Posted by & filed under Author blogs, Author Q & A, New books.

By Suma Din

Suma Din shares her experiences as a Muslim mother in the state school system and describes what inspired her book Muslim Mothers and their Children’s Schooling – a study that gives voice to more than fifty women from a wide range of African, Arab and Asian backgrounds and all social classes, some of them immigrants but many born in the UK.

 

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Could you tell us a little about your professional background?

I read English Language and Literature at UCL and went on to do a PGCE at the IOE, after which I combined ESOL teaching and writing educational books and resources across the humanities curriculum. I moved into Adult Education and worked in the Family Learning sector, running courses for parents to achieve national literacy or ESOL qualifications as well as courses that helped them support their children’s literacy learning at school. Alongside writing and teaching, I’ve always been heavily involved with local voluntary roles such as being a primary school governor and with interfaith work.

What inspired your book?

There were several stimuli that inspired this book, which were equally important, and I outline these in the book’s preface. Of those, the two following areas in particular stand out.

Having been involved with my children’s schools, and as a parent-governor, I appreciate the partnership between the home and school that’s required for the whole school community to progress. However, there are often gaps in this relationship, and in some cases, there is no partnership at all. While there is a body of research on the ways minority parents are interacting with their children’s schooling, I found the experiences of Muslim mothers was submerged within the general narrative of parents, rather than specifically looking at their position. Given that Muslim children constitute the largest faith minority presence of 8.1% in state schools in England and Wales (Sundas, 2015), it seemed only logical to share their mothers’ perspectives on education and their contemporary experiences.

At the same time, out in the public domain, Muslim mothers receive a disproportionate amount of negative press. They are either situated as mothers of ‘jihadi-brides’ or ‘terrorist sons’, or oppressed victims of forced marriages, honour killings or FGM. As I state in the book, these acute problems require attention and robust challenging – but these are not the only lens through which this section of society should be viewed. Only seeing Muslim mothers in these ways does little to encourage better relations between students, staff and parents. Challenging these essentialized views was another incentive to interview mothers and hear what they had to say. When given the opportunity to define themselves, they showed, for example, how they wanted to correct misconceptions about their essentialized public image and explain who they really are and how they would like to be understood. This commonality was found across different ethnic, educational and socio-economic backgrounds.

‘I’m a Muslim woman and a Somali mother so my main identity is a Muslim woman/mother. This covers everything – my religion is a way of life, so, if I want to be a good citizen, mother, woman, I have to be a good Muslim…that’s what I think. That’s my identity.’ 

 – Hibaaq (Chapter 4, p. 51)

‘It’s that need to show, that I’m just a parent and that we’re not all the same, and perhaps undo some of the stereotypes.

Tahira (Chapter 4, p. 56)

As well as these reasons, the questions I was asked when delivering Islam & Cultural Awareness CPD to colleagues clearly indicated there were many misconceptions, for example around how Muslims view school festivals, education and the position of women in the family. One mother in the study illustrates the complexity in her narrative about playground dynamics and contemporary politics. She relates how, during the week the law against forced marriage was being passed, she was asked by another parent she was friendly with: ‘How d’you feel about your forced marriage?’ Their ensuing conversation in Chapter 5, titled ‘Relationships’, demonstrates the need for far more communication about everyday assumptions.

What do you hope readers will learn having read it?

I hope the narratives from the data help readers feel more confident about recognizing the plurality of Muslim families. A small study like this is a microcosm of the diversity among parents from a range of backgrounds. For instance, some participants were very critical about Muslim mothers in their own community; some questioned mosque education teaching styles and timings; others were reflective about their parent’s choices for their own education. This is just some of the variety readers will encounter.

I would like this book to be an introduction to more dialogue between practitioners and parents generally, and Muslim mothers in particular. ‘I didn’t ask as I don’t want to offend’ is a comment I’ve come across regularly when interacting with teachers and other professionals. I hope readers will find some answers to those unspoken questions. As one mother in the study reflected:

‘Every day in the staff room they bring the METRO in and the first page is someone did something. When the staff read this, the only thing they think is it’s not a good religion. Even though they know us as staff, as good, but they get bombarded with the negative. Even for us, as Muslims, what can we say? They never ask directly, but you can see in their eyes and I volunteer and say ‘this is not Islam’. When they have questions, I will go and explain, it’s part of my job’.

Zarah, parent adviser (Chapter 7,  p.114)

Ultimately, hearing mothers’ narratives at a time when there are loud voices of separation and division to compete with, should contribute to a more nuanced perspective for practitioners.

Reference: Ali, Sundas et. al. (2015) British Muslims in Number: A demographic, socio-economic and health profile of Muslims in Britain drawing on the 2011 Census. London. Muslim Council of Britain.

Buy now: Muslim Mothers and their Children’s Schooling by Suma Din.

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Thank you to all those who joined us at the 10th Harold Rosen lecture on 20th March 2017.

The evening was very well-attended, with over 200 people who filled the auditorium of the Cruciform building in London’s Gower Street.

Well-known poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen kicked off the event with a few words, followed by a moving introduction from Harold Rosen’s wife, Betty.

The main event was an eloquent lecture from the editor of the collection, John Richmond, who delivered a fitting tribute to Harold Rosen and his contribution to English teaching in the second half of the twentieth century.

In case you missed this wonderful evening, you can watch the video below.

The transcript of the lecture can be downloaded here.

Rosen and his colleagues forged and sustained a new understanding of the purpose and possibilities of secondary school English. Beyond the constituency of secondary English, Harold’s teachings, writings and activities illuminated many more people’s understanding of the relationship between language and learning in any context, whatever the age of the learner and the content of the learning.

Buy now: Harold Rosen: Writings on life, language and learning, 1958–2008 by John Richmond

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rosen_blogUCL IOE Press cordially invites you to attend the 10th Harold Rosen Lecture to celebrate the launch of Harold Rosen: Writings on life, language and learning, 1958–2008.

This new collection, edited by John Richmond, contains over 50 pieces of Harold Rosen’s writings, including some of his stories and poems. John Richmond will be giving the lecture, and will be introduced by Harold Rosen’s son, well-known children’s author Michael Rosen.

This special lecture takes place at 5pm on Monday 20th March 2017 at Lecture Theatre 1, Cruciform Building, UCL, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT.

There will be drinks afterwards in the Cruciform Café, with the opportunity to buy this title at a special 20% discount.

Please RSVP by Friday 10 March 2017 by contacting Sally Sigmund at s.sigmund@ucl.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7911 5565.

Praise for Harold Rosen: Writings on life, language and learning, 1958–2008:

‘Those of us who knew Harold will enjoy hearing his voice again; those who have not yet met him will relish the wit, incisiveness and principle of this remarkable man.’
– Eve Bearne, United Kingdom Literacy Association

 

‘A reader of this collection will appreciate the great contribution Harold Rosen made to education, language and literature.’
– Professor Neil Mercer, University of Cambridge

 

 ‘This is a most welcome bringing-together of the writings of one of the most admired and influential thinkers and doers in the world of English teaching and language education in the second half of the 20th century.’
– Professor Ronald Carter, University of Nottingham and Cambridge Language Sciences, University of Cambridge

This is event is co-hosted by DARE, LATE and UCL IOE Press.

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NEW JOURNAL ADVANCING PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT WITH RESEARCH

We are delighted to announce the first issue of Research for All, a ground-breaking open-access journal that focuses on the importance of public engagement to research and provides a platform for creative thinking about how and where academic disciplines meet with real-world problems. Academic analysis, practical commentary and case studies provide critical reflection on how research can be conceived, developed, disseminated and applied in partnership with those not formally involved in the research community. Peer-reviewed contributions, many co-written by academic and non-academic partners, feature engagement in research carried out in any field of study, with collaborators in any chosen community, industry or organization and in any part of the world. Drawing on this rich field, Research for All launches with a bumper issue which, as editors Sophie Duncan and Sandy Oliver explain, introduces readers and prospective contributors to the range of content and thoughtful contributors that will define the journal. Research for All is free to write for and free to read. We invite contributions about engaged research in any area of study at any time. For more information, visit the journal website or contact the managing editor, Pat Gordon-Smith (p.gordon-smith@ucl.ac.uk). Research for All is a collaboration between the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), and is published by UCL IOE Press. Advancing a culture of public engagement is a central commitment for the NCCPE and for UCL.

 

Research for All 1 (1), Jan 2017: CONTENTS

 

FEATURE ARTICLES

 

PRACTICE-RELATED ARTICLES: Devices for engagement

 

PRACTICE-RELATED ARTICLES: Participatory approaches

 

ARTICLES ABOUT CHANGING PEOPLE

 

ARTICLES ABOUT CHANGING INSTITUTIONS

 

BOOK REVIEW

 

We would like to thank the authors and associate editors who have worked so hard on the articles, and hope you enjoy this first issue. The second issue will be published in July 2017.

 

Sophie Duncan (NCCPE) 

Sandy Oliver (UCL Institute of Education)

Editors, Research for All

 

Pat Gordon-Smith

Managing Editor, Journals

UCL IOE Press

07528 275646

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According to The Department of Education, current statistics show that only 15% of primary school teachers in the UK are male.

Dr David Brody, chair of the Early Childhood Department and Academic Dean of the Efrata College of Education in Jerusalem, Israel, is the author of Men Who Teach Young Children: An international perspective. David reveals that the percentage of male teachers in Early Education ranges from 0.0043% in Israel to 11% in Norway.

Men Who Teach Young Children presents biographies of six talented men from Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel and the United States, who have all been working with the youngest children for many years. A cultural lens is used to understand their motivations and reveal the difficulties they faced in choosing the profession, getting trained, working with young children and their parents, and opting to remain in the field.

In an interview for the early childhood website, Storypark, David tells Megan from Mat Time why male teachers are needed in Early Education.

You can watch the interview here:

The role of men in teaching | Dr. David Brody

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Launch of Voices in the Air: Making sense of policy and practice in education by Chris Husbands

UCL IOE Press hosted a book launch party last Monday, celebrating the publication of Chris Husbands’ new book, Voices in the Air.

This dynamic new collection of journalism and policy commentary was written during Professor Husbands’ directorship at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Friends, colleagues and journalists turned up to the launch held at Blackwell’s Bookshop at the IOE.

The evening began with a warm welcome Chris Husbands Book Launchfrom Laura McInerney, the editor of Schools Week. Laura talked about how she picked up the book on her first day of holiday and was in ‘tears – and hysterics’ by the time she got to page 3. A wave of glee rose from the guests as Laura remarked on blog posts covering topics ranging from a 1940s Meccano manual to the case against grammar schools.

Laura concluded by asking, ‘What do school exams and phone hacking have in common?’ She advised the audience to read page 81 to find out.

Following Laura’s amusing presentation, Professor Husbands stepped forward to reflect on the art of blogging and his thoughts and experiences as Director.

Other guests at the launch included Becky Francis, new Director of the UCL Institute of Education, Mary Stiasny, Geoff Whitty, Titus Alexander and Hugh Starkey.

Professor Chris Husbands has been Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University since January 2016. He was Director of the Institute of Education between 2011 and 2015, leading the merger of the IOE with UCL.

Buy now: Voices in the Air

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How do we teach children about modern day issues such as fear of immigrants and terrorism?

By Marie Parker-Jenkins

New arrivals from the Syrian War have placed the footlight on key issues of immigration and identity. For many, identity is multi-faceted but religion can be a key factor. After fleeing war-torn countries, people may wish to unite around their religious community – particularly if the reason for leaving is connected to freedom from religious persecution. This has been the experience of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the recent Middle East conflict.

Reaching In, Reaching Out discusses how parents are attracted by the opportunity for their children to attend a religious school which reflects the values of the home. Dating back to the 19th Century, there has traditionally been state-funded support for Christian schools in the country – later extended to those established by Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. In such institutions there tends to be more consensus about religious instruction, pupil uniform and school curriculum, which serves as a uniting force.

Added to this, the experience of hostility and discrimination from the wider society can reinforce a decision for people to reach in, as the religious school community is seen as a safe haven from racism. Some institutions may be seen as ‘fortress schools’ in terms of needing a high level of security from this external hostility. Although religious communities have different capacities in terms of financial and social capital to mobilize, crucially they aim to provide a secure environment for their pupils. Only from a position of security is a faith school likely to feel comfortable in reaching out to the external community.

Developing mutual respect and tolerance have been strained recently, in part due to the ongoing fear of terrorism. In the UK, Germany and elsewhere there are calls for more national unity as a reaction to these events. Multiculturalism has been judged to have failed and to have encouraged tolerance of the intolerant.

The move to the political right

Far Right politics show a backlash to the recent flow of migrants entering Europe and a fear of immigrants. In the USA, Donald Trump has capitalized on this, expressing what others may be too fearful to say in a ‘politically correct’ society. So dislike of gays, Muslims, women, disabled and Black communities have all featured in his political statements. Such discourse is said to help legitimize violence, a suggested motive in the death of MP Jo Cox prior to the Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, which was significantly influenced by issues of immigration and prejudice, how should we move forward?

We are now confronted by the ‘Prevent’ strategy, designed to stop people become or support terrorists, and the promotion of fundamental ‘British Values in Schools’ as part of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. These policies have replaced the community cohesion and ‘Big Society’ agenda. While the early initiatives focused on all communities, the Prevent and BVS strategies seem to be targeting immigrants and Muslim children in particular, along with a shifting emphasis from learning to live together to preventing and combatting radicalization.

From the Bataclan to the burkini

This sense of unease is felt elsewhere. France particularly has been caught up in debates of immigration, racism and the extent of tolerance towards those who are different. Under French law (1905), the separation of state and religion has led to the development of a secular state which has influence over all aspects of life including choice of dress by religious groups.

If a French House of Fashion introduced beach wear akin to a wetsuit to protect against the elements, it is not likely to be seen as a symbol of terrorism. Yet the use of the burkini or full-cover swimwear has recently led to this allegation, raising issues of gender and choice of dress in the public domain. Ordering Muslim women to take off their clothes at French beaches demonstrates increasing fear, particularly since the Charlie Hebdo shooting and Bataclan attack. People are understandably concerned about national security, but the misguided attempt to ban the burkini was not the way forward.

Unwillingness to integrate in a new society and a desire to have facial covering is perceived as failing to interact and being divisive. This is played out in the media on a daily basis. Muslim women who choose to wear the ‘hijab’ head covering, the ‘niqab’ veil or full gown ‘burqa’ are perceived by some sections of the media as symbolizing terrorism in our midst.

So what is the role of schools in this culture of fear?

Schools are the space where children and young people learn about others; they are not neutral places. Religious school communities claim they do not preach intolerance and that violence and terrorism is antithetical to their beliefs. Yet faith schools and particularly those based on Islamic principles have been singled out as allegedly preaching intolerance.

What should be the position and role of religious schools? Some advocate their abolition, citing them as responsible for the present state of affairs. That is unlikely to happen, not just as a result of a potential backlash from the 11 state-funded Muslim schools in the country, but from Christian and other religious communities which operate nearly six and a half thousand schools.

There is a shift from welcoming minority groups and religious communities to viewing them with suspicion. One of the things we know about young people attracted to terror groups is the lack of belonging. Bridging the gulf between people is through embedded and sophisticated forms of engagement as part of the way forward.

There is responsibility on all sides. Faith schools aim to provide children with a roadmap for their lives but they should not have a license to deny their pupils access to knowledge and appropriate links to the wider society. All schools regardless of their religious character need to make efforts to connect with and engage on behalf of their pupils.  There are a range of possibilities as shown in the book: not for pupils to be in competition, like at sports events, but in cooperation, to work with and learn from each other.

In our lifetime this has never been more vital as we help support young people’s fear of others, played out in the media – and at times expressed in the schoolyard.

Importantly, fear should be dealt with by talk, opening up age-appropriate dialogue and providing opportunities to learn positively about people outside your own religious or non-religious group.

Marie Parker-Jenkins is Professor of Education in the Department of Education and Professional Studies at the University of Limerick, researching issues of social justice with particular reference to ‘race’ and ethnicity. Before having an academic career in the UK, she lectured in Bermuda, Canada and Australia where she obtained practical knowledge of children from culturally diverse backgrounds. She is the author of over 100 publications including books, reports, conference and journal articles. Her research has included study of the expansion of religious schools, particularly those based on an Islamic ethos; and in her consultancy capacity, she has provided workshops on such subjects as citizenship, community and social identity. She has taught in five universities before coming to Limerick, and her current research is concerned with responding to diversity within the Irish context.

Buy Reaching In, Reaching Out: Faith schools, community engagement, and 21st-century skills for intercultural understanding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Michael White (Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster) and Alex Bryson (University College London, a.bryson@ucl.ac.uk).

Has the employment of non-UK workers – particularly those from the European Union – reduced wages in Britain, and if so, by how much? Could restrictions on the employment of EU workers benefit British employees by driving their wages up?

Our research shows that:

  • The reduction in wages when using EEA workers (most of whom are from the EU) is quite small
  • Any wage rise from a restriction on EU workers could be cancelled out by using the same numbers of temporary or agency workers. These have virtually the same small effect in reducing wages as does the use of EU workers.
  • Wage reductions are considerably greater where employers use workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), than when they use EEA workers. Substitution of EEA workers by non-EEA workers, if allowed by future UK governments, could drive wages down.

The background

One of the arguments put forward on the Brexit side of the Referendum debate is that the current employment of EU nationals, who have the right of free movement in the EU, pushes down wages. So by restricting the employment of workers from the EU, workers’ wages can be increased.

The economic argument is straightforward: with fewer people available for jobs, firms have to increase their wage offers to get workers (at least in the short run).

The evidence

We use information about workplace employment and wages provided by managers responsible for personnel, as part of the Workplace Employment Relations Survey of 2011. This survey is representative of British workplaces with at least 5 employees.

We analyse information from 2100 workplaces, both private sector and public sector.

From the information supplied, we calculate the median average wage for each workplace. This is the ‘middle’ wage that has half the employees earning more and half earning less.

We also have information about the numbers of EEA workers and other non-UK workers who were employed at each workplace. (The EEA comprises all the EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.)

The analysis

We analyse how much the average workplace wage varies depending on the proportion of total workplace jobs filled by EEA and by non-EEA workers from outside the UK.

We take account of many other factors that influence the average wage, using standard statistical methods to adjust the figures appropriately.  Details are given in our technical note appended.

Key results

Employers drawing 10% of their employees from the EEA pay an average wage that is 0.75% less than a similar employer with no EEA workers. This estimate includes both the private and public sectors.

  • The estimate of the wage reduction could arise by chance 1 in 16 times and so is not fully reliable.
  • Taking it at face value, however, the difference amounts to about £3.90 per week for a full-time employee at the present average wage level (which is about £530 per week).
  • There is a larger difference in the wage when an employer employs workers from outside the EEA. Filling 10% of jobs with these non-EEA workers, the employer can expect the average wage to be 1.9% lower compared with a similar employer having no non-EEA workers.
  • The estimate for the non-EEA effect on the average wage is highly reliable, as it would arise by chance less than 1 in 100 times.

The results in perspective

If it was made difficult to employ overseas EU workers, employers would look elsewhere to fill the gap. One obvious way of doing so would be to employ people on temporary or agency contracts.

The effect of EEA employment in reducing average wages is virtually identical to the effect of employing people on temporary or agency contracts.

If the reduction in EEA employment was matched by a corresponding increase in temporary or agency contracts, the net effect on wages would be nil.

Another option for employers facing reduced opportunities to recruit from the EU/EEA would be to increase recruitment from non-EEA countries. Our results indicate that this would lead to a larger reduction in average wages.

Where cuts in EU employment would bite

Cuts in EU or EEA employment would disproportionately affect those workplaces currently employing them in large numbers.

In 2011, only 15% of workplaces had EEA workers filling 10% or more of their jobs.

So the majority of workplaces would feel little pressure to increase wages if the recruitment of EEA workers was limited, because they already do not rely on this source.

The workplace average of EEA employment, as a proportion of total jobs, is 19% for hotels and catering, for manufacturing 8%, for business services 7% and for health 7%. These are the industries that would feel most pressure if EEA recruitment was restricted.

But hotels and catering, business services and health already get substantial proportions of their workforce from overseas non-EEA countries, and are therefore well-placed to increase recruitment from those sources (unless restricted by government).

Conclusions

The contention that employment of EU workers pushes down British wages substantially is not supported. Instead, the effect is rather small and weak – especially if compared with the effect of employing non-EEA workers.

Restricting the employment of EU workers would raise British wages only if employers could not find equally inexpensive recruitment sources. But British employers already use temporary and agency contracts to fill workforce gaps, and in some industries they already use many non-EEA overseas workers as well. These sources provide alternatives to employing EU workers and could lead to still lower average wages for British workers.

A technical note providing further details of the analysis is available to download.

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Launch of Learning in Womanist Ways by Jan Etienne

Trentham Books at UCL IOE Press hosted a packed seminar and book launch party recently with around 200 movers and shakers from the African Caribbean community and beyond.

Learning in Womanist Ways presents theatrical scenes telling the true stories of first-generation African Caribbean women and their experiences of lifelong learning. The launch kicked off with a seminar at Birkbeck discussing themes of the book. On the discussion panel were Heidi Safia Mirza, an internationally renowned professor of race, faith and culture, and Dr Roz Dixon, Assistant Dean and Pro-Vice-Master at Birkbeck.

After the seminar, there was a launch party at the UCL Institute of Education featuring introductions from writer Fyna Dowe, Trentham publisher Gillian Klein and Dawn Butler, MP Brent Central. This was followed with readings from Dawn Joseph, Hurmine Dormer Dobson, Palmela Witter and Ninia Benjamin.

A comedian and actress best known for her role in hit TV show 3 Non-Blondes, Ninia Benjamin read an excerpt from the book of an interview with Alphena, a 61-year-old community volunteer tutor passionate about teaching French Creole patois:

You know it’s never too late to learn. We have a language which is slowly dying because our parents failed to see its significance, especially those misguided parents who come to build up this big country … My father is a Dominican and my mother was from St Lucia and she would Mamaguise me all the time to turn me away from speaking patois. But growing up I know it was part of my identity and made sure patois was part of my vocabulary. It never left me. (p. 136)

After the readings, author Jan Etienne spoke of her experiences interviewing over 100 women across 11 UK cities for the book, and her efforts to capture the nature of Caribbean womanist learning, a black feminist perspective where women provoke, coerce and challenge each other in a way that generates confidences and inspires others. Her work reveals the social and cultural identities brought to lifelong learning, illustrating solidarity in Caribbean sisterhood as black women find ways to rise above the challenges presented by learning in a climate of uncertainty in which cuts to public services impact on their daily lives.

The party continued as queues to buy copies of the book and have it signed by Jan Etienne snaked round the room, while other guests enjoyed rum punch and Jamaican patties.

[Videography by Wood Green Films]