It has been an extraordinary start to term at NAS Dubai as we have been joined by Lord David Puttnam, Chairman of Nord Anglia's Education Advisory Board.
Over a three day visit our students, parents and staff had the pleasure to meet and engage with the inspiring Lord David Puttnam, Chairman of Nord Anglia Education’s Advisory Board, Academy Award winning film producer and Unicef Ambassador.
Lord Puttnam shared his passion for film and character identity building with our Years 6, 7 and 8 students. The iGCSE Drama students from Year 9 and 10 had the opportunity to perform and receive expert feedback on their exam monologues. With our Year 11 and IB students Lord Puttnam led a fascinating and thought-provoking workshop on future career opportunities and the responsibilities this generation faces.
Of course, it was not only our students that had the pleasure to engage with the brilliant Lord Puttnam. Our staff enjoyed a presentation on the ‘Future of a Nord Anglia Education’ while the NAS Dubai Parent Advisory Board had the pleasure of Lord Puttnam’s company at an intimate breakfast meeting where the group discussed the differences between educational systems across the world and Unicef’s Sustainable Development Goals. The main event brought together parents, industry leaders and the press for "An Evening with Lord David Puttnam’ on ’Education, Film, Passion and Projection’.
Interwoven throughout Lord Puttnam’s talks are the recurring themes:
• That we share individual responsibility to understand and work towards meeting the seventeen sustainable development goals described by the UN;
• That resilience is core to success and that creative development requires collaboration, tenacity, imagination and focus;
• That climate change and migration are increasingly presenting the critical conditions which will continue to have increasing effect on everyone who walks the planet;
• That the exciting and disturbing implications of social media, artificial intelligences and augmented realities abound;
• That the essential value of the fixed and moving image, music, storytelling and the arts endures at a time when we are challenged to find truth in the complexity of our digital information feeds.
It was a great honor to hear a lecture from one of the most renowned film producers - Lord David Puttnam. I would like to first introduce him. He has been in the film industry for over 30 years where he has produced many award-winning films, such as “Chariots of Fire” and “Bugsy Malone”. And over the years he has also received many honours, such as a CBE, was appointed to the House of Lords, was the President of UNICEF UK and he has been the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees from Universities in the UK and overseas. And, we have had the honour of Lord Puttnam being the Chair of the Education Advisory Board for Nord Anglia Education.
Lord Puttnam presented his talk - “The Wonder of Film” - to years 6,7 and 8. He walked us through his life and his inspirations.
He started his talk on how he was a child living in Southgate, London, England and his original dream was of going to Wimbledon as a professional tennis player. He never achieved this dream because he instead was hired by an advertising company where he was introduced to the film industry. His first films weren't hits but his film “Chariots of Fire” would be his most successful. It won the Oscar for Best Picture and this would prove to pave his road to success in the film world.
Lord Puttnam was inspired by his childhood interest in comic books, especially the comic book of Alf Tupper, who was a great working class runner. He was also inspired by the great athletes in the Olympics. These lifelong fascinations from his childhood would lead him to produce the great movie “Chariots of Fire”.
He also gave us insights into the filmmaking process. He made a point that tiny things can give depth and personality to a movie, such as a character's eye-contact. He stated that it was the small things that matter and ultimately deliver the big picture. The story development was another aspect in filmmaking with two highlights. Firstly, how any producer should always deliver a true and good message while still being entertaining. Secondly, how every movie would be nothing unless there was an dilemma. A dilemma would lead to a situation. That is what a movie is about.
But his most impactful point was when he inspired each one of us in the audience to be the leaders that would change our world for the better and if we don't change our world, it will be lost. We will be lost. And the way to bring about this change was to use technology and to understand our culture, society and the world around us. If we can achieve that, we will be unstoppable.
‘Do what you love and get paid for it – this way you’ll never actually have to work a day in your life.’ This was the first piece of advice Lord Puttnam delivered to us in his motivational presentation to Year 11. He used his own life story, from when he was only a child up until he became an educator, to talk about achieving one’s dreams and changing the world.
Lord Puttnam shared with us the ‘Why not me?’ mentality we should have at this point in our life. Reiterating the mantra that every single one of us is perfectly capable of achieving what we dream of, Lord Puttnam was an inspiration. During this critical stage of our lives, with our upcoming GCSEs, we should be courageous and not afraid to fail. Expanding on his earlier points, Lord Puttnam stated that we should always have a student and not master attitude; accepting criticism and learning from it are just a few qualities needed by everyone to grow and develop as a person. Cherishing successes but, more importantly, keeping in mind one’s weaknesses and how to improve on them is what Lord Puttnam helped us to understand, at a poignant time as we approach our mock exams and a period of reflection.
One lesson we took out from the meeting was the change we, as students of Nord Anglia, should be driving. Global change doesn’t happen by itself, but by the effort of leaders that will surely one day emerge from our school. Global change isn’t instantaneous, it takes a lot of time and people to happen. Brick by brick, everyone can create change. To achieve this, we need to be more creative and less cautious; taking risks is something we all can, and should, do to succeed in life.
Lord Puttnam believes that ‘You can go anywhere when you know when to change.’ The ability to distinguish between one’s strengths and weaknesses and admitting to them is a vital skill for young people like us when deciding on plans for our future. In the end, the most important person to amaze is oneself.
The talk by Lord Puttnam was a life-changing experience. His attitude and opinions about education and growing up in general were inspiring. I believe we have learnt a lot from him and what he shared. The most important things being is to always stay resilient; to be able to always push oneself despite struggle, learning from these adversities and not be afraid to be judged.
Everyone at NAS can, and I believe will, be extraordinary.
Lord David Puttnam is a renowned figure in a number of industries, so his visit was greatly anticipated and honestly, he had to meet some pretty high expectations from the sixth form. And in all fairness, he did just that and so much more; Mr. Puttnam discussed his activism within the climate change crisis amongst other fascinating focuses of his life such as UNICIEF and his interest in the world of education, which was followed by him diligently answering the questions posed by the sixth form in regard to these talking points. Such questions were quite complex and interesting, for example what the best course of action is when our generation is faced with opposition more powerful than ourselves in regard to solving climate change. Nevertheless, Mr. Puttnam took them in his stride and provided invaluable answers, which were at times hard pills to swallow but that’s exactly the type of information we crave and desperately seek for as the next world leaders.
In order to best tackle our global issues, we need to be given the best start possible, meaning arming the next generation with as much information and advice as physically possible. Issues such as climate change have terrifying prospects however, as the generation that will have to deal such issues, we require honest, knowledgeable experts like Lord Puttnam to give it to us straight. Lord Puttnam’s “tough love” approach was greatly appreciated by the sixth form and he provided a breath of fresh air in his delivery.
Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t just discuss doomsday, we also had intellectually stimulating conversations in relation to global inequity and artificial intelligence. Being the socially-aware group, we are, it was incredibly rewarding to be given an opportunity to discuss pressing global problems that we all care so deeply about with an expert, who didn’t talk down to us, rather treated us like peers. This approach of equality in discussions of great global significance is representative of how in order to solve these problems, it is essential to collaborate with others.
Humorous and wise, Lord Puttnam created a sense of empowerment and motivation that left the sixth form buzzing for the rest of the day. We left the workshop truly believing that we could change the world, to in turn provide a better world for those that come after us.
It’s not easy to instill such hopefulness in a group of fatigued, stressed out teenagers at nine o’clock in the morning, in fact it’s nothing short of a miracle. So, I guess that Lord Puttnam can add “miracle-worker” to his already impressive credentials.