Meet the two Mr Ps...

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:
Mr Ps: Adam (left) and Lee (right) are the two brothers behind the popular Two Mr Ps in a Pod(Cast)

The Two Mr Ps in a Pod(Cast) is one of the most popular educational podcasts. Emma Lee-Potter meets the two brothers behind the show and shares some of their anecdotes about primary school life

From the unexpected objects that children bring to show and tell sessions to the trials and tribulations of putting up classroom displays, Lee Parkinson and his younger brother Adam enjoy swapping stories about the world of primary education.

The pair work in Manchester primary schools. Lee, who is known as Mr P, teaches three days a week at Davyhulme Primary School, where he provides PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) cover for year 2 and year 4 classes and is in charge of the school’s digital literacy.

For the rest of the week he works as an educational consultant, running CPD courses across the country and beyond on using technology to raise teaching standards across the curriculum. Adam, known as The Other Mr P, is a full-time higher level teaching assistant at a primary school in Salford, mainly focusing on upper key stage 2 pupils.

In 2018, during a family holiday in Florida to celebrate their father’s retirement, the brothers came up with the idea of recording their anecdotes and reminiscences about primary school life and turning them into a podcast.

They launched Two Mr Ps in a Pod(Cast) on their return and it was an instant success, amassing more than three million listens and attracting high-profile guests like Adam Kay, Clare Balding and Konnie Huq. They get together every two weeks to make the podcast and have produced more than 90 episodes so far.

As well as doing their day jobs and recording their podcast they have just written their first book, Put A Wet Paper Towel On It: The weird and wonderful world of primary schools. The title of the book, inspired by their belief that wet paper towels can solve most problems in the classroom, from grazed knees to headaches, always resonates with primary school teachers.

They have also launched a nationwide live tour based on the podcast. The 90-minute, loosely scripted shows take place at weekends and during the school holidays.

“The main intention of the podcast is to have a conversation about the funny ups and downs of what makes our job one of the best jobs in the world,” said Lee. “We hope that people relate to it and find it a welcome distraction. I think it helped many teachers during lockdown, when we were all separated, all working in bubbles and we weren’t able to have the usual staffroom chat.

“Our listeners went through the roof during the pandemic. It became this community that teachers could feel a part of, where they could come together and have a laugh. Teachers are incredibly hard-working but at the same time we are human and we do have a sense of humour. Being able to speak on behalf of the profession is amazing and we’re incredibly grateful for everyone’s support.”

Every episode of the podcast features snapshots of primary school life, including classroom crazes, school trips and what really happens in the staffroom. But along the way the brothers take time to explore the pressures of modern-day teaching. For instance, Lee is particularly concerned about teachers’ workload and wellbeing, which he thinks are directly linked.

“Everyone wants to help teachers strike a better work/life balance but it links directly with workload,” he said. “If you can reduce workload you’re going to improve teachers’ wellbeing. I sometimes think it’s patronising if you’re forcing teachers to sit through wellbeing staff meetings when teachers know they’ve got four sets of books to mark afterwards.”

He believes that rather than organising activities like yoga sessions, group meditation, ice cream deliveries or staff meetings about wellbeing, the most effective way to improve teachers’ wellbeing is to give them more time.

As he writes in the book: “My response is always the same: cancel the staff meeting. Giving the teachers time out is better than any activity or staff meeting.”

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Another bug-bear is what Lee describes as “the obsession with accountability” in today’s education system.

“Teachers have been unbelievable through the pandemic,” he said. “They have stepped up to every single challenge and shown how hard-working and dedicated they are. I hope that coming out the other side we can repay teachers by just trusting them to do the job they are capable of doing.”

For his part, Adam is keen to highlight the crucial role played by teaching assistants and support staff.

“Teaching assistants and support staff can be the forgotten people in a school,” he said. “The only people who recognise and appreciate teaching assistants and support staff are the staff in the school, the parents and the children. Your average person in the street probably thinks that teaching assistants are like glorified coffee-makers – but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Teachers did a fantastic job through the pandemic. They hit it out of the park every time but a huge amount of responsibility fell on teaching assistants who had the children of key workers and vulnerable children in class while a lot of the time the teachers were doing all the online stuff. I feel very fortunate to shine a light on the absolutely amazing teaching assistants who deserve all the credit in the world.”

Lee, who is one of the most widely followed UK teachers on social media, is passionate about encouraging teachers to use technology confidently.

In the book he cites a project inspired by the film Blackfish, which tells the story of Tilikum, “a whale kept in captivity who had killed a SeaWorld trainer”. He immediately saw how engaged the children in his class were by the story and got them to turn their writing on the topic into a video, which the school then shared on its social media platforms.

Within 24 hours the video had garnered thousands of views. Not only that, the school received a message from Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of Blackfish, who offered to Skype with the children.

“It was an amazing learning opportunity where the children could connect with and speak to someone who lived on the other side of the planet and had experienced everything first-hand,” said Lee. “It’s never been easier to connect your classroom with the world and share the learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.”

The project was so successful that the school received letters from marine biologists in Australia and messages from the Born Free Foundation. PETA, the charity dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals, awarded Lee its Compassionate Teacher Award and when SeaWorld announced they were no longer going to keep killer whales in captivity a child who had been in his class returned to the school to say: “We’ve done it.”

Lee often tells the story on training sessions and it has inspired other teachers to launch similar projects.

Both he and his brother clearly love their jobs and despite their success with the podcast, the sold-out live shows and the book (which soared to number two in the bestseller lists when it was published), they are firmly committed to their work in the classroom and making a positive difference to pupils’ lives.

Although he has a successful career as a trainer Lee still sees himself as a teacher “first and foremost”.

“I just want to share good practice of things that have worked for me,” he said. “I know what it’s like with a lot of INSET days because I’ve been there myself as a teacher. You get someone who’s not been in a classroom for I don’t know how long telling you what you should do. For me it’s important to have that integrity of being in class, knowing the struggles that teachers go through and being relatable.

“There are aspects of the job I’d quite happily not do again but the core essence of teaching – being able to support and teach children, see them develop and play a pivotal role in making them reach their potential – is such a gift. It’s one of the few jobs you can do where you know you are making a huge difference in a really good way.”

Adam nods in agreement. “I genuinely adore trying to instil as much knowledge as possible,” he said. “I really struggled when I was at primary school so I like to think that I can take my mind back to what it was like for me – what worked and what helped – and try and inspire the children as best I can.”

  • Emma Lee-Potter is a freelance education writer who writes regular school case study articles for Headteacher Update. Read her previous articles via

Further information & resources

  • Put a Wet Paper Towel on it: The weird and wonderful world of primary schools by Lee Parkinson and Adam Parkinson (HarperCollins, £16.99)
  • You can follow Lee on Twitter @ICT_MrP and for more details about the Two Mr Ps in a Pod(Cast) and live shows, go to:

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