Lancaster Royal
Grammar School

Northern Lights

Frank Cottrell Boyce is the successful children’s writer (CosmicMillionsFramed) who scripted the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. 

He gave a remarkable speech at the Northern Lights education conference in Carlisle last week. He explained how themes from his father’s school days resonated through his family, and he traced his career back to a lesson at primary school when his teacher read out a story he had written to the class. 

And he spoke to us about the industrial revolution. 

Imagine the Earth, he said, orbiting the sun for millions of years.  Sunlight streaming onto that planet through long ages.  And some of it captured by algae, ferns and trees, and laid down in deep layers of coal. 

Until one day. 

In 18th century Coalbrookdale, miners dug those rich seams.  The sun’s long-stored energy was released, and from it flowed the endless possibilities of the industrial revolution.  It shaped everything we have today – good and bad – from steam trains to space travel. 

And that’s what teaching does, he told us. 

Lesson by lesson, day by day, year after year, teachers shine great streams of light onto their classes.  Some of the effects are seen at once, but some are ideas and values laid deep, deep in pupils’ lives. 

And when they are released – perhaps many years later – great possibilities result that may shape their lives forever. 

Frank Cottrell Boyce’s primary teacher could never have imagined the effect she had, but the energy of teaching resonates through lives and generations.  Teach on!