarket, where they have already been banned from gathering in groups of more than two.

The youth centre at Providence St has been closed, not the most inspiring of places, but at least was a place they young people could go, talk to their mates, have some fun and maybe learn at the same time.

This loss is being replicated across the country. What effect will this have? More importantly how will the morale and aspirations of young people find a place in all our towns.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP, developing community projects.

Forest Schools

treeThis really captured our imagination at at a time when schools are about to go through further changes.
Could be just the opportunity to see if a Forest School could be the way forward for children to experience the joy of experiential learning in an outdoor environment. It can be true release from the confines of the classroom which many young people find claustrophobic and not conducive to learning.

A recent tv programme has taken a group of boys to outside challenging environments and the success was amazing. Not just for the actual learning but for the desire to find out more.

The Forest Schools Website, full of information gives the following outline.

The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences


‘Forest Schools is an innovative educational approach to outdoor learning. The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences. ‘

Forest Schools has demonstrated success with children of all ages who visit the same local woodlands on a regular basis and through play, who have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. Forest School Programmes run throughout the year, for about 36 weeks, going to the woods in all weathers (except for high winds). Children use full sized tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social, establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem and become self motivated.

Definitely worth checking out, we have just heard of a nursery who is starting on the scheme and would love to be there with them as they journey into the woods.

We have been involved with an organisation called Woodland Ways for some time and place great value on the inspiration and satisfaction from developing woods in both rural and urban areas.

Sue Martin -SmithMartin Partnership LLP – creating futures, enabling imaginations

Outdoor Play Space

runnPlaying outside is one of the most natural experiences for children of all ages. What more can be gained and enjoyed than climbing a fallen tree, creeping among bamboo canes, exploring in hidden corners.

There’s lots to take into account when designing for a play space where all children can feel safe yet free.

Children can have fun and learn at the same time which is fundamentally behind the meaning of play. In an adult world we us words like research and experimenting. It describes a process of finding out, feeling we can try and fail or succeed, of being on our own or with friends and peers.

In designing play spaces lots of natural materials and features will encourage and give space for fun and finding out. Small hills to climb, willow arbors to creep in, paths to explore, places to hide and of course space to run and burn up that amazing amount of energy that children have.

slideAlongside that, all children like to have swings, slides, climbing frames, ropes, sandpits and all the traditional play area equipment. The ground surface needs to be safe and where there are high climbing points they will need extra depth to the rubber surface.

But the focus for the play area is best spent on design and integration of a wide range of natural spaces and features linked in with colourful equipment.

All play areas should have regard to children with special needs and this is easily part of the design based on a natural approach. It is built in from the start, not as an added extra.

Parents and carers are important too! Seating and space for pushchairs and large amount of things that all families need can be part of the design. If the parents can relax and feel their children are safe and having a good time the play area will be better used.

At SmithMartin Partnership LLP we have created designs for play areas. We are part of Learning Through Landscapes and SkillsActive which are both part of the agenda for developing play.