Liz Robinson, a co-director at Big Education, blogs on the role schools can play in partnership with others to support families beyond the school gates. Her comments are in response to the RSA’s report Schools Without Walls, published last week, which profiles examples from around the globe, including the efforts of a headteacher at a school in New York City that serves a community with 99 per cent free school meals. “It is a heroic school with an inspiring leader – but highlights the need for a systemic approach to making a difference with the families that really need it most,” Robinson says. She shares tips and ideas for engagement with the wider community, drawing on the experiences from Surrey Square primary school in southeast London, now part of the Big Education Trust.
Headteacher Seb Chapleau recently blogged about climate activist Greta Thunberg’s role as a symbol of hope and an inspiration to young people worldwide. In his latest rousing contribution, he engages with Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and the notion that “one should never do for others what they can do for themselves”. Students, Chapleau says, should be taught that, like Thunberg, “they too can act. They too can be wise and strategic. They too can bring about change.”
Focusing on what we can do can teach us responsibility and how to turn “big problems into smaller, ‘winnable’ issues”. “There is nothing more powerful,” he says, “than leading by example so, rather that demanding things of others – in this instance an almost unreachable ‘government’ – let’s look at what goes on in our patch: our schools, our homes, our own community.” Chapleau outlines his school’s Climate Charter. “The key thing about our charter is that it focuses on us. It makes us the agents of our own change.”
Angie Browne’s blog focuses on the “nourished school”. She highlights “a state of overwhelm” in our schools, which she argues has led to the workplace becoming an emotionally “unsafe” environment. Browne invites us to imagine a different way of being, where integrity, wisdom, nourishment and wellbeing take precedence over the “standards agenda”.
Karen Wespieser, the director of operations at the Driver Youth Trust, reviews the Timpson review of school exclusions, published last week. She welcomes that many of DYT’s recommendations made during the call for evidence were taken on board, but laments the report’s failure to make a link between literacy and exclusions. “Whilst speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are rightly covered . . . more general literacy needs are not. There is a significant risk that without being able to read, you face barriers to accessing the curriculum. The result can often be poor behaviour and truancy. Research has linked reading difficulties to externalising behaviours, such as classroom discipline problems, bullying, and aggression.”
For those interested in learning more about Islam and the daily routines during Ramadan, check out Yusuf Ibrahim’s enlightening blogs on his fasting journey. “Food brings people together and the iftar (breaking of fast) brings people together who have been fasting. The shared preparation of food, waiting for the exact moment of sunset and the sharing of the meal is incredibly powerful and rewarding”. The poetic descriptions, the personal narrative about his family, the photos of the food and anecdotes about previous fasts are beautiful.