In conversation with Eugenia Cheng

We were delighted to welcome Dr Eugenia Cheng, the author of Beyond Infinity and How to bake pi to Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) last week to talk about her passion for maths and her mission to rid the world of ‘maths phobia’. As well as having written these two very accessible books about maths, Eugenia is a senior lecturer in pure maths at Sheffield University and has worked at the universities of Cambridge, Chicago and Nice. Her brilliant YouTube lectures and videos have been viewed over a million times and she is also a concert pianist and an accomplished cook.

The idea of infinity is one of those mind-boggling paradoxes which fascinate people of all ages; a concept which seems to be beyond Maths and beyond comprehension. Eugenia spoke about how we can use the idea of infinity, which is by definition unquantifiable, to help us solve more concrete problems and how, for instance, it was useful in the development of calculus.

Eugenia also spoke about why there are still too few women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields and how the culture of these disciplines needs to change in order to attract a broader range of people.

Could Eugenia’s infectious enthusiasm and promotion of Maths as both a logical and creative activity help us address the national challenge of supporting those many students who haven’t yet achieved a GCSE grade C by the age of 16 and are struggling with their GCSE Maths retake?

Eugenia herself was not convinced that we should put so much store by this rather arbitrary measure and advocated deeper learning rather than rushed test-preparation. Our audience of students, teachers and parents were certainly persuaded by her account of turning around the perceptions of her Arts students, including many who had initially worn their ‘maths phobia’ as a badge of pride. She described how people can learn to approach maths problems in a range of different ways and overcome their fear of being absolutely wrong and that is when the barriers to understanding start to come down.

We asked those who attended to describe ‘what I like most about maths’ and the range of answers reveals many positive reasons for enjoying the subject:

It makes sense!

It’s a universal language understood by everyone.

Maths is the language of Science, Music, Computing, Engineering …

I couldn’t be a Physicist without it!

Mechanics is my favourite. What I like about it is that we are able to figure out unknown quantities without explicitly measuring them.

The complexity – where everything has its particular place in a complex whole.

The simplicity – finding explanations for complex phenomena.

The indisputable objective beauty in its structure – everything is connected.

It opens up a world of the imagination where any problem can be understood and solved.

The fact that there isn’t only one way to solve a problem and there are different methods to suit everyone.

Getting the answer right!

Solving problems.

Getting stuck!

…and finding a way out.

All of it!

Eugenia’s own description of why she loves maths:

It’s not just about getting to a destination…it’s about the fun, the mental exertion, communing with mathematical nature and seeing the mathematical sights.

This is a long way from the drudgery of being repeatedly asked to solve uninteresting problems, in fact it’s:

…mind-boggling, breathtaking and sometimes unbelievable.

Beyond Infinity is highly recommended for everyone who already loves maths as well as for everyone who doesn’t yet know they love maths.


Posted in Education, NewVIc, Science, Students | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A global crisis requires a global politics

A few days ago, on 10 March, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs reported to the UN Security Council on the largest humanitarian crisis facing humanity since 1945. Many global challenges vie for our attention, but this one is of such enormity and urgency that it should surely be the headline on every news bulletin and at the top of every media agenda day after day. The question ‘what are we doing about it?’ should surely be the first thing we ask all our leaders at every opportunity…and keep asking until we are confident that everything is being done that can be done.

Reporting on countries facing famine or at risk of famine: Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Northern Kenya and North Eastern Nigeria, the Under-Secretary General said:

“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations. Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease. Children stunted and out of school. Livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost. Communities’ resilience rapidly wilting away. Development gains reversed. Many will be displaced and will continue to move in search for survival, creating ever more instability across entire regions. The warning call and appeal for action by the Secretary-General can thus not be understated. It was right to take the risk and sound the alarm early, not wait for the pictures of emaciated dying children or the world’s TV screens to mobilise a reaction and the funds.”

He was referring to the fact that in Yemen, 18.8 million need assistance and more than 7 million are hungry and do not know where their next meal will come from. In Kenya, 2.7 million people are now food insecure, a number likely to reach 4 million by April. In South Sudan the man-made famine is worse than it has ever been; over 7.5 million people need assistance, 3.4 million people are displaced and more than 1 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished across the country; including 270,000 children who face the imminent risk of death should they not be reached in time with assistance and the cholera outbreak that began in June 2016 has spread to more locations. In Somalia, 6.2 million people need humanitarian and protection assistance, including 2.9 million who are at risk of famine and require immediate assistance to save or sustain their lives, close to 1 million children under the age of 5 will be acutely malnourished this year. In the last two months alone, nearly 160,000 people have been displaced due to severe drought conditions, adding to the already 1.1 million people who live in appalling conditions around the country. In North-Eastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. 10.7 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 7.1 million people who are severely food insecure.

Much is already being done:

“The UN and humanitarian partners are responding. We have strategic, coordinated and prioritised plans in every country. We have the right leadership and heroic, dedicated teams on the ground. We are working hand-in-hand with development partners to marry the immediate life-saving with longer term sustainable development. We are ready to scale up. This is frankly not the time to ask for more detail or use that postponing phrase, what would you prioritize? Every life on the edge of famine and death is equally worth saving.”

But much more needs to be done, the international community needs:

  1. to tackle the precipitating factors of famine; preserving and restoring normal access to food and ensuring compliance with international humanitarian law.
  2. to provide sufficient and timely financial support, humanitarians can still help to prevent the worst-case scenario. To do this, we require safe, full and unimpeded access to people in need. Parties to the conflict must respect this fundamental tenet of international humanitarian law and those with influence over the parties must exert that influence now.
  3. to stop the fighting. To continue on the path of war and military conquest is to guarantee failure, humiliation and moral turpitude and the responsibility for the millions who face hunger and deprivation on an incalculable scale because of it.

The warning couldn’t be clearer, this is not some unavoidable natural disaster:

“All these countries have one thing in common: conflict. This means we have the possibility to prevent, and end, further misery and suffering. The UN and its partners are ready to scale up. But we need the access and the funds to do more. It is all preventable. It is possible to avert this crisis, to avert these famines, to avert these looming human catastrophes. For 2017, the humanitarian community requires US$ 2.1 billion to reach 12 million people with life-saving assistance and protection in Yemen. Only 6 per cent of that funding has been received thus far.”

“I continue to reiterate the same message: it is only a political solution that will ultimately end human suffering and bring stability to the region…The situation for people in each country is dire and without a major international response, the situation will get worse.”

Whatever else we are, we are citizens of the world. Whatever we may disagree about, we can all see that these human conflicts threaten the survival of 20 million of our fellow human beings and jeopardise our collective security and our common humanity.

Challenges on this scale cannot be addressed by a politics which looks only inwards and puts domestic interests first. To rise to such challenges we need a global politics and global leadership.

The UN has set out the nature of this global crisis very clearly. We now need to respond as global citizens and demand the necessary global action.

See also:

The global economy of care (May 2016)

Instinct, heart and reason – the refugee crisis (August 2016)

Giving peace a voice (August 2015)

Democratic emotions in the face of barbarism (April 2015)


Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sixth form resolutions for 2017

2017Like its predecessor, this year will no doubt be full of challenges and opportunities for colleges and sixth forms. 16-19 year-olds remain the worst funded full-time students in England while rapid qualification and assessment reform continues to affect almost every course we offer.

On the positive side, the work of the area reviews is coming to a close and both our membership organisations, AoC and SFCA, have confident new voices to advocate for our sector.

A year ago, I made 4 New Year’s wishes. In this age of austerity it seems appropriate to reduce the number to 3, but also to upgrade the wishes to resolutions because we can all play a part in shaping our future.

So here are my sixth form resolutions for 2017:

This year, let’s…

  1. …ask ourselves what we mean by an educated adult and try to describe our educational aspirations for all 16-19 year-olds, rather than allowing ourselves to be limited by the ‘skills’ agenda and our students to be characterised as either ‘vocational or ‘academic’.
  2.  …try to find common ground between all 16-19 providers on funding and curriculum issues and make a strong case for the properly resourced, high quality sixth form education that all young people deserve and which is essential to our country’s future.
  3.  …build on the area reviews, working with school sixth forms, local and regional authorities and commissioners to start to plan provision and share good practice across their areas. This could lay the groundwork for a coherent, comprehensive 16-19 system capable of providing every young person in every part of the country with choice and entitlement to a broad and challenging education.

See also:

Going beyond (December 2016)

Education: what’s it all for? ( January 2016)

Imagining a better future is the first step (August 2015)

What’s at stake in the new post-16 Area-based reviews? (July 2015)

No austerity of the imagination (July 2015)

Posted in Education, Education policy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A 2016 guide to this blog.

2016I’ve continued to blog in 2016 and this eclectic collection of posts now numbers around 300; not all of which will interest everyone. To remain useful, such a resource needs to be well catalogued so I’ve tried to use categories and tags which help readers find what might interest them and I usually add a ‘see also’ section at the bottom of each post to provide some guidance. Here are a few strands, each of which offers a way in to a number of posts:

1. Most popular posts of 2016 (based on views after they move off the home page): Only one of the top 5 was actually published in 2016. It seems the vintage material is the most popular. Starting with the most read:

(i) What is powerful knowledge? (from 2015) about Michael Young’s book Knowledge and the Future School.

(ii) 20 questions to ask about a book you’ve read (from 2015) a resource for teachers and students.

(iii) Lessons without words: 10 things music teaches us about life (from 2014) a philosophical enquiry into the ineffable…

(iv) Let us be midwives! Sadako Kurihara (from 2015) a deeply affecting poem from the famous Hiroshima survivor.

(v) W.E.B. DuBois, black liberation and liberal education for all. The only post from 2016 to make the top 5.

2. Post-16 education: As a resource for the area review process, I published several posts on the uneven availability of ‘minority’ courses in our current sixth form environment, particularly in London: Dance, music, drama, philosophy, languages, the IB, research projects and classical studies. I also produced a sixth form profile for our East London sub-region and London as a whole. I have continued to argue for area collaboration and an adequate level of investment in our phase of education. I believe we should offer all students a broad, inclusive and challenging curriculum which values knowledge, skill and student research and it seems to me that the proposed National Bacc is a positive step in this direction. Other curriculum posts can be found here including Going beyond and Citizenship education and British values.

3. Education policyFollowing the Market Madness series of 7 posts critiquing market approaches to education, I have also argued against selection here and here. I am encouraged by the idea of a National Education Service and have suggested how to flesh it out and make it popular.

4. Challenging assumptions: I’ve tried to do this in an informed way: Is vocational education in England really ‘inadequate’? (January) The limits of social mobility (March) and Life in the qualification market (May) join previous posts such as: Do qualifications create wealth? Russell group university progression: dispelling the myths, Russell group numbers soar in Newham, and Is social mobility enough?

5. Philosophy: Amongst other things, I’ve been interested in levels of analysis, emergence, reductionism and the social origins of human thinking. I’ve continued with the series called the Economy of Ideas with posts such as  Capital as methaphorWhat is Social capital?  and The global economy of care. I’ve also shared ideas from: Gina Rippon, Theodore Zeldin and Jean Jaures.

6. Culture: Reviews of the work of: Joyce Carol Oates, Primo Levi and poetry by Rabindranath Tagore and Abdellatif Laabi. The specific challenges and joys of London, including its history, inequality, educational needs and achievements remains a regular theme. There are now also quite a few posts with historical themes.

7. France, Corsica and posts in French: I’ve drawn on the work of French educators such as Philippe Meirieu (often via the excellent Café Pedagogique) to show how our colleagues in a very different system are addressing some of the challenges we also face. I continue to write the occasional post in French in a vain attempt to remain functional in my ‘mother’ tongue.

8. Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc): I can’t resist some promotion of the work we do and the success and progression of NewVIc students, for example Young people debate free speech in the House of Lords. Some of our wonderful alumni continue to contribute to the ‘My NewVIc story’ series and there is a series of parent guides to post-16 progression.

9. Politics: My general commitment is to policies which promote equality, democracy, solidarity, peace and sustainability and I have commented occasionally on issues such as the EU referendum,  xenophobia and the refugee crisis.

10. More personal pieces: such as Remembering John Playfair (April) and Four young men and one war (December).

I do hope you find something here that provokes or delights you. My overview of posts from 2015 can be read here and delving further back, this is what I blogged about in 2014.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Abdellatif Laâbi: attesting against barbarism.

abdellatif-labi_285x0_264_290_90The brilliant Moroccan poet, novelist and playwright Abdellatif Laâbi is the epitome of the engaged writer. Born in Fez in 1942, he studied at the University of Rabat and was one of the founders of the literary magazine Souffles in 1966 which advocated social and political renewal in Morocco as well as cultural commentary and was banned in 1972. His political activity brought him into conflict with the authoritarian regime under King Hassan II in the so-called ‘years of lead’ and from 1972 to 1980 he was imprisoned and subjected to torture for ‘crimes of opinion’.

He has lived in France since 1985 and was awarded the Prix Goncourt de la Poésie in 2009 and the Académie Française’s Grand Prix de la Francophonie in 2011. His work is a lifelong confrontation with the barbarism humans are capable of:

“I think I know well miseries and luminosities, pettinesses and grandeurs, barbarism and refinement.” Le livre imprévu (2010)

Selections of Laâbi’s poems have been translated into English by André Naffis-Sahely, the latest is Beyond the Barbed Wire, published by Carcanet with support from English PEN.

In his 2013 interview with Christopher Schaefer he offers a critique of the divided Moroccan education system and says:

“School is where we form citizens, where we form democrats, individuals attached to democracy, to human rights, to humanist values that guard them against intolerance and extremism. That’s what I propose. But for me today, the political class as it exists is no longer capable of leading the fight for genuine democracy…We need the youth of today to take on that responsibility…”

In January 2015, in the wake of the terrorist killings in Paris, Abdellatif Laâbi offered the following poem as a “humble prayer that barbarism may not kill even hope”. This reminder of the necessity to draw a clear line between humanity and barbarism was taken up by many in France and across the world as a resource for hope and solidarity (this translation is mine).

I attest

I attest there that there is no human being

other than one whose heart trembles with love

for all their fellows in humanity

One who ardently desires

more for others than for themselves

freedom, peace, dignity

One who considers life

even more sacred

than their beliefs and deities

I attest there is no human being

other than one who struggles unrelentingly

against the hatred within themselves and all around

One who,

on opening their eyes in the morning

asks themselves

what will I do today

to not lose my quality and my pride

in being human ?

Abdellatif Laâbi, January 10th 2015

See also:

Early poems in The Rule of Barbarism (translated by André Naffis-Sahely)

Abdellatif Laâbi’s website – with a section in English.

Educating after the November 13th attacks (December 2015)

Giving peace a voice (August 2016)

Democratic emotions in the face of barbarism – Philippe Meirieu (April 2015)

Nazim Hikmet: Hiroshima and Strontium 90 (April 2015)

Posted in Culture, Education, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Four young men and one war.

This is a very brief account of the lives of 4 young men from around a century ago; all members of the same Scottish family. The accounts are neither special nor representative and they form a tiny fraction of the story of what we call the First World War. They come from browsing a family history book which concentrates on family members who share the same surname and is therefore patrilineal by design; following the male line. While tracing such individual stories a different way would have provided a different selection, the meta-narrative they contribute to is the same.

In the year the war broke out, cousins Lyon, Lambert, Ian and Patrick were aged 26, 21, 20 and 21 respectively. Lyon, Lambert and Ian were more closely related, sharing a common great-great-grandfather, James (b. 1738) who had been Principal of the United Colleges of St. Andrews University from 1799 until his death in 1819. Lyon and Lambert’s great-grandfather was Surgeon-General George, Ian’s great-grandfather was George’s brother Hugh; provost of St.Andrews in the 1840’s and 1850’s. Patrick shared with the other 3 a more distant common ancestor, Robert (b. 1610) a tenant farmer from Coupar Grange in Angus, and the great-great-grandfather of Principal James.

Lyon George Henry Lyon Playfair (b.1888) was a captain in the Royal Field Artillery who went to France at the start of the war and served in the retreat from Mons and the battles of the Aisne and the Marne.

Lambert Playfair (b. 1893) was a Lieutenant in the Royal Scots who returned from India with his battalion at the start of the war. He joined the Royal Flying Corps and was sent to France. On 6th July 1915 he was signalling the positions for enemy batteries near Ypres when his aeroplane was attacked by 2 enemy planes. He and his pilot fought back, despite having only 5 rounds of ammunition left.

Ian Stanley Ord Playfair (b. 1894) saw continuous service at the front as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. He took part in the battles of the Aisne and Flanders (1914), Ypres salient and Hooge (1915), Somme and Ancre (1916), Arras, Monchy-le-Preux and Ypres (1917), Arras and Bethune, Le Cateau and Landrecies (1918). He was wounded twice and mentioned in Despatches 4 times. He was awarded the Military Cross in June 1916, the Bar in September 1917 and the D.S.O. in January 1918.

Patrick Lyon Playfair (b. 1893) was at university in Cambridge when the war broke out and took up military duties as a captain in the Black Watch. He was in France in January 1917 and fought at Vimy Ridge and the battle of Arras where he was wounded in two places. He returned to France in March 1918 where he was again wounded on 11th April while holding a forward position close to Lestrem against frontal and flank attack until nearly all his men had fallen and he had fired his last cartridge.

Only one of these four young men remained alive by the end of the war. Lyon was killed in action on April 20th 1915. Lambert was shot through the heart and died in the aerial dogfight over Ypres in July 1915 and Patrick died in a German dressing station in April 1918.

Ian, who lived until 1972, was my paternal grandfather and is therefore the great-great-grandfather of my 3 year-old grandson, John. His survival around a century ago has allowed a further line of descent; from Ian to John, following that from Robert to James and from James to Ian.

Like countless other young people of their generation, however, Lyon, Lambert and Patrick didn’t get the opportunity to live long lives or to be parents. They were destined to be remembered only as young men.

This terrible conflict blasted a gaping hole through the family histories of millions of people across the world. The long legacy of war, mass murder or genocide is always one of lives unlived, opportunities unrealised and human suffering extending far beyond the broken branches of a family tree.

These individual human tragedies are the minuscule particles of a great tragedy; tiny tears in the ripped fabric of a world. To understand a war, we need to understand the social and political forces which brought it about; to translate from the motives and actions of millions of individuals to the motives and actions of their states, societies and armies. The individual and the social are different levels but they are connected. So, where we can, we should also ‘translate back’ and remember some of the individual victims and the human stories which contribute to the meta-narrative of a war. This remembering is a necessary pre-requisite for analysing and understanding – and then, perhaps, of imagining better ways to deal with conflict.

img_5801 img_5800img_5802





Lambert, Lyon and Patrick Playfair


Notes on the Scottish Family of Playfair by Rev. A.G. Playfair (1932).

See also:

London’s francophone refugees (September 2016)


Battle of Mons: 6,000 casualties.

First battle of the Aisne: 13,500 casualties.

First battle of the Marne: 500,000 casualties.

First battle of Ypres: 100,000 casualties.

Second battle of Ypres: 120,000 casualties.

Battle of the Somme: over 1,000,000 casualties.

Battle of Arras: 280,000 casualties.

Battle of Vimy Ridge: 10,000 casualties.

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What future for Sixth Form Colleges?

I was asked to give a personal view on the future of sixth form colleges at the 2016 FE Staff Governors Conference on 2nd December, organised by a group of education unions: UNISON, ATL/AMIE, UCU and NAS/UWT together with the Association of Colleges and the Education and Training Foundation. This post is based on the presentation I gave.

1. What makes us distinctive?

For a while, sixth form colleges were defined by our official ‘designation’ as such within the wider family of incorporated Further Education colleges. However, this designation has done little to establish any particular role for our ‘sub-sector’ in government thinking. We only exist in certain parts of the country and policy-makers who know little about our work tend to pigeon-hole us either with schools or with general FE. We have too often felt side-lined and neglected in the national educational debate with most of the energy and enthusiasm being aimed at either the ‘skills agenda’ or the academy and free school agenda. We’re not so much Cinderella as Cinderella’s less-noticed younger sister.

We can rightly point to our higher than average achievement rates within the FE sector and our greater inclusiveness than most school sixth forms. But we must beware of overstating our excellence. The fact that we are ‘somewhere between General FE and school sixth forms’ in terms of raw success and performance table scores needs to be set in the wider context of 16-19 provision where such scores are closely correlated to students’ prior achievement.

At a time when government seems convinced, against all the evidence, that greater academic selection is the recipe for success, I think we should also resist the temptation to present ourselves as post-16 ‘grammar schools’ to attract short-term political favour. To attribute our success to selectivity rather than inclusiveness would be to ignore one of our greatest strengths.

Sixth form colleges vary in size and offer, but what we all have in common is a strong focus on the needs of 16-19 year olds and an ethos of aspiration and success for all. We specialise in the full-time education and development of a specific age group and that’s probably why we do so well across the board at all levels.

2. What challenges do we face?

First, we need to recognise that the challenges we face are not unique to us. There is no doubt that the 16-19 phase is seriously under-resourced but we do have a single national funding system and we have not been singled out for victimhood, although this is how it sometimes feels.

In recent years we have lost most of the funding for tutorial and enrichment as well as 17.5% of the funding for our 18 year old students, Educational Maintenance Allowances were slashed and the rate per learner has been cash-frozen for several years. Funding per student for ‘full-time’ programmes is far lower than in schools or universities and we are barely able to sustain a minimal educational entitlement, let alone an aspirational one.

We are also experiencing an unprecedented volume and pace of curriculum change, with the content and assessment regime of pretty much every course we offer being substantially redesigned, and not always in ways which promote participation or progression.

We also face an explosion of competition as a result of new capacity being opened up all around us, particularly in urban areas. A seemingly endless succession of new academy sixth forms, 16-19 free schools and UTCs have been created with little planning or regard for genuine need or cost-effectiveness. While national criteria for such new provision have been established, these are not always respected and there is no proper mechanism for addressing pre-existing excess capacity or insufficiency.

3. How have we fared in the Area Reviews?

Sixth form colleges have been fully engaged in the area review processes although we have often felt marginal to their agenda. We have embraced the idea of partnership and sub-regional strategic planning and most of us are clearly viable, responsive and successful. But without school sixth forms being in the frame, the reviews have not had the opportunity to look at those parts of the system which most affect us and which most need scrutiny.

Sixth form colleges have seriously considered the option of academy conversion, with its beguiling prospect of ‘joining the mainstream’ and ‘delivering the government’s agenda’. Some are embracing it; often in order to build strong new partnerships with local schools.

However, many of us are opting for the ‘stand-alone’ sixth form college option. ‘Stand alone’ should not be seen as ‘stand-aloof’. It is simply the result of a judgement that in our particular context, neither merger nor academy conversion was necessary to get us to work closely with others in order to benefit young people.

As an autonomous incorporated institution, a ‘stand alone’ college can choose to build on existing relationships and consider a range of collaborative arrangements; with other colleges in its area, with the schools its students come from and also with the universities which they progress to. Such partnerships can offer many benefits, among them greater curriculum coherence, course design for progression, the sharing of expertise and good practice and the possibility of new economies of scale.

Each area has its own local dynamics and each college corporation is best placed to judge how their institution should evolve while preserving what it stands for. What is clear across England is that the sixth form college brand will survive and thrive well beyond the area reviews and any change of status.

4. So what is the future of Sixth Form Colleges?

The environment we work in has many features of a highly competitive market between institutions. Each of us is driven by the need to attract students and to make a distinctive contribution which responds to local needs. While these drivers can have some positive impacts, the market encourages protectionist behaviours and super-selection. The market also discourages area planning around student numbers, minority subjects or specialist provision all of which could enhance the local offer.

Sixth form colleges, with their specialist experience, sharp focus and good track record, are well placed to do much of the heavy lifting required to build on the best features of their local system. I think the future lies in strengthening that system in order to overcome the worst features of the market.

As we move on from the area reviews, we need to build on the networks and relationships established in the steering groups to deepen the discussion about all the post-16 provision in our areas and to find ways to engage with schools and regional commissioners to review the whole pattern of provision. Taken as a whole, this currently often falls short of meeting the educational needs and aspirations of all the 16-19 year olds in their area.

We need to make common cause with all other 16-19 providers to make a case for sufficient resources and sufficient provision in every area so that the kind of broad curriculum this age group deserves can be offered to all young people regardless of where they live or study.

So, the ambitious, autonomous and community-focused sixth form college has a lot to offer. If we choose to face outwards and work with others we can contribute to strengthening our local sixth form provision by placing ourselves at its heart. There is still a vital role for us; helping to lead the development of a 16-18 system fit for the 21st century.

See also:

Going beyond: What do we expect from the education of 16-19 year-olds in England? (October 2016)

Is collaboration the solution or the problem? (December 2015)

Leadership for partnership  (November 2015)

The problem with England’s post-16 area reviews (September 2015)

Imagining a better future is a first step (August 2015)

Sixth forms working together against the tide (June 2014)


Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979)

Posted in Education, Education policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment