Students join staff, parents and guest speakers to deliver powerful TEDx talks

6th March 2019

The King Alfred School (KAS) in Hampstead recently hosted a day-long TEDx event on the topic of ‘Transformations’ featuring inspirational short talks by students, staff, parents and guests.

KAS was founded over 120 years ago with a commitment to the research and development of teaching practices and sharing them with the wider education community.

Taking over the school’s Phoenix Theatre for the day, the 21 speakers took to the stage, many for the first time, to tell personal stories, make passionate pleas and bring lesser known viewpoints to life in 10 minutes or less.

One of the stand-out talks saw Sixth Form student Tara talk about how the King Alfred School culture of using teacher’s first names, has positively transformed her experience of education.

With students making up a third of the speakers, the event highlights the success of The King Alfred School philosophy. By providing an environment, and support, which allows pupils to develop their own strengths, looking at what is right for each individual child and allowing them to take ownership of their own learning, we nurture creative, curious and engaged students who are confident enough to talk about tough subjects. Speaking about anxiety, autism, storytelling, the true value of gap year volunteering and cryptocurrencies, the students shone brightly.

Parent Ian Hadden, a PhD student at the University of Sussex, researching why some students don’t do well at school, shared his findings on a surprisingly simple activity which can boost the achievement of disadvantaged students, and help to better prepare them for happy and productive lives.

Other speakers included a parent who spends part of the year living on a remote Hebridean island with no cars, doctor or school, a psychologist who lost her husband to suicide talking about resilience, a games designer on the positive power of screen time and a spoken word poem on the transformative power of pain.

KASS and The King Alfred School are passionate about creating new opportunities like this one. Head Robert Lobatto said:

“At The King Alfred School we have such talented students, staff and parents, so it was amazing to get them to share their wisdom and insight with each other and with us. TEDxKingAlfredSchool was a wonderful day and it was incredible to hear so many talks which demonstrated the value of our educational philosophy. Every speaker had to search deep inside themselves to prepare – it is no easy feat to lay yourself bare before an audience – even the warm, loving and receptive audience we had. I take my hat off to each and every one of them.”


Speakers, subjects and links to talks:

Full playlist can be found here:

Emma Sevitt (teacher): Ordinary heroes

Emma is a History teacher and Head of Years 10/11 at KAS. Her talk looks at how the classroom can be a place of transformation, and how learning the lessons of the American Civil Rights movement can help to nurture a new generation of active citizens.

Georgina: Storytelling – The human superpower

Georgina is a sixth former who loves English and History. Ever since she was little she has loved books. Inspired by the power of imagination she is never happier than when reading or writing her own stories.

Phil Stuart: Games with purpose

Phil is the founder of the BAFTA-winning game studio PRELOADED, passionate about using the power of play to solve real world problems and change people’s lives. His talk will make you look at screen time through a more positive lens.

Ian Hadden: Opening closed doors

Ian is a PhD student researching why some students just don’t do well at school. In his talk he will share his research into a surprisingly powerful tool that can help turn things around for many children and help them prepare for a happy and productive life.

Tara: Call me by my name

Tara is a KAS sixth former, psychology enthusiast and is always looking for ways to lead a healthier, happier life. She will talk about how the KAS culture of using first names has helped her find her identity.

Claire Murphy (teacher): Life beyond a diagnosis

KAS PE teacher and Head of Years 8/9, Claire is a breast cancer survivor who found it hard to move on after finishing her cancer treatment and move away from the disease which had defined her for so long – hard but not impossible.

Dr Marc Kahn: Ordinary people – Extraordinary performance

A Chartered Business Coach and clinical psychologist, Marc will explain how extraordinary environments make ordinary people perform in extraordinary ways, and, why the methods we use to approach talent and leadership development are flawed.

Roc Sandford: Living off-grid on a remote island

Roc is a farmer, writer and environmentalist who, a quarter of a century ago, bought the deserted Hebridean Island of Gometra. He talks about life off-grid with no cars, no ferry, no doctor and no school.

Henry: Too anxious for a TEDx talk?

Henry has just started in the sixth form at KAS and his hobbies include cricket, football, drumming and making music. His talk focuses on the benefits of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and his personal journey away from anxiety.

Jo Lucas: Superheroes and sidekicks

After qualifying as a structural engineer, Jo shifted her focus from engineering structures to networks of people tasked with delivering mega-projects. She describes herself as a catalyst for change and innovation within the infrastructure industry.

Charlotte-Lily: Gap year volunteering – Who gains more?

Charlotte is studying A level Geography, Drama, French and Spanish at KAS and took part in last year’s school trip to Namibia which included working in a local school. She valued the experience, but wants us to question who the real winners are in this transaction.

Robert Messik (teacher): Carnival cravings – Our human right to break from the norm

Rob is a writer, manager of The Phoenix Theatre, KAS Drama teacher and soon to be Doctor. He explores how we are in danger of denigrating the crucial period of time that is carnival and what that might mean for human existence.

Dr Mike Solomon and Dr Fiona Starr: Sh*t happens. What next? 8 Lessons in resilience

Dr Mike Solomon and Dr Fiona Starr are Consultant Clinical Psychologists. Mike designs and delivers training for educational professionals around child and adolescent mental health, resilience and leadership. Fiona teaches and researches mental health and clinical practice.  Fiona and Mike will talk about some lessons they have learnt about being resilient, coping and thriving when times are tough.

Alfie: A painfully blunt talk on the spectrum

Alfie, a new student at KAS, is a performer, writer and composer who happens to deal with the social and academic implications of Aspergers syndrome on a day to day basis.  Looking at other’s reactions to his condition he has some ideas of how to change things.

Adam Walzer: Successful sleeping – The nightly transformation

Adam is Director and co-Founder of RESTED Sleep Engineering, an industry specialist in the theory and philosophy of sleep performance as a key determinant of health and wellbeing.

Zah Rasul: Never not broken – The transformative power of pain

Zah is Head of Operations for the Estates Department of KAS and also teaches creative writing workshops in East London. His spoken word poem looks at the lessons we can learn from pain.

Leo and Nicolas: The future of money

Leo and Nicolas are both sixth formers at KAS. Leo is studying Maths and Physics and looking forward to a degree in Computer Science. Choosing to talk about crypto currencies was prompted by people’s misunderstandings of how virtual currencies work. Nicolas studies Psychology and Economics at A level and Bitcoin initially captured his attention as he saw it as potentially having a huge impact on our future and our transactions.

Cynthia Rousso: Mind the gap – Creating a space between feeling and action

Cynthia is a psychotherapist known for her work with young people, parents and professionals. She explores the pitfalls of overparenting and simple things parents can do to help children cope with life’s challenges.