Alison Critchley FRSA (and former Chief Executive of RSA Academies) has recently developed a new relationship to the Fellowship, forged in lockdown. She shares the experience and urges others to follow.
When I was Chief Executive of RSA Academies I was well used to drawing on the incredible breadth of knowledge and experience that resides within the RSA Fellowship. As well as encouraging Fellows to volunteer as governors of the RSA Academies, we also brought Fellows and their more glamorously titled cousins, the Royal Designers for Industry, into schools to work with pupils and staff on a wide range of creative projects.
Since moving on to ‘civilian life’ in local government in Portsmouth two years ago I have given little thought to the network of Fellows. I have used my RSA Fellowship mainly to give me access to an agreeable location for catch up with friends and former colleagues over an excellent hot chocolate and hope to do that again before too long.
The Covid-19 related interruptions that mean I cannot at present meet people for a drink in John Adam Street have given me the time, space and break from routine to pursue a different project. In the middle of the first lockdown, at home and spending more time trying to help my daughters with their studies, I came up with a game idea to practice times tables in an enjoyable way. "Mum's maths game" as it was originally known, proved surprisingly popular with my daughters, and so I created prototypes to test with friends and families, which were again enthusiastically received. To cut a very long story short, last week I had got myself to the point of having a professional version of what is now known as "Tables-Tastic" made up and a crowd-funding bid live on Kickstarter. I realised I needed some help.
It occurred to me that somewhere amongst my 30,000 fellow Fellows there were probably some people who could advise me. I spent a happy couple of hours looking through the RSA Fellowship database and quickly identified half a dozen Fellows with knowledge and experience of maths teaching and publishing, tutoring, and project development who I felt sure could provide me with wise counsel. I sent some tentative emails, not quite sure what, if anything, I would receive back
I have been overwhelmed with the most energising conversations and practical ideas. The conversations with RSA Fellows have helped me put together a great big to-do list, which will keep me busy not just for the remaining three weeks of the crowd-funding campaign but possibly for the next three to six months.
At this time when we are unable to get together physically there is something particularly powerful and moving about still being part of such a vibrant community, having meaningful conversations with complete strangers. Connected only through our shared Fellowship of the RSA we have been able to learn a little about each other's work and interests and come up with exciting ideas.
Hopefully it will not be too long before we can meet again in person in John Adam Street. In the meantime if you are feeling in need of inspiration and mutual support then take a look at the Fellowship register, find two or three people who sound interesting and drop them a line. RSA Fellowship really is our secret superpower.
Alison Critchley works for Portsmouth City Council providing support services to schools. She was previously Chief Executive of RSA Academies.