Posted by & filed under Author blogs, News.

By Phil Stevens

One of adult learning’s most respected figures retires this summer after 40 years of dedication to the sector, firstly as a mature student, then a teacher, and finally as Principal of the Northern College in Barnsley, one of the most prestigious adult centres in the UK. We can ill-afford to lose people of the calibre of Jill Westerman, TES FE Lifetime Award winner, who spent her career fighting for the rights of adults to have access to high quality learning.

Westerman is in a long tradition of fine figures who have defended adult learning against a punitive financial environment and political interference. Fred ingles, cultural theorist and great defender of our strange expensive institution describes adult education as:

… one of the most impressive achievements not only of national education but also of the nation’s democracy.

There are few more qualified witnesses than Ingles, biographer of Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart. Jill Westerman, and others like her, have both protected and extended the enormous success of adult learning over its 150 years history. Her career is testament to her commitment to the cause. Progressing from community work on a Hackney housing estate, to teaching literacy and numeracy in London, she moved to Barnsley and the Northern College where she flourished. In this sense she is in a line that runs from RH Tawney, Hoggart and Williams who dedicated their lives to what Ingles refers to as our militant tradition. These towering figures were no functionary bureaucrats but had years of experience teaching adults before producing a small library of books between them. Unlike these legendary adult educators, Westerman did not produce a body of writing to support her exemplary vision. As Principal of one of the busiest adult centres in the country she would have hardly had the time. But impending retirement has given her the opportunity to share some thoughts on the future of adult education.

In the TES (24 June 2018) Jill Westerman outlined what she believes are grounds of optimism for the future of AE. In an article to mark her retirement the Principal of the Northern College reflects on her time in adult learning, which despite the austere climate in which it operates, continues to illuminate our culture and society with its far-reaching and gentle light. What is interesting, and which links her to her distinguished predecessors is her thoughts on the aims of adult learning. It is this that provide her grounds for optimism.

Westerman’s glimmers of hope are based around her claims that adult learning can promote and extend social cohesion and social mobility. The claim that adult education can create social capital is held by many teachers, managers and policy-makers, particularly in inner-city areas where social divisions are most apparent. Outreach teams have been assembled to find common ground among disparate sections of our cities. Building on the idea of social cohesion being one of the most pressing aims of adult learning, Westerman further argues that the divisions in the country revealed by Brexit have triggered what she sees as a renaissance of this kind of work. These are grand claims for the sector. Should adult learning with its image of primary school classrooms, working men’s institutions, and echoing upstairs rooms in pubs have a moral duty to try to help resolve the problems of our troubled towns and cities? And, lastly, is Westerman right to be so optimistic?

In The Long Revolution, Raymond Williams argues that the modern British education system acts like a ladder. People go up one at a time, often pulling the ladder up after them. Nothing much has changed in the 35 years since Williams’s book was published that would challenge his account. The former Cambridge Professor of Drama proposed an alternative view that education should be seen more as a broad highway through which we travel together in a collective endeavour. This seems to be how Westerman sees adult learning today and in the future: as a guiding principle for programming, curriculum design and pedagogical innovation.

During the research for my book Rita and Gerald: adult learning in Britain today (2014) I discovered some outstanding examples of attempts to promote community learning and build social capital. One example should suffice. The Mary Ward Centre in Camden have an outreach team who work with diverse ethnic groups, health professionals and community activists. Their aim is to bring together diverse section of the community around adult and family learning, in this case through art. The project culminated with a colourful exhibition and activity day at the British Museum. I think Jill Westerman would have applauded the Mary Ward team’s efforts. And, of course, there are many other examples.

These projects are not simply community events, they are very much learning activities, expensive to organise and funded from income attracted by individual students on the project completing a programme of learning. The success of programmes like those at Mary Ward are what gives Westerman her optimism for the future of the sector. The aim of community learning is to liaise with external agencies and community groups to help ease tension in disparate communities and give individuals the time and space to develop. In this sense she is right, there is real potential for creative adult learning programmes that give purpose and hope to disadvantaged communities with a complex set of needs and aspirations. On the issue of divisions caused by Brexit I am less certain – this seems both too early and too ambitious even for the most creative of our adult educators.

Fred Ingles argues that adult learning makes the connection between individual sensibilities and formal arrangements for learning and scholarship, and of the moral imagination of society and life itself. This has been the triumph of our work, but the political and cultural advances of the past 150 years are in real danger of being lost. The processes of self-education and democratic access, typified by the heroic work of The Open University, are under threat. Adult learning is a vital resource of hope for communities and neighbourhoods up and down the country and is needed now as much as ever. At this time, we can ill afford to lose people of Westerman’s stature.

To mark her retirement the Principal of the Northern college calls for rigorous long-term planning for the sector in which her ideas can play out. We can sense her enthusiasm when she calls for:

… a national adult education strategy that thought 10, 20, 30 40 years ahead and looked at things like demographics, disadvantage, labour market needs, social needs, and the needs of an ageing population … a real coherent strategy.

It is too easy to be cynical and say, good luck with that. But Westerman’s optimism must be seen at a time when funding for adult learning has been cut to the bone and LEAs have lost the will and the means to support a service which was once a jewel in their crown. But she is to be applauded for leaving on a hopeful note – why not? She might have also issued a warning about the future of the sector, but that’s not her style. One might hope that this most energetic and thoughtful practitioner should be given the job of developing the strategy she so eloquently argues for the glimmers of hope she recognises grow into full maturity. It would be a fitting testimony to her contribution to the noble tradition and to an exemplary career.

 

Bibliography:

Stevens, P. Rita and Gerald: adult learning in Britain today (2014) Trentham Books/IOE Press

Times Educational Supplement (24 June 2018)

Williams, R. The Long Revolution (1961) Penguin Books

Posted by & filed under Author blogs, New books.

By Amanda Arbouin

How can universities tackle insidious racism in a meaningful and effective way? This question is at the heart of my book, Black British Graduates: untold stories[i], which explores the educational journeys and career outcomes of ten Black British graduates.

Participant narratives convey a richness of emotions, as the book [ii]considers the impact of race, class and gender in education and graduate careers. Drawing on the accounts of these educational successes, I highlight some of the key features that help or hinder Black learners along their way.

Despite a promising start to their educational journeys, most of my respondents left school with few useful qualifications. However, a combination of serendipity and stepping stones led them to higher education, where they encountered a range of positive and negative influences.

The absence of diversity in academic staff and curriculum were strong themes. The reluctance of universities to address such issues in any robust way was recently the focus of the BBC news article ‘University racism ‘complacency’ warning’[iii]. Black British academic staff are grossly under-represented and tend to be concentrated in insecure, part time contracts at the lower levels of organisational hierarchies.

Black British students are over-represented in higher education, but under-represented in the most prestigious institutions, where they are less likely to be offered a place than white applicants with the same grades (Boliver, 2013?)[iv]. Blind marking has never become standard in universities and so it’s perhaps no surprise that Black students are less likely to graduate with ‘good’ degrees and less likely to be satisfied with their educational experiences. At the same time, the curriculum in higher education is extremely Eurocentric, perpetuating a colonial mentality and largely excluding the values and contributions of thinkers of colour.

So what can universities do to effect real change? In a word, they need to invest. Invest in recruiting Black educators; invest in training all educators to raise their awareness of the impact of race; and invest in developing a decolonised curriculum.

Whenever I have asked white educational recruiters why they don’t have more black staff, the standard response is along the lines of:

  1. ‘we don’t get enough black applicants’ or
  2. ‘we have to recruit the best person for the job’.

The sub-text for standard response (2) is that Black applicants are just not good enough. However, when we look at the statistics (and listen to participants’ narratives) relating to Black professionals they tell another story.

There are ever growing numbers of minoritized graduates, because there is an over-representation of students from all minoritized backgrounds in higher education (ECU, 2014)[v]. Yet unemployment rates for minorities are ‘significantly higher’ than for whites (EHRC, 2015)[vi] and Black graduates are often overqualified for the jobs they are able to get.

Black workers have also experienced the biggest pay drop in these times of austerity. The TUC (2016)[vii] notes that minoritized graduates earn 10% less than their white counterparts and Black graduates earn a whopping 23% less than similarly qualified white workers. In effect, the more qualified Black workers are, the bigger the pay gap.

Turning to standard response (1), The McGregor Smith Review ‘Race in the workplace’[viii] identifies steps recruiters can take to tackle this issue. Firstly, employers can use diversity recruitment agencies, who specialise in identifying high calibre applicants from minoritized backgrounds. Secondly, they can use diverse interview panels, as recruiters tend to look more favourably upon people with whom they identify. Thirdly, they can set themselves diversity recruitment targets and then monitor and review them on a regular basis to ensure that they are eventually met.

Investing in ongoing training for recruiters and educators can instigate lasting change. This training should focus on raising their awareness of (a) the impact of racial and cultural difference among students and employees; (b) how inequality is perpetuated; and (c) their own unconscious bias. This would improve the diversity of higher education environments and simultaneously challenge some of the pejorative stereotypes that hinder Black learners’ entry to and progress within HEIs. As one of my research participants put it, ‘There’s a need for change in how we’re educated, because we’re in a system that doesn’t say anything positive about Black people’.

This leads me to the curriculum. Investing time and money in to developing a decolonised curriculum would demonstrate real commitment to challenging racism at a much deeper level. University departments could employ researchers to integrate non-European values across all disciplines and at all levels of the education system. My research[ix] identified a desire, particularly among the women, to pursue research relating to Black communities. Universities could harness this desire by applying the same principles they do for scientific research – that is, by advertising and funding it.

This would serve to tackle the insidious nature of racism, as consistently including minoritized cultures in education would convey the message that they are just as valuable and important as white Western cultures. Implementing change of this kind in higher education would inevitably filter down into compulsory education, because school teachers learn their trade in universities. They pass their knowledge on to young learners in schools, who are obliged to go through the education system. As such, a decolonised curriculum would gradually improve people’s appreciation of minoritized cultures at a societal level.

It is incumbent upon our education system to tackle racism in every way possible, because of its central position in all of our lives. Our universities are engines for the creation of knowledge in our society and must take the lead in committing to change at a strategic level. By adopting a joined up approach they have the capacity to help create a more harmonious and progressive Britain.

 

Acknowledgement excerpt from the book:

Inspiration for the book’s subtitle, ‘Untold stories’, came from one of my favourite songs by the Jamaican reggae artist Buju Banton. Every time I hear his words ‘What is to stop the youths from get out of control, Full up of education yet no own no payroll’, I grieve for the many black graduates in the UK who, despite playing by the rules, find themselves struggling to reap the rewards in a society that continues to stack the odds against them. I dedicate this book to them and all those who seek to redress the balance by striving for social justice.

[i] Arbouin, A (2018. Black British Graduates: untold stories. London: UCL Institute of Education Press.

[ii] Arbouin, A (2018. Black British Graduates: untold stories. London: UCL Institute of Education Press

[iii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-44125777

[iv] Boliver, V. (2013) ‘How fair is access to more prestigious UK universities?’. British Journal of Sociology, 64 (2), 344–64.

[v] ECU (Equality Challenge Unit) (2014) Equality in Higher Education: Statistical report 2014. London: Equality Challenge Unit. Online. www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/equality-higher-education-statistical-report-2014/ (accessed 18 August 2017).

[vi] EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) (2015) Is Britain Fairer? The state of equality and human rights 2015. London: Equality and Human Rights Commission. Online. www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/britain-fairer (accessed 8 April 2017).

[vii] TUC (Trades Union Congress) (2016) ‘Black workers with degrees earn a quarter less than white counterparts, finds TUC’. Press release, 1 February. Online. www.tuc.org.uk/equality-issues/black-workers/labour-market/black-workers-degrees-earn-quarter-less-white (accessed 24 January 2017).

[viii] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/594336/race-in-workplace-mcgregor-smith-review.pdf

[ix] Arbouin, A (2018. Black British Graduates: untold stories. London: UCL Institute of Education Press.

Posted by & filed under Author blogs.

By Deborah Gabriel

As a Black female academic, I welcome comments by Baroness Amos on the scale of institutionalized racism in the higher education sector, evidenced by the lack of Black academics in senior roles and the attainment gap affecting Black students, reported by BBC News.

Baroness Amos captures the mood succinctly, referring to the anger and frustration among Black students and academics at these long-standing disparities. However, as the Founder of Black British Academics, it is my belief that complacency is not the sole factor in the lack of progress on race equality. Baroness Amos speaks of “deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes which need to be overcome.” I would add to that the prevalence of a deep-rooted indifference to racial inequality that is directly attributable to White privilege, and a form of anti-Black, gendered racism.  

One of the disparities highlighted in the BBC news story is the lack of Black  in senior roles. It’s not clear which academic year the data refers to, which states that there are only 110 Black professors out of around 18,000. Figures I previously obtained from the HEIDI database, show that for the 2014/15 academic year, out of 19,630 professors, only 110 are Black – and of these just 30 are Black women.

The issue of anti-Black, gendered racism is very real and yet the marginalisation, exclusion and under-valuing of Black women in academia is rendered invisible and ignored in public debate on gender equality. Writing in the Times Higher in February 2017, Laurie Cohen and Jo Duberley bemoan that “just 24 per cent of UK professors are women. That is a deplorable statistic for a sector that purports to champion diversity and inclusion.” Yet they completely ignore the more deplorable reality that just 0.15% of UK professors are Black women. Such prioritising of White interests characterises the indifference with which many White academics treat racial inequality, even whilst denouncing other forms of discrimination.

One dimension of White privilege is the power of being Colour-blind – ignoring the impact of race and how it creates disadvantage for people of colour, which is felt most acutely by people of African descent – as evidenced by the attainment gap among Black students and the lack of Black academics (especially women) in senior roles.

The thorny issue of White privilege is strategically side-stepped through concepts used in equality and diversity circles like ‘unconscious bias’, through claims that it doesn’t equate to ‘racism’ since the routine privileging of White interests is purely unintentional. Injustice and oppression do not cease to exist because they are masked by benign phrases; they are all too visible and deeply felt by those who experience them.

White privilege and anti-Black gendered racism manifests in a variety of ways, from overt displays of prejudice, stereotyping, dehumanisation, exclusion, and sexual abuse, to more complex and subtle examples, that whether deliberate, purposeful or unintentional, have real consequences for Black women – and there must be accountability for these failings, as well as concrete actions to address them.

Tackling anti-Black gendered racism requires critical understandings of the nature and complexity of this specific form of discrimination, and the agency to effect change. Both are accessible through the first Black British Academics publication: Inside the Ivory Tower: Narratives of Women of Colour Surviving and Thriving in British Academia. Preliminary findings of quantitative data collected from readers suggest that senior White operational and academic staff engage well with the lived experiences of women of colour and learn much more about White privilege and raced/gendered inequality than statistics alone reveal.

The higher education sector needs ‘critical leaders’ at the helm of higher education institutions, in faculties, schools and departments and also within the Office for Students and Advance HE. Critical leaders do not merely comment on racial inequality and its persistence but work collaboratively with stakeholders like Black British Academics to develop solutions. 

​Deborah Gabriel is a senior lecturer at Bournemouth University in the Faculty of Media and Communication.

Posted by & filed under News.

Tamsyn Imison was head of Hampstead School from 1984 to 2000. In 1998 she was one of the first two headteachers to be awarded the DBE by Tony Blair’s government. She was a passionate advocate for comprehensive education, believing in the potential for everyone to succeed in learning and life – that ‘all geese can be swans’, as she put it; that every child matters and has the right to be equal but different; and that the best possible education should be available to all children in their local community.

The book about the school, which she co-edited with Liz Williams and Ruth Heilbronn, Comprehensive Achievements: all our geese are swans was published by Trentham Books at IOE Press in 2014.

There follows a brief obituary drawn from John Dunford’s for the ASCL journal (for which she was a consultant in the 2000s).

Dame Tamsyn read science at Oxford University, but was expelled once she married Michael, taking up art at the Ruskin School and later moving to Queen Mary College, London, to read natural sciences. Her first job was as a scientific illustrator before she qualified as a science teacher at the age of 35.

As head of Hampstead School, a comprehensive school in Cricklewood in London, she was a leader in arts education, information technology and professional development, among other things, with many staff on an innovative Masters’ degree programme she devised with the Institute of Education. Fourteen Hampstead staff went on to be heads themselves. As a polymath herself, she believed in, and implemented, a truly broad and balanced curriculum and her networking skills were legendary. The school’s students established a charity, Children of the Storm, which provided food, clothes and emotional support to refugee children. She was a passionate lifelong advocate for comprehensive education and fervently opposed to selection but she was also active in the Girls’ School Association and a council member of a local fee-paying school.

 

Posted by & filed under Author blogs.

By David Scott

There have recently been calls to adopt approaches to the study of the social world that deny the need to address ontological and epistemological issues. Advocates for these approaches give the impression that they are operating outside of and in opposition to philosophical framings about the nature of the world and how it can be known. They are being disingenuous, since reality, as we know it, is always concept-dependent. Their purpose is to support and strengthen a particular ideological view of human behaviour, which favours those forms of research and judgement that can be described as empiricist and technicist. Ontological and epistemological beliefs, then, underpin the development and use of strategies and methods by empirical researchers. In contrast, proponents of a pragmatic position – using this term in its ordinary language sense – argue that it is possible to separate out these beliefs from the adoption of methods and strategies. These methods and strategies are determined by how useful they are, and even by whether they are fit for purpose. This is not a coherent position to take.

‘A proper examination of these social categories is an essential starting point for understanding how equalities and inequalities are formed and how they operate in modern England.’

Knowledge about, for example, the social categories of gender, race, religion, dis-ability, intelligence, sexuality and class are always framed by sets of ideas and moral ordinances, and as a consequence should not be treated unproblematically, as it frequently is by politicians, journalists and many academics, not least in the field of education. This is what our newly published book, Equalities and Inequalities in the English Education System (Trentham Books, 2018), is about. The book is an exercise in knowledge-development, and it seeks to shed light on the workings of these social categories, because a proper examination of them is an essential starting point for understanding how equalities and inequalities are formed and how they operate in modern England. These categories are discursive constructions. However, what needs to be said time and time again is that a discursive construction can never be a simple determinant of identity, behaviour or action. Discourses are structured in a variety of ways, and both this meta-structuring and the forms it produces are relative to time and place. This meta-structuring refers to constructs such as generality, performativity, reference, value, binary opposition, representation and legitimacy.

Nothing in this book proscribes a social dimension to the development of knowledge, and in turn our contention is that this has to be carefully recorded by those committed to some form of truthful enquiry. Research, which is the principal mechanism for knowledge-development, is both descriptive (understood in a non-representationalist way) and developmental and prescriptive – that is, it both gives an account of reality and in the process changes the nature of that reality, though not in every instance. It redescribes and reformulates the object of the investigation, and in some cases this is quite clearly its intention. It is incumbent on us, however, to treat all knowledge development as work in progress, as the philosopher Karl Popper was inclined to do.

All the ideas expressed here are discussed in greater detail in Scott D and Scott B (2018) Equalities and Inequalities in the English Education System, London: Trentham Books.

David Scott is professor of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment at University College London, Institute of Education. His most recent books are: Scott D and Scott B (2018) Equalities and Inequalities in the English Education System, London: Trentham Books; Leaton-Gray S, Scott D and Mehisto P (2017) The European School System, London: Macmillan Palgrave; Scott D, Posner C, Martin C and Guzman E (2017) The Mexican Education System, London: University College London Press; Scott D (2016) Education Systems and Learners: Knowledge and Knowers, London: Macmillan Palgrave; Scott D, Husbands C, Slee R, Wilkins R and Terano M (2015) Policy Transfer and Educational Change, London: SAGE; Scott D (2015) Roy Bhaskar: A Theory of Education, Dordrecht: Springer International; Scott D (2015) New Perspectives on Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, Cham: Springer; and Scott D and Hargreaves E (2015) Sage Handbook on Learning, London: Sage.

Published on the BERA blog on the 28th March 2018. For all the BERA blogs, upcoming events on every aspect of educational research and how to submit a blog visit https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog

 

 

Posted by & filed under Author blogs, New books.

By Linda Milbourne and Ursula Murray

Civil Society Organisations in turbulent times’ highlights the central theme in this recently published book and its focus on rapidly changing times. The political turmoil surrounding us during its completion has only served to accentuate this message: the 2016 EU referendum, a snap election, a new Conservative government, and the US presidential elections, with governments seemingly unmoved by austerity, health or housing crises experienced by large numbers of the population. Significant changes, including a rise in populist and anti-establishment movements form a turbulent backcloth for issues explored in the book, highlighting the challenges and acute dilemmas now facing civil society and voluntary organisations.

The book starts allegorically, underlining the potential entrapment implied by A Gilded Web?

‘All that glitters is not gold.’ Familiar …fairy tales encourage us to adopt ethical behaviours. Yet current society promotes the idea that we should chase all that promises gold. These allegorical stories invariably illustrate that entrapment, whether in a web of deceit an impenetrable forest, or a prison with no doors, follows from this pursuit of mythical gold, which also turns out to be worthless. In the stories, escape …from an elaborately woven web is sometimes achieved via a magic wand.’

But this book is no fairy tale. It is about real society and people, and specifically, civil society organisations ‘finding ways back to ethical paths in turbulent times’.

Lured into dangerous liaisons

A growing culture of competition in society and the loss of care and altruism among civil society organisations delivering what should be ‘welfare’ services, are key issues explored in the book. Different chapters highlight the complicity of many ‘welfare’ service providers in current arrangements, now motivated more by growth and resource acquisition than altruistic motivation, so that they are no longer fit for charitable purpose. This raises questions about the extent to which larger charities and voluntary service organisations will ‘wake up’ and challenge their current compliance in competitive, contract driven cultures and form part of emerging challenges.

Equally, questions about the loss of democratic freedoms to speak out or act freely – now restricted by law, contracts and ideology – emerge from the different studies presented, and lead to questions about the increasingly punitive nature of recent neo-liberal governments. These growing restrictions on civil society freedoms in the UK resonate internationally with concerns about (albeit harsher) infringements on freedom of voice, movement and actions around the world, which are often, mistakenly, regarded as separate.

While much of the book’s research paints a negative picture of the effects of changes on contemporary civil society organisations and their powers to effect social change, not all is doom and gloom, and later chapters discuss how workers’ unhappiness with the way things are, is starting to prompt questions and criticism. Later chapters also identify a rekindling of movements seeking change, with dissent growing in groups that cross generations and in broad alliances. While the book explores the forms of this growing resistance emerging, it also challenges assumptions that civil society organisations are necessarily benign, providing evidence from recent and past history of socially damaging and exclusionary movements.

How is this book different?

The book draws on a series of studies which explore diverse service fields, large and small organisations, infrastructure and grassroots organisations, campaign, black-led, women’s and faith based groups. It also explores possibilities for challenge and alternatives to dominant arrangements. The book illustrates a rare pedagogic achievement in involving chapters written by eight of the editors’ post-graduate students, who were simultaneously practitioners, researchers and authors. The range and depth of information from these chapters, which together include some 30 case studies and over 70 participants, make for powerful insights into the complexity of experiences that the book explores.

It also differs from most research and writing in this field by adopting a critical approach to studying the actions and behaviours of civil society organisations. Equally, it challenges the separation of research on civil society organisations engaged in delivering services and that on grassroots groups and wider social action, arguing that this narrows the frame for analysing and criticising what’s currently taking place. This means that the book draws on a much wider range of theory than is often applied to studying the UK voluntary sector, locating organisations within wider political, social and economic changes in society. This led the key authors to ask what has happened to ideas of altruism and the voluntary sector’s ethical roots, also prompting a discussion of the conflicting roles that organisations adopt – whether conforming or confronting dominant arrangements – engaging in dangerous liaisons or seeking alternatives.

Reimagining 21st century civil society roles?

The book has broken new ground its field, with fundamental questions about the roles and directions civil society organisations should take if they’re to be part of a more just society, contributing to a more caring and less individualised future world.

In the 21st century we’re in danger of losing sight of the reasons for sharing, rather than individualising, wealth, advantages and wellbeing across society: in part, wealth is socially, not individually, created, and wider wellbeing across a population creates a healthier, safer and more economically productive society as a whole. This book reminds us that there are alternatives and that civil society has a crucial role in seeking these. As it argues in closing, if we omit to make these connections between civil society organizations and wider social conditions, we narrow the value of research and writing and exclude crucial debates and experiences that are currently challenging society – especially concerning the erosion of democracy, wellbeing and freedoms. Unlike fairy tales, there will be no magical rescue.

Buy now: Civil Society Organizations in Turbulent Times: A gilded web?  edited by Linda Milbourne and Ursula Murray.

 

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Congratulations to our authors!

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our book – Guiding Readers: Layers of Meaning by Wayne Tennent, David Reedy, Angela Hobsbaum and Nikki Gamble – is the winner of the UKLA’s 2017 Academic Book Award!

9781782771821

 

‘The committee was impressed by the level of scholarship and the clarity of the summary of research evidence on reading comprehension. The chapter on text selection was seen as an important and distinctive element. We felt that the book redefined ‘guiding’ in the context of reading and reading comprehension, and that this was illustrated in a thorough and detailed manner. No doubt about it, this book is a prize-winner!’

We would like to thank the chair, Guy Merchant, and all the members of the panel for this wonderful appraisal and very much look forward to celebrating this prize-winning book at the UKLA International Conference, June 30th – July 2nd in Glasgow.

Buy the winning book

Read the UKLA press release

View the 2017 Shortlists

 

 

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.

 

9781858567952

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.

Posted by & filed under News.

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

Posted by & filed under News.

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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