Opinion Piece: The Millennial Issue

As I sat with a few friends the other day, playing video games and having a few drinks I couldn’t help but look around at the scene in my living room. Four 21ish year old males sat with laptops, Xbox, television, Bluetooth speakers, a phone each and the rest. Every single one of us was completely flooded with technology and we were playing video games with each other on two different platforms (laptop and Xbox) whilst being in the same room.

Now, I bet you’re thinking I’m going to come out with ‘we should have been outside in the warm weather rather than sat in a room surrounded by technology’ but actually that’s not true at all, and that is not ‘The Millenial Issue’ I think exists. As a matter of fact, the scenario described above took place after we had spent numerous hours in the evening in the fresh air at the driving range challenging each other to hit golf balls into baskets and having a jolly good time.


So, if not being outside enjoying the sun is not the issue with today’s 21 year olds, then what is? Well, the above scenario, I think, highlights something that has been sorely missed for our generation. We have been very fortunate to have lived and grown up in a time when technology has rapidly advanced. Take for example mobile phones. At the time of my 4th birthday, Nokia hadn’t even released their infamous 3310 model and yet just 17 years later I sit with my phone in my hand and the world at my fingertips. Now considering the first text message was sent in 1993, the rapid expansion of the last 25 or so years in this technology has been incredible. However, despite knowing how to use my phone as a navigation system, a games console, a bank, etcetera, there is one real issue. I don’t have a clue how any of it works, I just know how to work it.


This lack of understanding technologically for our generation, the generation who are just beginning to join the real world, is somewhat intriguing when we explore that we have known the next big thing is going to be linked to technological advances for the majority of our lives. Indeed, we are all very aware of Mark Zuckerberg – arguably the most successful man in the world – and how he succeeded in life and Bill Gates and James Dyson before him gave us clues. So if it was so apparent then why did we not focus on developing our skills with coding, or computer programming?


Indeed, during the evening I decided to raise this point relating to video games by remarking on how envious I was by the people who could create something as intuitive as a fully working computer game to which my friends agreed, and actually started the conversation that led to this article. We remarked that the rapid expansion of technology in our time has meant that education reform has not, until now, had the opportunity to catch up. If you explore the new National Curriculum, yes even the one for Primary School children, now includes Computer Science and Coding. This seems a far cry from my computer education which focused predominantly on the development of skills in Microsoft Powerpoint, and if I’m honest, prepared me quite terribly for creating anything other than a copied and pasted slide show full of timed animations and slide transitions.


Indeed, when we explore Bloom’s Taxonomy, it is clear that this ability to create an intuitive video game, rather than just knowing how to work it exemplifies the end of two knowledge spectrums. Remembering, understanding and applying, or knowing how to work things seemingly highlight that my generation have seemingly been undersold educationally. Therefore, the positive shift to improve education in England where our children begin to not only apply their knowledge but use it to create new products and conduct trial and error (evaluations) on these products, is wholeheartedly welcome for our youths.


However, what are we left to do? The millennial is seemingly, like those before us, stuck in a technological limbo where the majority have somewhat reached their peak with technology and will never create the next world changing invention because we are not equipped with the skills to do so. I suppose the only real consolation is that at least we have benefitted from having technology and have developed as people because of it. Still wouldn’t say no to a fraction of Zuckerberg’s wage though!

Textbooks, Teachers and don’t mention Taiwan…

Two weeks in China with Durham University.

With help from the Stephenson College Bursary fund I took part in a trip to Shenzhen in Southern China.

The most important thing I took from our trip was how many similarities there were between the two countries and their teachers. Often we look at countries in other parts of the world in a very detached way. What I found more than anything is how much I had in common with people on the other side of the world. Teenagers, surprisingly enough, were still teenagers in China. As much as we have an image of strict disciplinarian teachers and pupils marching around courtyards, at the end of the day children are children. They played together, joked around in the corridors and teased the teachers. They even did the teacher’s marking for them!


Pupils seemed to genuinely enjoy school, and took pride in their work. Textbooks were a big part of learning in China, and are something I think we should adopt here. When I think of how much paper I go through every day on my teaching practice it makes me wince: first there’s the exercise books, then the sheets we stick in the exercise books, then the sheets they use once to read from and then throw away, and not to forget the endless spelling lists and timetables sheets. In China they have a workbook. That’s it. One for each subject which has all the information they need in it. There was no fussing handing out sheets, sharing one between two then fighting over it, or collecting them back in and inevitably losing five or six. In this way the classrooms were much more organised despite the extra twenty or so pupils!


It’s difficult not to get lured into accepting a job while in China, the teachers are respected, well paid, well rested and not overworked. And I think we could all do with a two hour nap in the middle of the day! However, I did find myself getting bored. Only teaching two 45min lessons a day was find when we were visitors to the school (with sightseeing and jet lag to get on with!) but wouldn’t be my ideal every day. The days are long, and as the resources are already provided in the form of textbooks, there isn’t much to do in the way of planning. Furthermore, I think I’d get bored re-teaching the same lesson to eight different classes, as primary teachers we’re used to constant change and excitement!


We were warned before we left not to mention the three T’s: Taiwan, Tibet and Tianamon. While in China I did notice the one topic no one mentioned: politics. While in Britain it seems I can’t finish a sentence without mentioning Brexit or spending cuts, in China the political system is rarely, if ever discussed. However, I did not get the feeling that this was a massive problem. People seemed happy, Chinese businesses were thriving, and the city seemed to be very successful, so maybe we are the ones who are too preoccupied?

Collectivism was something I noticed that was very different to attitudes in Britain. Here we are told being different is good, often actively encouraged to be so. However, in the schools in China the sense was more ‘we are all in this together, let’s stay together.’ Deviating from the group, in terms of behaviour or work attitude, was frowned upon, and pupils did not applaud disrespectful behaviour, but would be happy to tell the individual themselves to stop it.

Overall it was a great experience, and I would definitely do it again. My eyes were opened to new classroom strategies, as well as a whole new outlook on education. What struck me most however, as I have said, is the similarities between children across the globe. Children are children wherever you go!

Stephenson College Bursary Supports Students Achieve First Aid Qualification!

What is this article about?

On Saturday the 15th of April 14 Stevo students completed a first aid at work course in central with St John’s ambulance. Throughout this article I will talk about the valuable skills that we learnt from completing the course and how it will now benefit us.

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What skills did we acquire from the course?

We all met outside central at 8:30a.m to help set up for a 9a.m start. Our trainer was called Vickey and before we began everyone introduced themselves. The first treatment that we learnt was different positions that a patient should be placed in should they be suffering from a heart attack, shock, or chest pains then practiced these moves with our partners.

Next, Vickey showed us what we should do if our patient is either conscious or unconscious showing us how to check which state the patient is in and how we should act appropriately. This included placing the patient into the recovery position and when we practiced this on our partners we discovered that getting someone into the recovery position is actually quite challenging.

We then had a short break for some refreshments and after 15 minutes Vickey showed us how to perform CPR on a patient. We learnt that the methods required for CPR are different for adults, children and babies which was very interesting, and we were all provided with the opportunity to practice on manikins.

After that, Vickey showed us how to treat a patient who was chocking depending on the seriousness of the choking demonstrating the protocol using a manikin. Finally, we learnt and practiced how to put a bandage on someone’s wrist should they think that they have injured it.

Why is a first aid course useful?

First aid training is highly recommended for the safety and prevention of illness or injury. Here are some of the benefits of being first aid trained:

  1. It can save lives

This is, of course, the most obvious reason for first aid. First aid training gives you the confidence and ability to react immediately to an incident, injury or illness. For example, in the USA, where first aid training is taught in schools a lot less people die due to heart attacks.

  1. It gives you confidence and clarity during an emergency

First aid training doesn’t just teach you how to treat patients in need of first aid, it also gives you confidence to effectively manage an emergency.

  1. It can reduce recovery time

Rapid reaction to illness or injury, before further aid such as an ambulance arrives can not only save lives, but also reduce recovery time of the patient.

  1. It can keep you safe

You will have those skills for life, especially if you maintain ongoing refresher courses. This means you can treat yourself, family and friends and the general public effectively in an emergency.

  1. It makes you more employable

This is something to add to your CV which employers might look for and can give you a little extra over other candidates.

  1. It’s a great team-building exercise

When completing the first aid course, it brings you and the other participants closer together through meeting new people and getting to know people better.

Finally, all students who took part in the course really enjoyed the experience and we would like to thank Stephenson College for supporting the experience.


Refreshers Week Times and Details!

Durham Pride – Sunday 27th May

12pm onward

Those from Stockton head to Durham for about 12, where you will meet Mae (our wonderful rainbow rep and incoming charities officer!) and she will show you how it’s done at Durham Pride!
24 Hour Charity Match – Starting Sunday 27th May @ 6pm

This begins at 6pm on Sunday 27th May and ends at 6pm on Monday 28th May!

Whether you’re playing or just supporting, this is the event to be at! 24 hours of non-stop sporting from Stevo and John Snow all to raise money for charity, how can you say no!

Lightwater Valley – Monday 28th May

Meet at central no later than 9am

The return taxi will leave Lightwater at 4pm

Those with tickets, Monday is the time to ride the longest rollercoaster in Europe with your fav Stevo pals!

Central Chill – Monday 28th May (Evening)

6pm til late!

After the 24 hour match, come and chill in central, the bar will be open and there will be some free pizza – aren’t you lucky x

Redcar Races – Tuesday 29th May (Day)

12:30pm departure from Central – 5:30pm return.

If you’ve bought a ticket, get yourselves to Redcar with us. This is one of the best ReFreshers events going and I am so personally excited to watch the races.

Those from Durham grab the X12 for free and get to central for 12:30pm (no later) and join those living in Stockton to get the coaches and enjoy our day at the races!

International Food Festival – Tuesday 29th May (Evening)

Get here from 8:00pm to experience the wonderful culture we have at Stevo!

This is set to be a big one!
Everything from parmos to Turkish “cuisine” will be making an appearance.

There will also be husts for unfilled exec positions which is super exciting, come and see your candidates as well as enjoying the night.

Varsity – Wednesday 30th May (Day)

See the event here!

College Colours @ KU – Wednesday 30th May (Evening)

Doors open at 11pm

Does this need any introduction? If yes is the answer to that question, let me elaborate. This is the final KU and the final college colours with Snow, so it’s gonna be massive!

Sun, Snacks and Supersoakers! – Thursday 31st May (Day)

12pm til 3pm

We will also be giving you some Supersoakers and we are gonna have a legendary waterfight outside of central, feel free to shoot Joe with your Supersoakers all you want and this sounds like it could be one of the most memorable days in ReFreshers! There’s also a BUFFET included. I literally am so excited even writing this and I honestly can’t wait to shoot some water guns after a great night at KU!

Stevo on Tour: Newcastle – Thursday 31st May (Evening)

Get to central from 8pm as coaches leave at 8:30pm

Our final Stevo on Tour from Queens and we are headed to Skint @ Illegitimate to celebrate a sick day of supersoakers! This is set to be mindblowing as it’s our first trip to Newcastle this year.

Durham Orientation day

10am – 1pm in Hilton Cottage

This is gonna be such a great opportunity for those moving to Durham next year (and also those who live there now but don’t know it that well!) to get to know the wonderful city you will soon be calling home.

Craig and Jeff have prepared a great day for us with all the info you need and this will be unmissable if you really want to get the most out of living in the city! 

Go Karting – Friday 1st June

1pm departure from Hilton Cottage

After your Durham orientation, yourselves to Hilton Cottage on Friday of ReFreshers week, and enjoy a free taxi ride – or walk if the weather is nice – to the Go Karting track near Durham.

Handover Dinner – Friday 1st June (Evening)

6:30pm drinks reception

The Handover Dinner is honestly an unmissable event in the Stevo Calendar. Come and watch the outgoing exec handover to the incoming exec, and see lots of speeches from Presidents past, present and future (guess who??). As well as this, so many awards are given out on this night, from Half and Full colours, to Outstanding Services to the JCR and even Honorary Life Membership of the JCR!

Stevo Day – Saturday 2nd June

Ticket collection and final on the door ticket sales from 12-2pm

Free hog roast (and veggie alternative) and doughnuts, as well as music, entertainment and inflatables! We also just announced that Showhawk Duo of Radio 1 fame are headlining Stevo Day as if it couldn’t get any better.


A teaching experience in China – A Stephenson College Bursary Funded Venture

On Sunday the 18th of March myself and 13 3rd year Primary Education students were fortunate to travel to Shenzhen in China to observe Maths teaching and to teach English in Chinese schools for two weeks. Throughout this post I will discuss what I discovered about Chinese teaching and how it differs from teaching in the UK, along with other experiences.

What did I discover about Chinese teaching?

I arrived in China and was unsure what to expect, before-hand I had been told that class sizes were around 50 children per class and I was unsure as to how it was even possible to teach 50 children at once. I thought that the schools would have a lack of facilities and that the children would learn only from text book rote learning, having very little opportunities to engage in active learning.

To my surprise it was actually pretty simple to teach 50 children at once. The children were all motivated to learn and were well-disciplined which meant that behaviour management was not an issue – the children quietly finished their work without causing any issues or arguments. All children also completed the same work meaning that differentiation was unnecessary making planning and preparing for lessons much easier.

Throughout the school day children engaged in: Chinese, English and Maths every morning and lessons such as Music, P.E, Geography, History and Art in the afternoon. The students completed homework every night for around 3hours teaching themselves the work that they would cover in class the next day meaning that before they arrived to each lesson they already had some understanding. The Chinese schools also had state of the art facilities with large sports fields/athletics tracks, dance halls, art studios, a children’s and a teachers library and each child had their own Ipad. However, I couldn’t say the same about the toilets… a hole in the ground.

How does Chinese teaching differ to teaching in the UK?

In the UK a typical school day begins around 9am and ends at 3:30pm, in China a school day begins at 7am and ends at around 6pm; however, from 12-2pm all children and teachers go home for an afternoon nap. In the UK children in primary schools are taught all subjects by one teacher resulting in a lot of cross-curricular links enabling children to learn about Math, English and Science altogether using recourses like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In China teachers only teach one year group and one subject for example, a grade one English teacher will only teach grade one English. Teachers in China only teach around 2 lessons per day providing them with more time to study their subject and to plan their lessons, although such cross curricular links are not possible. Whereas in the UK teachers teach all day teaching 5-6 lessons and are required to prepare for lessons and developing their understanding in their own time.

What was China like?

Before, I went to China I had a perception that it wouldn’t be as developed as the UK in relation to technology, facilities and resources… I was wrong. China is much more advanced than the UK, they use an App called WeChat for everything! WeChat is used to pay for items in shops and restaurants, to order food and to look at the menus in restaurants, to order taxis, to pay for public transport and to communicate with others. Therefore, using cash in China is more less no more.

As an English person I often take being English for granted when I’m aboard because “everyone can speak English.” But not in China. In China finding a person who could speak English was extremely rare. This resulted in us struggling to order a taxi or to say where we wanted to go and to order food in restaurants, but thanks to our amazing teachers in school we managed to travel easily around China. I can’t say the same for the food though, we often pointed to dishes on the menu but weren’t sure what we had actually ordered or what we were eating. The best was when I asked in the school canteen what was for lunch, they told me it was chicken … it was all of the chicken including its feet.

China was like being famous for two weeks. Almost everywhere we went we got our photograph taken, we even got given two babies to get our photograph taken with and got bought drinks and ice-cream.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who helped to organise the trip and who made it possible.


Article written by: Amber Smyth

Support the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust: Wear Pink and Blue on May 22nd


The 22nd of May 2018 will mark the one year anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack. On this night, 22 innocent lives were taken and many other people were injured. From that moment on, lives were changed forever and it is a night many of us will never forget.


Two of the lives lost that night were Chloe Rutherford (17) and Liam Curry (19), both from South Shields in North East England. They had attended the Ariana Grande concert together. The pair were inseparable and their future together was planned; they were to move in together, have a family, and be together forever. Chloe was a talented songwriter and performer, whilst Liam loved all sports, particularly cricket. At the time of the attack, he had just passed his cricketing coaching qualifications.

To honour Chloe and Liam’s lives and their passions, their families set up the ‘Together Forever Trust’ (https://www.facebook.com/ChloeAndLiamTogetherForever/). This trust aims to provide financial support to aspiring performers and young athletes in the North East in order to help them achieve their dreams. The trust has already enlisted backing from celebrities such as Newcastle and Sunderland managers Rafa Benitez and Chris Coleman, Stormzy, and many more. So far, over £20,000 has been raised!

To remember Chloe and Liam and all those who lost their lives that night, I ask you to join myself and the trust in wearing an item of Pink and/or Blue on May 22nd (https://www.facebook.com/events/2082004825414129/). This simple gesture will mean so much to the family and they have asked for people to post a photo of themselves in their blue or pink item and use #chloeandliam on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

For more information, or to donate to the trust, click on the following link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/chloeandliamtogetherforever.

Together we can show that there is no room for hate and that love will always win.

“The bees still buzz”

By Holly Simpson



Stockton to Shenzhen: Teaching on the Other Side of the World – a Stephenson College Bursary Funded Venture

For those of you who do Primary Ed, I’m sure that mastery and mathematics have become two words that go together like bread and butter or salt and vinegar. Don’t be fooled by this though, the Mastery approach to Maths is still quite a mystery to most people (both inside and outside of the educational bubble), so here is a quick rundown of how mastery is perceived in the UK:

  • The mastery approach originates in Asia and has been implemented into British classrooms by the Department for Education in an effort to raise the UK standing in International attainment leader boards.
  • It is an understanding that all children are capable of being successful mathematicians, if given enough time.
  • The implementation of a maths curriculum that emphasises a few, big ideas and utilises the links between different concepts.
  • The need to teach maths in greater depth, rather than accelerating through content.
  • The importance of developing a child’s ability to understand ‘why’ they are doing something and not just ‘how’.

These principals are shared and understood by most educators however my time working in different primary schools revealed that, actually, these rarely translated into teaching. In fact, what was more common is to see was a teacher put a word problem on the whiteboard at the end of a lesson as if this was enough to fulfil the mastery criteria. So why are you telling me this I hear you ask. Well, just before the Easter break, I was lucky enough, along with 13 other 3rd year Primary Ed students, to travel to Shenzhen and spend two weeks, teaching English and observing Mathematics in Chinese primary schools. Throughout the rest of this post, I will discuss what I actually discovered about teaching in China, along with other unexpected discoveries I made…mostly about food.

So, what was teaching actually like in China?

It’s fair to say that I arrived in China with a stereotyped view that Chinese children were going to be subjected to military-style discipline and would almost be robotic in their learning. For the most part this is entirely false. All the children that I had the opportunity to observe and teach were enthusiastic and loved being at school and made my time their unforgettable. Even though the language barrier was quite daunting, the children all made an effort to speak English where they could, even if my Chinese didn’t quite live up to their expectations (nĭ hăo and xièxie is about as impressive as it got…that means hello and thank you).

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I did say that it was only false for the most part and there were notable occasions, usually involving the whole school, where the children would partake in a military-style parade. In particular, this happened every Monday morning where the school would have a flag raising ceremony and then salute the Chinese flag. Although it was impressive to watch nearly 2000 children line-up and stand in a perfectly organised manner, there was also something quite eerie about it from my perspective which perhaps shows how British primary schools are quite detached from that type of regimented parading.

In terms of actual teaching. I definitely walked away feeling as though British classrooms have access to far better resources and are definitely set-out in a way that is more conducive to group work and shared learning. In Chinese classrooms, there would be around 40-50 children sat in rows. Their main resource would be a blackboard and this would have a screen in the middle showing a lesson PowerPoint. Apart from that, they only had a small range of hands-on resources for the children to use. To start with, it felt as though this would limit how the teacher could teach a certain idea, but actually, it does link to the mastery principal of offering children a smaller range of key ideas. The Chinese teachers were all fascinated by the British style of teaching and were enthused to see how we taught using group work and shared learning experiences, although this approach would be difficult to fully implement in China without rearranging the rows into groups.

What did I discover about teaching for mastery?

Well, after having numerous meetings with different Chinese teachers, it became quite clear that they were not aware of the mastery approach towards Mathematics. This is not to say that they did not teach for mastery, they just did not label it in the same way that we would in the UK. I think this is perhaps the most significant understanding that I took away from my experience in China. In the UK, we seem to have an educational system that moves from one big educational idea to the next and I suppose that really reflects our own political system. Either way, because we have these big ideas, like the mastery approach, and then move on, it prevents an educational culture from ever becoming really established. This is what stood out in Chinese education, that all of the children, parents and teachers strongly believed in their culture towards education. The teachers demonstrated a range of the mastery principals in their teaching but not because they were labelled with ‘mastery’, just because they believed that this was the right way to teach. This is something that ultimately will never be replicated in the UK, because our educational system prioritises short term attainment over long term educational success, and that’s clear to see on every school website that publishes their school Ofsted rating.

What else did I get out of the trip?
I don’t want to ramble on but I honestly could, it really was a two weeks packed with incredible experiences. To finish, this is what school dinners looked like. I’d love to tell you what each part of it actually was but nothing was labelled so yeah, it could have been anything. After a few days, we found the things that we thought were nice and stuck to those but one thing I could never get used to was how every piece of meat you had would be 90% either bone or gristle.

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The final thing to mention is a huge thank you to our Uni lecturers who organised the trip made it all possible. I know that everyone who went is grateful beyond words for all of your hard work!

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Article written by: Dan Jones