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1st Jan 2021

A conversation about schools.

“It’s a cup of tea moment.”

Project Details
  • Schools,
  • Young People,
  • Collectivity
Creative Team
  • Learner in Residence: Sarah Bailey
  • Producer: Kate Houlton
  • Collaborators: 10 teachers from across England including Andrea Atherton, Asma Chowdhry, Cath Brooks, Danielle Lewis-Egonu, Jasmine Votano, Jess Gilbert, Soneeta Reynolds, Tracey Bunce.
  • Design Support: Lynda Kendall

In 2021, ten teachers worked with us to imagine the future of schools. We drank tea, chatted, drew pictures and scribbled notes together. Through this process, Textbook lived first off the page, and then in print.

The questions we explored included:

What is a school?

Who makes schools work? How do those people work together?

What is the role of a child in a school?

What is the connection between schools and communities?

Participating teachers came from across the educational world.

They had experience across numerous settings, in teacher training and institutional management. Some of them have chosen to be credited on this page, and others have preferred to remain anonymous as they continue their navigation of the professional teaching world in 2022 and beyond. We continue to listen to their feedback as we shape our work in schools.

Textbook is a re-imagining of the traditional textbook that many of us would recognise

Reflecting on the process, Sarah Bailey - as Learner in Residence - has worked with the group to re-construct the idea of an educational text and workbook. Textbook weaves together everyday wisdom, social connection and expertise. It invites those that receive it to join the conversation, leaving their own learning behind in the form of notes and drawings. In red pen if possible.

Internal pages of Textbook, on a white page the words' Grab a Cup of Tea and and Red Pen.' are written in red.
Internal pages of textbook with black text printed on white pages. The pages have notes in red pen throughout.
Internal pages of textbook with black text printed on white pages. The pages have notes in red pen throughout.
Internal pages of textbook. A stick figure is drawn in red pen in the corner of a white page.

Learning is a social process

There are 100 copies of Textbook in circulation, which are designed to be passed from hand to hand. This approach aims to slow down discussion and allow us time to think and record what resonates as particularly important to each reader.

Listen: Textbook (audio described version)

You can also listen to an audio described recording of Textbook (below). This audio
description has been written by Kate Taylor-Davies for VocalEyes in collaboration with Sarah Bailey and Kate Houlton. Recorded and produced by Ben Dempsey-Sawin, featuring the voices of Andrea, Sarah and Soneeta.


Textbook: audio description timestamps

Listen along as you read - a list of helpful timestamps and page numbers.

Join the conversation

We have a small number of copies of Textbook available to loan out on a temporary basis as part of our Lending Library. Through 2022 - 2024 we will be delivering a number of discussions and events exploring Textbook.

If you would be interested in finding out more about this work, receiving a copy from our Lending Library or would like to discuss a future Textbook event please email

Share your contributions to the work with us via the email above or using the hashtag: #TextbookConversation.

A New Direction: Cultural Masterclass

On 25th June, we've been invited by A New Direction to contribute to an online discussion, with our long-term collaborators Sarah Bailey and Danielle Lewis-Egonu, and share some of our learnings from the Textbook project. Find out more and book a free place.

Textbook was printed by environmentally friendly, community owned printers MARC the Printers in Salford, who also printed Kate Hodgson’s PARRTY Zine and The Book of St Helens.

About the Learner in Residence

Sarah Bailey