Education is a human right

We mark Human Rights Day on December 10th and this year it is 69 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in Paris at a United Nations (UN) General Assembly in a post-conflict spirit of international solidarity and optimism. In the UK, it was the year of the founding of the National Health Service. 6 years earlier, ignorance was one of the Beveridge report’s 5 ‘giants’ afflicting British society and which needed to be tackled, together with disease, want, squalor and idleness. Scanning the current state of our planet and global trends it’s easy to be sceptical about any notion of global universal rights being realised anytime soon. Inequality, injustice, powerlessness, conflict and division seem to be in the ascendant.

Education has to be at the heart of any project to ensure human rights and promote human flourishing. If we recognise this, we cannot accept the gross disparities and injustices which still exist across the world and also within many states.

Of the 30 UDHR articles, the one which relates to education is:

Article 26. The right to education

  1. Everyone has a right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages, Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

It’s clear that we are furthest from achieving even these modest aims in parts the developing world, such as sub-Saharan Africa and the UN is right to focus its attention where the gap between aspiration and reality is widest.

However, even in a rich country like the UK, we are entitled to test the limits of Article 26 by asking:

  • Why would education not be free at all ages and stages?
  • Who decides who has enough ‘merit’ to progress to Higher Education?
  • Does our curriculum and assessment system promote the full development of the human personality?
  • Do we really value citizenship, human rights, and peace education in our system?

At the moment, the answers to these questions do not suggest that we are moving in the right direction.

Although progress has been made, we are still a long way from achieving the United Nations global aim of ‘Education for All’. Over 250 million children are not in school worldwide and around half of primary aged children who are not in education live in areas affected by conflict. 103 million young people lack basic literacy skills and over 60% of these are women.

The UN has 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Of these, goal 4 is

Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

Among the specific targets are:

  • Access to all levels of education
  • Early childhood development and pre-primary education,
  • Publicly funded primary and secondary education for all,
  • Literacy and numeracy skills for all,
  • Learning to live together and protect the environment,
  • Safe and inclusive learning environments,
  • Skills for work,
  • Gender equality and inclusion of marginalised groups
  • Well-trained teachers who are valued.

Until we increase our global effort to achieve these aims, and make the systemic changes which can allow them to succeed, we will not truly be honouring the promise made to future generations in 1948. This has to be one of our top priorities: globally, nationally and locally.

See also:

Education: the universal human right (May 2015)

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‘What if?’ – dystopias in fiction.

Fictional dystopias use the power of ‘what if?’ to change something or extrapolate particular social or technological trends and imagine the impact on people’s lives. The best ones are also good stories, well told, about people; their hopes, fears, feelings and relationships. They help us to imagine ourselves in a different society with different possibilities. They also remind us that change is possible, indeed inevitable; a different world is possible and things as they are can be challenged.

Dystopias can serve as a warning about our current direction of travel or the consolidation of things as they are. They can shine a light on our present reality and make us look at things with fresh eyes. Far from being purely escapism or fantasy, they make us think and discuss things which affect us in the real world. So, for instance:

What if… we lived in a society where:

  • People have survived a massively destructive event or war; a post-apocalyptic setting (Who Fears Death, Parable of the Sower, Divergent, The Handmaid’s Tale…)
  • People are bred to occupy distinct social roles or strictly categorised along racial lines (Brave New World, Never Let Me Go, Who Fears Death, The Parable of the Sower)
  • People are sharply divided on economic lines and the poor are treated as subhuman (Utopia).
  • Women have no rights and are routinely raped to provide children for the ruling class (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Religion is used to justify injustice and persecution (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Culture and heritage are deliberately destroyed and forgotten (Fahrenheit 451)
  • People are kept in a constant state of fear, hysteria and preparation for war (1984)
  • Propaganda is more important than truth (1984)
  • People are encouraged to take drugs and have casual sex (Brave New World)
  • People have no individuality or identity (We)

There are many other possible ‘what if’s’ or combinations of these and this is the raw material of dystopian fiction. Previous posts have recommended 8 great dystopian novels:

Reading Dystopias: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro,

More fictional dystopias: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick, It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.

Here are 4 more to add to these:

Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik (2008) [176 pages]

In one hour, I’ve done everything, and there’s nothing left in life that interests me or that I want…This was my land and this was my world. I was born here. If my father stole these rights, then they had become my birthright, and I wouldn’t give them up to beggars and street whores.

It’s 2023. Welcome to Utopia, the US-protected colony on the north Egyptian coast to which the wealthy retreated in the first decade of the 21st century. The Others, outside Utopia have sunk into hunger, disease and violence. In this vision of an alternative future, written in Arabic, Utopia’s youth are spoiled, devoid of feeling for others. Only one thrill remains to the young who are inured to appreciation by a lifetime of instant gratification – and it lies beyond the barbed wire and security fences of Utopia. The narrator and his girlfriend are on a mission to find a suitable Other to kill, and then hack off a limb to bring back as a trophy of their hunt.

Ahmed Khaled Towfik (born in 1962) is an Egyptian medical professor and the Arab world’s best-selling author of horror and fantasy genres and has written over 500 books.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (2010) [304 pages]

The novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic future version of Sudan, where the light-skinned Nuru oppress the dark-skinned Okeke. The protagonist, Onyesonwu (Igbo for ‘who fears death’), is an Ewu, the child of an Okeke woman raped by a Nuru man. On reaching maturity, she goes on a quest to defeat her sorcerous father Daib using her magical powers.

The novel was partly inspired by an article about the ‘weaponization’ of rape by militias in the Darfur conflict. The novel includes a graphic scene in which Onyesonwu is subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), which significantly impairs her ability to use her magical powers. When she was challenged about her criticism of FGM in the book, Okorafor commented that she is proud of her Igbo identity, but that:

“culture is alive and it is fluid. It is not made of stone nor is it absolute. Some traditions/practices will be discarded and some will be added, but the culture still remains what it is…Just because I believe that aspects of my culture are problematic does not mean I am ‘betraying’ my people by pointing out those problems…What [cutting] all boils down to … is the control and suppression of women.”

Nnedi Okorafor was born in the United States to Nigerian parents. She has a PhD in English and is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. She has won many awards for her short stories and young adult books. Who Fears Death was awarded the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and Okorafor wrote a prequel, The Book of Phoenix which was published in 2015.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler (1993) [299 pages]

Set in a future where society has fallen apart as a result of climate change, massive inequalities and corporate exploitation, this is the story of the ‘hyperempathic’ young woman, Lauren Oya Olamina, who has a unique ability to feel the emotions and pain of others. As a teenager growing up in a gated community she begins to develop a new belief system which she calls Earthseed. After her family are murdered, she travels north with other survivors. The world is in chaos, ethnic and religious minorities are persecuted and inter-racial relationships are discouraged. Lauren believes that humankind’s future is to travel beyond Earth and live on other planets, forcing a new kind of maturity, with Earthseed as part of the preparation…

The American author Octavia Butler (1947 – 2006) described herself as “a pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist always, a black, a quiet egoist, a former Baptist and an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty and drive.” She consistently resisted the threat of ‘hierarchical’ thinking which she saw leading to intolerance and violence between people. In A World without Racism she wrote:

“Simple peck-order bullying is only the beginning of the kind of hierarchical behaviour that can lead to racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, classism, and all the other ‘isms’ that cause so much suffering in the world.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011) [487 pages]

In a future society, people are divided into five factions based on their dispositions. Abnegation: the selfless, Amity: the peaceful, Candour: the honest, Dauntless: the brave and Erudite: the intellectual. All 16-year-olds undergo extreme initiation tests to decide which faction they belong in, with devastating consequences, while the ‘factionless’ live in poverty. The ruthless order of this society is threatened by growing conflict.

The American writer Veronica Roth was born in 1988 and Divergent is the first of a trilogy which includes Insurgent and Allegiant. Divergent was the Goodreads Favourite Book of 2011 and the of the Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction award in 2012.

Assignment: Try to come up with some original ‘what if’s’ of your own and write a brief description of the dystopian society they would generate as a setting for a story. What new dramatic possibilities does the situation offer.

See also:

Reading Dystopias (July 2015)

More Fictional Dystopias (March 2017)

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Learning through conflict.

Education, like all human endeavour, requires conflict, struggle, challenge, disagreement, argument, difference, dialectic, dialogue. If we want to learn or make anything new, we need to reach towards what we don’t know, to seek out the unknown. Education, and life itself, can be thought of as a constant struggle at the frontiers of our ignorance; a struggle to sharpen our understanding of the world in the hope of making some impact on it.

But conflict can be frightening, threatening. Many people have good reason to fear conflict because to them it is associated with real hardship, danger and even violence. A new unknown is not welcome if past unknowns have been connected with danger. So, to be a place of ‘learning risk’, the educational space has to be free of actual personal risk.

Human civilisation has been at least partly about mastering conflict and making it less threatening and more creative. As the possibilities of human action become greater and societies become more complex, it becomes more and more vital to describe, manage and codify conflict. Communication, discussion, rationality, debate, government, politics, treaties and agreements, legal systems, ideas about respect, human rights and equality can all be seen as means to contain conflict and allow human potential to flourish in ways which do not constantly jeopardise our personal safety. Even the processes of war, which are essentially about mass violence, have be subject to rules and conventions.

We have a duty of care and a responsibility to keep our students safe from violence, abuse, harassment, discrimination, physical harm or exploitation. We need to protect them and nurture them as they learn about the world, but we also have a duty to tell them the truth about the world. This is not about encouraging a sense of victimhood, grievance or fragility but caring for them as they gain the confidence and strength of mind to take on the dangers which they will undoubtedly face.

We also have a duty to explain and promote values of democracy, freedom and rights, the rule of law, respect for others and to develop the practice of those values. In other words, we need an education for full citizenship and I think that in England we’re still a long way from doing that effectively.

I think what we need is a social pedagogy of agency, a pedagogy of possibility and empowerment. I don’t think this should be a ‘you can do anything if you try hard enough’ positivity and it’s not quite the same as the promotion of ‘character’ or ‘grit’. It needs to do more than promote a resilience which means being good at dealing with what life throws at you, or a wellbeing which means being happy or satisfied with life. When faced with injustice, discrimination or inequality our students need to know that things could be better and to be able to do something about those things that something can be done about.

Everything we do in our education settings should aim to promote students’ greater autonomy and agency and their critical understanding of the world as it is, recognising its complexity and the interdependence and inter-relationship of self and others. We want our students to think and act well. We should assume that our students will be more than subjects – but that will want to be agents – out there in the world, doing things and aiming to making a difference.

Just as young children need to learn to master their raw emotions and see the world through others’ eyes in order to learn to live and work with others, we all need to learn how to be critical, sceptical, how to respectfully disagree and engage constructively with others in society. This learning has to be taken step by step with the challenge and risk of failure managed.

Where does this place us as educators in what we all agree is a time of polarisation and division in our society? I think we need to develop our students’ understanding and skill well beyond what is currently expected. Our schools and colleges need to be places where students can take a step back from the world in order to study it better and prepare to step up to a role in that world. We need to think of our education system as the workshop where people hone their rational, critical faculties and ask all the questions they have about the world and start to explore the answers.

What does this mean when we are confronted with divisive and controversial topics such as Brexit and Trump? Like any other aspect of the real world, these are legitimate subjects of study and cannot be sidestepped. They need to be understood and our approach should be to use them as an opportunity to be analytical and rational and to consider the world from different perspectives rather than pressing students to have an opinion.

We have a duty to challenge fake news and irrational beliefs and superstitions. We cannot shy away from controversy but face it head on. Our objectivity has to be reasoned and well-informed; not an ‘equal value to every opinion’ neutrality. We need to be radical rationalists and rigorous explainers, partisans of enlightenment, which of course sometimes means ‘taking sides’ when core values are challenged or threatened. We shouldn’t aim to propagandize but starting from a set of beliefs and values which we know to be necessary for society to function, we should aim to ‘activate’ our students so they can build their own agency.

Of course we cannot pretend that it’s possible to achieve absolute objectivity or academic detachment. We also need to recognize that both students and teachers bring a wide range of experiences and identities, and prejudices, to the learning process. Our identities, our histories and our feelings are important elements which will shape our approach to our studies. Nevertheless, I do think the task of educators is primarily to help learners develop a particular distinctive identity as students of the world. This need not replace their existing identities but it is what will help them reach out beyond what they know to what they could know; from what they are to what they could be.

Should we teach conflict resolution? Can conflict ever be fully resolved? We can understand it, explain it, come to terms with it and practice ways to manage it and move things forward without resorting to violence or pretending it doesn’t exist. But we absolutely need it; it is a prerequisite of human progress and learning. And so, we should value understanding, use increasingly complex analyses and model the skills needed for robust debate, productive dialogue and deliberative democracy. This is what will help us embrace and channel conflict.

Hannah Arendt’s statement that “education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to take responsibility for it” reminds us that the education is a social project which starts with  people who care about something worth caring about and want to be in a position to do something about it.

This is an extended version of my contribution to the Embracing Controversy Panel discussion at the Conflict Matters Conference in London on November 8th-10th 2017 organised by the Evens Foundation. Other members of the panel included Claudia Ruitenberg of the University of British Columbia, Raheel Mohammed of Maslaha and Justin Schlosberg of Birkbeck, University of London. It was chaired by Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas)

See also:

Giving young people a stake in their future (July 2017)

Reconstruction in an age of demolition (July 2017)

The habits of democracy (May 2017)

Going beyond (October 2016)

Crick reloaded: citizenship education and British values (September 2016)

Colleges and violent extremism (January 2015)

Post-16 citizenship in tough times (May 2014)

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The East End’s ‘engine of progression’.

The East End’s ‘engine of progression’.

In September, the Mail Online and others published articles extolling the achievements of the ‘Eton of the East End’, one of the highly selective sixth forms in Newham which have opened in recent years. In the interests of balance, here is the story of their comprehensive neighbour’s results told in a similar style:

The East End’s ‘engine of progression’.

Inner city college with some of the poorest students in the country dubbed the ‘East End Engine of Progression’ sent 96 students to top Russell Group universities this year.

  • Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) in Newham sent 661 students to university this year and nearly 7,000 over the last 10 years.
  • The college has been getting students into Russell group universities for 25 years including over 400 over the past 5 years.
  • Mughees Hassan is going to Cambridge to study Natural Sciences this year, he is the latest of 13 NewVIc students to go to Oxbridge in the last 10 years.
  • Both NewVIc students who went to Oxford University in 2014 graduated with First Class degrees this year.
  • 3 students: Bibire Baykeens, Fatima Habib and Nadia Jama are going on to study medicine.
  • NewVIc saw 28 of its A-level candidates achieving A* grades this summer and over 70 achieved at least an A grade.
  • On of the college’s A-level Biology candidates achieved the highest mark in the country in one of her papers this year.

A comprehensive inner-city college in one of London’s most deprived areas dubbed the ‘East End Engine of Progression’ sent 96 students to the country’s most prestigious Russell Group universities including one to Cambridge this year. The students all attended Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) and are starting degree courses in Medicine, Maths, Engineering, Law, Accounting, Psychology, English, History, Drama, Politics and Nursing amongst many other subjects.

Principal Eddie Playfair said: ‘NewVIc students have been progressing to university in large numbers for 25 years, including to Oxbridge and other Russell Group institutions. This year’s 98 per cent A-level pass rate is our best result to date and the proportion of high grades is also our highest ever, but, most importantly, it means that students who come to NewVIc make great progress and achieve the grades they need to help them progress to their chosen degree course at university.’

Two thirds of the college’s A-level grades are in the A*-C range.

Many of the students at NewVIc are from the London Borough of Newham, which is one of the most deprived in the city. According to census data, 46.5 per cent of the 330,000 residents describe themselves as either Asian or Asian British. Some 26.5 per cent say they are white, while 18.1 per cent are black or black British.

Clearly both sixth forms have great results to celebrate. One difference is that in a comprehensive college, these ‘top’ results are just a small part of a bigger story of success and progression across the board. And this particular comprehensive college has been doing the heavy lifting to improve the participation, achievement and progression of tens of thousands of Newham students over the last 25 years. Too long to be newsworthy perhaps!

Good luck to those who can persuade the national media to blow their trumpet for them. The rest of us will just have to blow our own!

For the full story of NewVIc’s 2017 results and progression see:

NewVIc class of 2017 progress to university (October 2017)

NewVIc results 2017 (August 2017)

And for the longer term story of success:

Newham’s outstanding record of widening participation (August 2017)

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Being honoured

I was honoured to attend the 2017 Graduation ceremony for University of East London’s Sir John Cass School of Education and Communities on 1st November 2017. The ceremony granted UEL degrees in Early Childhood Studies, Education Studies, Social Work , Special Education and Youth and Community Work  to over 500 graduates, many of whom were former NewVIc students and some who were parents of NewVIc students. It was a real privilege to share this day with them and to see so many of our alumni complete the next phase of their education and get one step closer to achieving  their goal to work in education – the best job in the world!

I was accepting a UEL honorary doctorate and was particularly excited to be receiving it in the same year as democracy and accountability campaigner Gina Miller and the actor and disability advocate Sally Phillips.

What I said in my acceptance speech:

I need to start by saying that I’m not really that keen on honours. In fact, I didn’t attend my own graduation in 1982. At that time, I thought it was very un-cool. But after attending graduation ceremonies for some of my own children and hosting many awards evenings as a college principal over the years, I think I’ve come to value the symbolic importance of these occasions. And on this occasion, I am deeply honoured to accept this honorary doctorate.

I’m honoured for at least two reasons: first, because of where it’s coming from and second, because of what it’s for.

Firstly, it’s coming from a great East London institution. A university deeply rooted in its community which reflects and celebrates that community while also having national and global impact. A university which aims to put its human, intellectual and cultural resources at the service of the people of our diverse and cosmopolitan city and helps them to achieve wonderful things. A university which has worked in partnership with our college throughout its 25-year history; providing outstanding governors for our corporation, sponsoring our sports teams and helping to mentor our students and develop their skills in challenging hate speech, managing money and undertaking research projects amongst many other things.

So I am very proud of our association with the University of East London and very excited about the new East London Skills and Employment Federation which we are both part of.

Secondly, I think this is a recognition of the work we do and have been doing at NewVIc for 25 years: stretching, challenging, broadening horizons, raising participation, achievement and progression for 16-19 year olds in East London. A full-spectrum college which is designed to offer the full range of courses and refuses to be defined by others as either academic or vocational, either specialist or selective. I see this as a celebration of our democratic and egalitarian vision of the comprehensive college which wants to share the benefits of education as widely as possible.

I think that UEL and NewVIc share the same values and beliefs. One way of putting this is that we want to educate with purpose. At a time when we could easily become more ignorant, more fearful, more selfish more self-absorbed, we need places which build knowledge, skill, understanding, community and wisdom. So I am delighted to be able to honour our shared values and our shared purpose; to develop active, critical, inquisitive citizens rather than passive, silent, acquisitive consumers – people who do rather than simply being done to and who do what they do with a real care and respect for others. We need all our educational institutions to be ‘wisdom’s workshops’ with a common mission to share and prepare, to train and transmit, to renew and re-invent our world and make it fit for human flourishing.

This  is important work and I want to congratulate everyone here who has made a commitment to work in education.

To paraphrase Hannah Arendt, being an educator requires us to ‘love the world enough’ to take responsibility for it. I guess that means that there’s a lot of love in this place today!

You’ll forgive me for closing with something many of you will already have heard me say, because it’s what I say to all our leavers at ceremonies like this:

As you stand on the threshold of the next phase of your life and look back as well as forward –  be proud. Be proud of all you have achieved, be proud of you family, your culture, your language, your beliefs and all your achievements. You are someone and you’ve achieved something. But don’t stop there. Look forward and make sure you become what you are capable of becoming, which is so much more.

It has been a great honour to share this celebration with you. Thank you.

See also: 

NewVIc class of 2017 progress to university (October 2017)

Newham’s outstanding record of widening participation (August 2017)

Investing in East London’s future (December 2014)

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NewVIc class of 2017 progress to university.

The NewVIc class of 2017.

Our class of 2017 was a diverse and ambitious cohort, full of great young people preparing to make a positive contribution by acquiring a range of professional skills and qualifications:

661 students progressed to higher education with an 89% progression rate across all applicants; A-level and vocational. This is well above the national average.

96 students progressed to Russell Group universities – a new record for our college, representing 15% of all students progressing.

Where did they all go?

Over two thirds of NewVIc progressors go to just 7 universities, all in London.

These ‘top 7’ university destinations now account for 69% of students progressing and this group has remained the same for the last 5 years: Middlesex, Greenwich, East London (UEL), Westminster, Queen Mary University of London, City University and London South Bank.

In terms of numbers, the picture is broadly stable with the biggest increases over 2016 at Middlesex (up 22 students), Queen Mary University of London (up 13 students), Greenwich (up 10 students), and City University (up 10 students).

13% of NewVIc students progressed to universities outside the London area which required them to live away from home. This is down from 14% in 2016 with the highest numbers going to De Montfort (9 students), Coventry (8), Anglia Ruskin (8), Bedfordshire (6) and Kent (5).

The Russell Group list remains dominated by Queen Mary University of London, not surprising as it is the nearest Russell Group university to our college. It accounts for 73% of all NewVIc’s Russell Group places. Other key institutions are University College London (UCL) with 9 students and King’s College London (KCL) with 5, with a good spread of students progressing to 9 other Russell Group universities.  It’s also worth noting that, as usual, a good number of our vocational students also progressed to Russell Group universities, demonstrating that good vocational qualifications are valued by selective universities when they understand them well.

What are they all studying?

As usual, our students are progressing to pretty much the full range of degree courses available, with the most popular degrees being very broadly by title: Accounting (70+), Business (70+), Medical and biomedical (60+), Engineering (50 +), Computing (50+), Law (40+), Education (40+), Psychology (20+), Sport / PE (20+).

Their impressive achievements represent just one year’s worth of our investment in the future of the London economy. In the context of a 25-year record of similar annual progression, the college has contributed to enhancing our economy with tens of thousands of skilled professionals, all of whom are still of working age. That’s enough health workers, teachers, engineers and lawyers to power several London boroughs!

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths: 202 students.

Nursing and Midwifery (22), Paramedical Science (20), Biomedical Science or Radiography (10), Mathematics (9), Pharmacy or Pharmacology (8), Science – including Biology or Chemistry (8), Forensic Science (6), Biochemistry (4), Medicine (3), Neuroscience (2), Opthalmic dispensing (1), Animal management (1).

Electrical / Electronic Engineering (12), Civil Engineering (10), Mechanical Engineering (9), Construction and the Built Environment (9), Aeronautical Engineering (5), Engineering (4), Chemical Engineering (2), Automobile Engineering (1), Biomedical Engineering (1).

Computer Science, Software Engineering / Networking (40), Games Design, technology or development (10), Computer Forensics (5).

Economics, Business, Management and Accounting: 172 students

Accounting or Finance (72), Business or Business Management (59), Business Information Technology / Systems (13), Marketing (10), Economics (9), Human Resources Management (6), Advertising (3).

Humanities and Social Sciences: 84 students

Psychology (22), Sociology or Social Science (17), English (14), History (9), Politics (9), Journalism (7), Geography (2), Arabic (1), Creative writing (1), Philosophy (1), Religious Studies (1).

Law and Criminology: 63 students.

Law (49), Criminology (14).

Education and Social Work: 51 students

Education (37), Early childhood studies (9), Social work or youth work (4), Counselling / Psychotherapy (1).

Visual and Performing Arts: 44 students

Film, TV and media production (12), Architecture (9), Design or product design (7), Music or music technology (6), Fashion or textiles (5), Drama (3), Dance (2).

Sport, Travel, Tourism and Event Management: 34 students

Sport or PE (26), Hospitality, tourism, airline or event management (8)

[11 other degree destinations haven’t been categorised.]

Top 30 universities for the NewVIc class of 2017:

University students %
Middlesex 80 12.1
Greenwich 76 11.5
East London 72 10.9
Westminster 71 10.7
Queen Mary University of London 70 10.6
City University 47 7.1
London South Bank 39 5.9
Goldsmiths 20 3.0
Kingston 15 2.3
Hertfordshire 14 2.1
De Montfort 9 1.4
University College London 9 1.4
Brunel 8 1.2
Coventry 8 1.2
London Metropolitan 7 1.1
Bedforshire 6 1.0
Kent 5 0.8
King’s College London 5 0.8
College of Law 5 0.8
West London 5 0.8
Roehampton 4 0.6
St. George’s, University of London 4 0.6
Birkbeck 3 0.5
Bournemouth 3 0.5
Brighton 3 0.5
Central Lancashire 3 0.5
Leicester 3 0.5
Northampton 3 0.5
Portsmouth 3 0.5
Ravensbourne 3 0.5

 Russell group progression for the NewVIc class of 2017:

University students
Queen Mary University of London 70
University College London (UCL) 9
King’s College London (KCL) 5
Birmingham 2
Leeds 2
Southampton 2
Bristol 1
Cambridge 1
Exeter 1
Imperial College 1
London School of Economics 1
Sheffield 1

See also:

NewVIc results 2017 (August 2017)

The NewVIc class of 2016 (August 2017)

Newham’s outstanding record of widening participation (August 2017)

Reducing London’s disadvantage gap (January 2016)

Let’s celebrate vocational success (January 2016)

University progression for the NewVIc class of 2015 (December 2015)

NewVIc breaks all its university progression records (September 2015)

Russell group numbers soar in Newham (August 2015)

From free school meals to university (April 2015)

Where do all our A level students go? (January 2015)

Vocational education: rejecting the narrative of failure (January 2015)

Investing in East London’s future (2014 university progression) (December 2014)

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L’innovation pedagogique

Je suis chef d’établissement d’un Sixth Form College polyvalent du Centre-Est de Londres, c’est-à-dire un lycée pour les étudiants de première et de terminale qui préparent l’université. Nous offrons des programmes généraux, professionnels et des classes de rattrapage. Ça fait 16 ans que je suis principal, dont 10 à NewVIc.  Avant tout je suis enseignant ; professeur de Sciences et passionné de l’éducation.

Quelle est l’innovation pédagogique qui vous a le plus marquée dans votre carrière ?

J’enseigne depuis 1982, j’ai donc vécu une période de transformation extraordinaire des technologies pédagogiques. Au début ; manuels scolaires, duplicateurs, réseaux professionnels locaux. Maintenant ; accès illimité aux connaissances, aux moyens de communication personnalisés et aux réseaux professionnels mondiaux.  Nos cerveaux et nos préoccupations ont peu changé mais nous disposons aujourd’hui d’outils immensément plus puissants pour la recherche, la création et le partage de notre matériel pédagogique. L’informatique, l’internet et les médias sociaux nous permettent d’étendre at d’approfondir les possibilités de l’apprentissage humain et du dialogue pédagogique. Donc tout semble avoir changé dans les moyens et les méthodes, mais fondamentalement rien n’a changé. Les éléments de base et notre travail de transmission culturelle et sociale perdurent. Néanmoins, il faut s’adapter et augmenter nos capacités critiques, de recherche et de discernement pour profiter des nouvelles technologies.

Quelles sont les difficultés des professeurs innovants en Grande Bretagne et comment les surmonter ?

L’éducation en Angleterre se différencie des autres systèmes nationaux du Royaume Uni. Depuis plusieurs années, l’Angleterre poursuit un programme de marchandisation de l’éducation publique qui se caractérise par une forte concurrence entre établissements autonomes, De plus en plus, le système public est remplacé par des réseaux d’établissements semi-privés qui ne répondent plus aux collectivités d’une façon démocratique. En même temps, nous subissons un système d’inspection sévère qui punit les établissements qui ont des résultats au-dessous de la moyenne.

L’innovation pédagogique se vit donc dans ce contexte super-concurrentiel dans un environnement ou on préfère ne pas trop expérimenter ou prendre de risques. Le partage entre concurrents est découragé et le rôle de l’enseignant professionnel se définit en fonction du succès de l’établissement vis-à-vis des autres.

Quelle est la place de l’innovation dans la politique éducative Britannique ?

L’innovation existe, mais elle ne suit pas un plan commun d’investissement ou un programme national. Elle est ressentie de façon très différente dans les établissements différents. Le choix d’innover et comment innover sont surtout les décisions de chefs d’établissement quasiment autonomes. On peut donc trouver des pratiques et des philosophies pédagogiques contrastantes dans des établissements voisins.

Quelle est votre représentation de l’innovation ?

Être enseignant c’est être innovant. Il faut constamment se demander comment mieux faire. Nos plus importantes ressources pour rester innovants sont : nos réflexions personnelles sur nos pratiques, notre volonté d’expérimenter, notre ouverture aux idées nouvelles et notre évaluation honnête qui tient compte du dialogue professionnel avec nos collègues et nos étudiants.

La véritable innovation trouve son origine dans cet esprit d’expérimentation et d’auto-critique rigoureuse. Bien entendu, nous devons tenir compte de nouveaux outils qui peuvent nous rendre la vie plus facile. Souvent un nouvel outil peut lui-même suggérer une nouvelle approche. Mais l’adoption d’un nouvel outil n’est pas en soi innovant.

Pour moi, les innovations pédagogiques les plus importantes seront toujours celles qui nous permettent de mieux répondre aux questions fondamentales : comment faire réfléchir, comment stimuler le désir d’apprendre et de s’épanouir ? Comment approfondir et élargir la compréhension et la maitrise ? Que demandons-nous de nos étudiants ? Quelles activités, quelles taches, quel langage parlé et écrit ? Comment mieux faire pour établir les connaissances et les compétences qui leur permettront de réussir leur apprentissage culturel et citoyen ? On peut être certain que parmi les bonnes réponses il y aura toujours une synthèse du vieux et du neuf.

En conclusion, je pense qu’il faut éviter la ‘neomanie’.  Quand on nous propose de nouvelles méthodes et de nouvelles technologies, donnons-nous le temps de les comprendre et les évaluer et adoptons ce qui a de mieux sans trop être ébloui par leur nouveauté.

Eddie Playfair, principal de Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc), Londres.

Interview publié dans la série Ceux qui Innovent sur le site Ecole Innovante

Voir aussi (en Francais):

Les réfugiés francophones de Londres (2016)

Egalité et solidarité dans une société diverse (2016)

Grammaire de Gramsci et dialectique de Dewey (2015)

Leçons sans paroles : comment la musique nous apprend à vivre (2015)

L’autonomie : pourquoi (2015)

Laïcité, égalité, diversité (2015)

Citoyens multilingues, société multiculturelle (2015)

L’inspection en Angleterre (2014)

Le numérique en questions : une perspective anglaise (2014)

Socrate et le numérique (2014)

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