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Posts Tagged ‘Students’

Well, we finally have a new Prime Minister, David Cameron. What will his new Coalition Government do on Education?   The last time I ‘blogged’ I asked the question: Should we be listening to what students have to tell us?   My answer was a resounding yes.

Have a look at the Education Guardian (11th May, 2010, p.5) for some advice from young people to Prime Minister Cameron.

Dear Prime Minister ….

I can’t say I want much from the government: smaller class sizes, equality of opportunity and a curriculum that doesn’t stifle my creativity.

If schools work collaboratively, rather than in competing with each other, they perform better.

We need more social harmony in Britain, and the best way to start is in education.

Letting parents take control of ‘failing’ schools is an ineffective idea.

If cuts have to be made, they shouldn’t be in education. Young people in this country are the future, and we need to keep up a world class education.

Three of the four schools who contributed to the Guardian are part of the project London Lives.  Through the project we’ve trained them to be researchers and on Friday May 7th they presented their research findings to a spell bound audience at the  Institute of Education  which included journalist and education campaigner, Fiona Millar and the Institute’s Director of Research, Michael Reiss.

The students involved in London Lives are from three London schools: Henry Compton Boys School in Fulham,  Kidbrooke Secondary School, Greenwich and Mulberry School for Girls, Tower Hamlets. They reported on their research on youth crime and how it effects their lives; social cohesion (how well do communities work together); bullying; young people’s priorities for school improvement. They raised challenging questions about how young are stereotyped, for example, as young Muslim women, or as young black men.

One of the things I’ve learned from this research, and other work I’ve done in our challenging urban areas is that not all  young people think that London, or Britain  belongs to them. But if we can create a ‘buy in’, a belief that their views and opinions really count, not only are they less likely to be drawn into anti-social behavior but they are also more likely  to believe that they can help shape the future.  

While we all hope that the next Government might help us muddle through the immediate economic crisis, our long-term future lies in the hands of the young people who wrote their messages to the Prime Minister. Are you listening David Cameron?

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Should we be listening to what students have to tell us?  Well, probably not, according to the NASUWT who recently compiled a dossier listing some 200 ‘disturbing’  incidents,   to justify their opposition to government  proposals to give students a  greater say in how they are taught.

I think they have got it wrong. A couple of years ago, I worked on a major London Challenge project on re-engaging disaffected students in learning. We listened to what the young people had to say and we changed the learning environment (made it  more active, more inclusive). We changed the ways in which they worked with each other (much more team work).  And  we changed the relationships between staff and students  ( much more trust and respect all round).  The outcome – happier staff, happier and much more productive students.

On May 7th students from three London schools will be speaking about issues that affect them and their education, at a research conference at the Institute  of Education. They are part of the London Lives project and have been trained to be researchers by staff at the Institute . They’ve been exploring such questions as: How does youth crime effect communities? How do  different communities integrate with each other and what does this mean for schools?

One day into a new government…. I’m sure they will have some important messages for our politicians!

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