I loved working in various schools in Bradford – as long as there was a balance between time with children and their families, colleagues, as well as external individuals and organisations. These people – artists, dramatists, musicians, choreographers, film makers, animators and sports coaches – added true value to the school community, whether it was on or offsite. They helped raise aspirations, not just the children and their families, but teachers too.

The lead artist on the programme was Dave Hulston, whose mantra for ‘Roots & Routes’ was:

  • Who are you?
  • Where have you come from and where are you now?
  • Where do you want to go and how can you get there?

Sadly, when funding for Cape UK Creative Partnerships was axed, I lost my mojo. I was back to being a puppet of various education ministers, more interested in their own careers, government manifestos and their data-driven, narrow curriculum. Accountability meant that in some schools, curiosity and creativity was simply shunted to one side. Studying for the test works for some children, but it doesn’t work for all. Children simply cannot live on a staple diet of Mathematics, Reading, Writing and SPaG! Our bodies are designed to move – not sit, sit, sit.

Creating Something New

This was the cue for my jump out of the mainstream into the unknown. While teaching in Bradford, the local rugby league team, Bradford Bulls were in their ascendancy. Watching their coaches work with children during tag rugby sessions, I marvelled at the way girls and boys could play at the same level. A perfect level playing field. I asked myself:

  • What if the tags had colourful numbers and letters on?
  • Could they then be used for creative thinking challenges?

I decided to try out the ideas – I rediscovered the joys of play.

The playfulness resulted in Physically Active Learning (PAL) approaches with Tagtiv8. Successes were measured purely by smiles and anecdotal evidence:

  • “With PAL, you don’t get a chance to get bored – or zone out.”
  • “That was great – it takes a lot to get me to enjoy Maths.”
  • “I used to think I was rubbish at Maths, but now I know I’m not.”

Dr Andy Daly-Smith from Leeds Beckett University demonstrated impact with a gold-standard RCT, which went to NESTA, where Tagtiv8 received a 5 star rating. His initial research proves that PAL works as well as plays. Not only does it decrease sedentary time and increase activity levels, PAL also helps raise attainment. Following the success of this research, Andy and I shared our initial work via this TEDx Talk – with reference to my personal creativity guru, Sir Ken Robinson.

Aspire Power Arts

Thanks to the wonderful Dominic Traynor and Adobe Spark, Tagtiv8 had connected on ‘Playful Poetry’ with the equally wonderful Michael Rosen:

The invitation from Dr Emma Kell to explore and share further playfulness with poetry via Aspire Power Arts was too good to resist. It’s definitely an ongoing process – with a collaborative pilot involving:

The work in progress can be viewed on Google Drive here. Be warned, it will involve a few mazy runs.

With Tagtiv8, the difference between PLAY and PAL is small. It’s only one letter – Y.

Thinking of Simon Sinek, and his seminal book, ‘Start with Why’, we know our Why.

What’s yours?



According to a 10 year old child at a school in London, “Bryn is a genius.” However, his friends and family know the truth. Bryn worked in various UK schools for over 20 years as a teacher and school leader. In 2013, he founded Tagtiv8 Ltd. His pioneering approaches to Physically Active Learning (PAL) help schools take learning beyond the classroom walls – crucial when challenging the increasing problem of sedentary lifestyles.

Bryn is co-director of Move & Learn (CIC) – as well as advising the BBC and the Premier League on their education content.



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