Episode #112: Spread the Kindness Ripple through Books with Rich Simpson

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

             
Rich Simpson is a Year 6 teacher, Literacy Lead, from the Isle of Wight in the UK. He blogs about books and kindness and started the hashtag #kindnessripple on Twitter. After talking with Rich about his growing up in Northern Ireland and learning a little about his story, I was excited to learn more. Enjoy!

Growing up
Growing up in Northern Ireland I was part of a single-parent family, living with my younger brother and sister, and mum. My dad left when we were young (I was 6 or 7) and we rarely saw him again after that – I had no relationship with him at all. I saw him once again when I was 13 and we went to visit him in Hong Kong. he died a couple of years later. I have since discovered that I have a half-brother called Fred from his next relationship, and we have connected – I met him for the first two years ago when he came to visit and we are in contact – he lives in the U.S.!
We were a foster family, so we had a large number of children living with us as I grew up in placements of varying lengths, and I always wanted to do something related to working with children as a job (though after I had fulfilled my ambition of being in the army as all my relatives had done!).
What it was like as a student
Life was tricky – possibly due to the unrest at home I was not a happy child and didn’t enjoy early school – I was excluded from pre-school and only allowed into primary if medicated (I started school on Valium!). A teacher called Mrs. Riddle spoke to my mum and persuaded her to let me try books as an alternative, and it changed everything…
I still didn’t have a great school life – I changed school at 8 due to issues around anxiety and the school I was attending, and this continued all through right until I left high school at 18 for university – I had few friends and was subjected to horrific bullying as an ‘outsider’ at a large all-boys secondary school.
Moving to the UK
I left Northern Ireland to go to university in 1997 and have never gone back, staying in the UK and teaching since then (apart from a year spent traveling and working elsewhere in 2006 after my attempts to join the army went wrong!). I now live with my beautiful wife and two children on the Isle of Wight, working in a small primary school as a Y6 teacher, and senior leader.
Outside of school, I blog about education and books on my website www.whatiread.co.uk and start the #kindnessripple hashtag on Twitter each Thursday, which I founded in lockdown this year after writing a blog about kindness in the classroom for Twinkl (an educational resource website)

What it was like for you as a student 
Life was tricky – possibly due to the unrest at home. I was not a happy child and didn’t enjoy early school – I was excluded from pre-school and only allowed into primary if medicated (I started school on Valium!). A teacher called Mrs. Riddle spoke to my mum and persuaded her to let me try books as an alternative, and it changed everything.
I still didn’t have a great school life – I changed school at 8 due to issues a…

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