Britain’s Best Storytelling Show

National Storytelling Tour 2017

I want to tell you a story…

The Stratford Festival of Salon Arts
organises the
National Tour of Traditional Celtic Story-Tellers
running from
Mon. 30th Jan. until Good Friday 14th April 2017

Our Primary Schools National Storytelling Tour runs from Monday 30th January through to Easter.

Bards in the true sense, Celtic Yarn-Spinners entertain and enrich all ages with interactive stories, poems and songs.

Should your school be interested in having our Celtic Yarn-Spinner come to visit, please telephone me, Joy Atkins, on 020 8688 6951, or you may prefer to email:  for more information.

Dates of Interest

National Storytelling Week runs from Mon. 30th Jan. to Sat. 6th Feb. 2017.
World Book Day is on Thurs. 2nd March 2017.
World Storytelling Week starts on Mon. 20th March 2017.

Joy Atkins
Stratford Festival of Salon Arts 
Tigh a Bhaird
15 Warwick Road


CV37 6YW
Tel. 0208 688 6951

Talk – The Gobi Desert/Chinese Nuclear Test Area/Boko Haram


Wild Camel logo

I give talks and have spoken to over 120 schools in the United Kingdom both at primary and secondary levels. In the course of my expeditions into the Chinese former nuclear test area to establish a Nature Reserve to protect the critically endangered wild camel (a new and separate species of camel), I had numerous adventures. The area in the Gobi Desert is one of the remotest in the world and no foreigner had previously been there for 45 years.

I also worked in the area where Boko Haram have been operating and I give another talk on the historical background to Boko Haram. This is illustrated with photos unique to the area including the tribe from which the schoolgirls were abducted

Finally I crossed the Sahara on a camel which took me a hundred days from Lake Chad in Nigeria to Tripoli in Libya. Please see below synopses of five of my talks. I hope they may be of interest, as I should like to present one of them to your school. My fee is £220 plus travel.

I can send you testimonials from other schools if you wish.

Yours sincerely,  John Hare FRGS

Lecture 1: Three wild camel surveys in the Gobi desert undertaken in 1999, 2005 and 2011  illustrated with 60 colour slides/CD – 50 minutes

The first survey traversed some hitherto unexplored sand dunes near the northern Tibet escarpment that led John Hare into two undiscovered valleys and a fresh water spring that held pockets of wildlife that had no fear of man. In addition to observing 169 critically endangered wild camels, the expedition also observed the Tibetan ass, Argali wild sheep, wolves and bears at extraordinarily close quarters. On a return visit six years later, John Hare discovered that illegal miners had entered the area and in their search for gold had poisoned the spring and the vegetation with potassium cyanide and shot the wildlife. The third and most recent trek highlights what has happened since then The talk concludes with an illustration of the highly successful captive wild   camel breeding programme which the charity that John Hare founded, the Wild Camel Protection Foundation, initiated in Mongolia.

Lecture 2: The Mysteries of Lop Nur 50 colour slides/CD – 50 minutes

In 1905 the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin discovered intriguing mummified figures dating from 1500 BC near the ancient city of Lou Lan on the middle Silk Road. John Hare reached Lou Lan from the east in 1996, after a hazardous adventure and became the first person in recorded history to do so. He discovered an outpost of Lou Lan called Tu-Ying where cloth and felt dating from 1000 BC was preserved in remarkable condition. The weave of this cloth, similar to that used to wrap up the Hedin mummies, points to a similarity to the weave of ancient cloth found in Salzburg, Germany. It is possible that the mummified figures, with their striking Caucasian features might be Celts who came to western China during successive waves of migration. Slides show the city, the mummies and the cloth and John Hare speculates on what is for the Chinese, a highly political subject.

Lecture 3:  Across the Sahara. Travels on a camel from Lake Chad to Tripoli 50 colour slides/CD – 50 minutes.

In the winter months of 2001/2002, John Hare made a journey with camels from Lake Chad in Nigeria to Tripoli in Libya. A Chinese Professor and a Kenyan farmer accompanied him. The journey took three and a half months and covered 1462 miles. There were many adventures and discoveries en route, including rock art over 2500 years old that had not previously been discovered. The journey was made along an ancient camel route and it was the first time in 100 years that the journey had been made in its entirety. The lecture shows pictures of the Libyan desert that had been out-of-bounds to foreigners for over 50 years.

Lecture 4: The Historical Background to BOKO HARAM 35 black and white photos – 50 minutes

John Hare was the last man to be recruited in Northern Nigeria by the British Government before Nigerian independence and worked in this remote north-eastern area of Borno and Adamawa for almost seven years before and after independence. The area where he worked covered the village where the 220 girls were recently kidnapped by Boko Haram and he knows the Mandara mountain range and the villages and towns located in those hills intimately. He had access to historical records and witnessed the deteriorating relationships between the Muslims and these animists, many of whom had by this time been converted to Christianity by Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries. Hare explains from personal knowledge, how Boko Haram and the clash between Islam and Christianity in Northern Nigeria started and how it has developed into a bloody conflict in 2014.

Lecture 5: Tracks on the Desert’s Dusty Face – 60 colour photos – 50 minutes

An account of two releases into the Gobi Desert of young bull wild camels which were bred at the Wild Camel Protection Foundation’s Wild Camel Breeding Centre in Mongolia. Both were successful and involved 8 wild camels in total. There were, however, many incidents and difficulties involved in their release and the overall story is interlaced with adventure, a death, danger and humour. This is a record of the first time EVER that wild camels have been released into the Gobi – producing startling results.

‘no levels’ assessment

After a year, working with the new ‘no levels’ regime, are you developing your own assessment policy?

Most schools have spent the past year, trying to get to grips with the new Primary assessment system.

It hasn’t been easy and the numerous changes imposed by the Government haven’t helped.

Perhaps the biggest problem for schools has been grasping the idea that there are almost no rules. After years when the government prescribed in detail how schools must assess their pupils, it’s been quite a wrench to realise that how you assess is largely up to you.

For instance, you can import your own curriculum. If you want to use the National Curriculum Programme of Study statements, you can edit them, deleting some and re-wording others. You can give statements different weightings or set some as KPIs or non-negotiables.

With no levels to rely on, you can work out your own set of assessment grades, allowing less able pupils to show progress while letting the ablest shine.

You may want the flexibility to assess pupils at either Statement or Subject level; enter assessments at any time but set your own reporting dates.

You will most likely want to be able to filter results by groups such as boys/girls, pupil premium, SEN, first language, ethnicity or create your own groups and filter results by these.

Now that you realise how much flexibility you can have under the new regime, won’t you need a tracking system which is equally flexible and will fully support your assessment policy?

Our Online Primary Progress toolkit, we believe, can support almost any assessment policy.

We have designed it with one simple aim – to create a tracker which is easy to use but can be customised to a school’s precise needs.

So, if you aren´t 100% satisfied with your current tracker, why not check out our Online Primary Progress toolkit (

If you need more information, or would like to discuss your specific needs, email me at or ring me on 01279 652183.

We can also give you free access to a demo site where you can try out the toolkit for yourself.

Roger Watson

Statistics for Education, 5 Bridge Street, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, CM23 2JU
Tel: 01279 652183; Email: