Education & the riots

09 Aug 2011

I liked this post on 'what happens after the riots?' from the education expert and Senior Associate at the Innovation Unit, David Price OBE. Lots of good points, which I thought worth sharing as a thought-provoking, non knee-jerk response to the way ahead once the immediate policing issues are resolved. His answer: involving young people in decisions about their education and communities.

In particular, he writes:

'David Cameron's vision of a 'Big Society' went up in smoke this week, alongside scores of buildings and homes, so we'll need another big 'post riot' idea. I would like to nominate one: a national education debate on what we want our young people to learn in school. Because the disengagement for many of these young people begins in school, when their interest in learning is sacrificed in pursuit of high-stakes testing and the attendant 'drilling-and-killing', worksheets instead of work experience, doing learning to them, not with them; when the very notion of a 'values-driven curriculum' is seen as dangerous left-wing nonsense, and the dominance of academic knowledge has driven out any respect for schools whose kids wanted to learn real-life, practical skills.'

Here's the link to the full post:

User Comments

Rebecca Hanson - 09 Aug 2011

What big society?

I don't think David Cameron was ever convincing in his description of his own vision.
Which is pretty criminal because there was a real opportunity here. He just clearly didn't understand the society around him.

Yes as a society we should discuss what we want from education.

Jan Chambers - 10 Aug 2011

David Price post

Thanks for flagging up the David Price post. I particularly agreed with the last paragraph, "Anyone who thinks that, by arguing against the hegemony of academic knowledge acquisition, we're depriving lower-income kids of the escape route to Oxbridge, needs to get out on the streets of our major cities and talk to them. Forcing these kids to learn a modern foreign language, or recite Shakespeare, or Milton, simply because a few academics think it's important is naïve, patronising and perpetuating the status quo of the disenfranchised learner. Meeting these kids where they're at (and that's currently in a literally terrifying place) demands that we ask them what they want to learn, what skills will give them hope for the future, and how to re-connect them with their communities."
I still fail to understand the commitment that politicians in particular have for an education system and curriculum that has its origins in the 17th century. It may well have been fit for purpose then but it sure isn’t now. The same point can be made about the obsession with everyone going to university. Not sure if this also has links with the British snobbery about trade versus academia but I know that the received view is that achieving a successful apprenticeship comes a poor second to even a poor second from a newly created university (or ‘uni’ as they seem to have been renamed).

Peter Asquith-Cowen - 10 Aug 2011

Education and the Riots.

Hi Mike,
There is no justification for the carnage, mayhem, violence and wanton destruction we have seen on the streets of England (*note: NOT Britain!)these past four days. I listened to the Education Secretary Michael Gove wittering on this morning. I agree with Rebecca Hanson. I don't think Gove 'has a clue what to do' and I also think the PM comes from such a privileged, wealthy background, it is impossible for him to see, recognise or understand the amount of poverty (in all its forms) that are around in a brokem, dysfunctional society like Britain today. His policies will need a radical re-think and many 'U Turns' will have to be made. The public are "unconvinced" of the need for austerity measure with savage 'cuts' to essential public services. David Price is correct. Cameron's view of his "Big Society" has gone up in flames. it was an insincere maxim anyway. A smoke-screen to hid his policies of "Cut, cut,cut!" This has been embarrassingly brought home to him yesterday. What is so hypocritical is that he has committed billions 9(not millions) to the Middle-East and Africa, while neglected the British people. If he can afford to throw away vast amounts of money to foreign countries, then he can afford to maintain, re-inforce and support the Essential Public Services. This is pure Tory ideology in practice and it has come home to roost with disasterous consequences for the people of England. In terms of Education. Many young people have seen the Education Maintenance Grant extinquished.Nick Clegg augured an unbelievable storm of protest by students late last year. He is seen as a 'Traitor' and the recent Glasgow bi-election gives us a taste of what will happen to the Lib/Dems come the next General Election. People won't forget, and the students won't forget either. Too much Government interference in Education has been the case since the introduction of the National Curriculum. In may area (East Yorkshire) many headteachers have taken early retirement, and there is a problem to find others willing to replace them. Teaching today must be horrendous! We've lost sight of what most young people need. They need to read, spell, understand grammar and English usage; that's laudable, but the bad language expressed on televesion undermines the teacher's task. Poor parenting didn't exist in my day on the whole. Children need to be recognised from an early age. Loved and encouraged by caring, loving parents. Thinking of the sad case of 'Baby P' what chance have some kids got? Poor little mites. My dog, "Buster" probably gets more love, care and cuddles than many kids. My heart bleeds for them. I had a happy childhood. Not much money, but plenty of love and Mum was always there when I came home from school. I still remember my bed-time stories (I was 61 on Monday last) and strongly believe until we have stable, caring loving families all the money in the world won't get things right. Stable employment would help, but the middle and upper classes seem to do better than the poorer, less articulate people. How to get them out of this mire is the 'Thousand Dollar Question' however, in ancient times people seem to have managed educating their children. I don't think the Romans need lessons in parenting, nor people in the middle-ages. Something has gone seriously wrong with our society, and much of this is being reflected in our classrooms today.
From: Peter.

Iftikhar Ahmad - 10 Aug 2011

Education of Minority Children

Since there is criminality among politicians, the press, the police, the private investigators, the priests, etc, do we imagine the looters remain 'uninspired' by such public role models?

We are reaping what we have sown. Our secular, evolution-based culture, driven by the prophets Darwin and Dawkins. We are witnessing the horrors of humanism. Secularism has poisoned the society. With pornography and promiscuity no longer frowned upon, infidelity, marital breakdown and rising divorce have devastated families. Parental failure surely lies behind the current criminality of their rampaging kids. But parents are not helped when corrupt entertainment and relativistic education pervert their offspring. Some of these commentators are so naive with their appeals to parents to get their kids off the streets. Wake up people, mommy is on crack and daddy is in jail, or waiting at home for a share of the loot. And some mommies aren't sure which daddy is which.

British schooling is the home of institutional racism and British teachers are chicken racists. Due to racism, minority children could not develop self-confidence and self-esteem. They are growing up full of anger, frustration and extremism. What do you expect from such youths? Thanks to British schooling

The solution is that all minority children should have their own schools with their own teachers so that they could develop self-confidence and self-esteem. Bilingual Muslim children suffer more than others because they find themselves cut off from their cultural roots and are unable to enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. Research has shown that the cognition of children who speak more than one language develops faster, which is why children are encouraged to become fully literate in their home language AS WELL AS English. Go to North Wales and I am sure you will find a school where no one speaks English as a mother tongue. Are the English going to deny them all British citizenship ??

Speaking English does not promote integration into British society, and broaden opportunities. English speaking Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist, thanks to state schools with monolingual non-Muslim teachers and English language. English language is not only a lingua franca but also lingua frankensteinia. Human right are also covers linguistic right. Cultural and linguistic genocide are very common. British schooling is murdering community languages like Arabic, Urdu and others. English is today the world killer language.

There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys.

Rebecca Hanson - 10 Aug 2011

Questions for Iftikhar Ahmad

Dear Mr Ahmad,

In you first post you talk about how children need role models. Far and away the most important role models a child has are their parents. For some children this is enough to ensure that they will 'stay on track and succeed'. For others - their parents are not enough - this maybe due to parental failures or it may be due to a mismatch between the experiences of the child and the parents or due to the child having a particularly challenging adolescence or peer influences.

For some students who struggle a strict education is a good solution - it is sufficient to ensure they stay on track until they emerge from their most difficult years.

But for others it is not enough and it can compound rather than resolve issues when they either fail to meet the high standards required or when the fail to develop aspects of themselves which are not considered important within the boundaries the school lays down.

A teacher is not guaranteed to meet the needs of a bilingual Muslim child just because they are a bilingual Muslim.

A well run multi-cultural school offers a child opportunities which may be very relevant for them which a strictly Muslim school may not provide.

In the days before recent educational trends took hold, when schools had more freedom to evolve to suit the needs of their communities, you tended to see a very strictly run school next to a more liberal school. This seemed to work quite well. Many students thrived in both. To maintain the standards at the strict school you had to have something alternative to offer those who had to be excluded to maintain the boundaries of those standards and it often work. The threat (and sometime the reality) of the strict school helped to maintain standards at the more liberal school.

Teachers from both types of schools offer students a wide variety of role models and as a teacher I have seen different students taking what they inspiration they need from different teachers in order to get their bearings in our complex world. It's not simple to predict what a particular child will need by their religious background. Surely those who have substantial experience of engaging and achieving success with challenging groups of teenage students also have useful things to say - whether or not they are Muslims?

Personally I would rather see more variety in the multi-cultural schools available, with committed members of the public such as yourself being invited in to work with students for whom they are good role models whether or not those students are of the same religion as you.

I'm okay with primary education by religion be feel that teenagers should have the opportunity to properly get to know their peers from all cultures and religions in their area.


Iftikhar Ahmad - 11 Aug 2011

Educational Jihad

I have been engaged in Jihad for the last 35 years in the field of education. I set up the first Muslim schgool in 1981 and now there are 170 Muslim schools and only 12 are state funded. I would like to see each and every Muslim child in a state funded Muslim school. I believe that one day my dream would come true.

State schools with monolingual non-Muslim teachers are not in a position to develop cultural. linguistic and spiritual Identities of the Muslim children. let British teachers educate their own children and let Muslim teachers educate Muslim children.

Bilingual Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in standard Enlgish to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time thy need to learn Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has released a report about differing levels of discrimination against religious minorities

Regarding Muslims, the report maintained they seem to experience discrimination with far greater frequency than most other religious groups. This included policies by various organisations as well as negative media coverage and physical and verbal intimidation and threats. The report concluded that the majority of Muslims surveyed felt that the problems had gotten worse since the 9/11 attacks.
Overall, the report acknowledged that little research had been done into levels of discrimination against non-Abrahamic religious groups, including Hindus, Sikhs and Pagans. However, it claimed that there was good reason to believe prejudice against them was pervasive in some areas. Now Hindu, Sikh and Black communities are trying to set up state funded Schools for their children with their own teachers.

Racism is still at large in British schools, according to a study published on July 3 by ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, a football-led anti-racism campaigners.

Over 80% of the 148 teachers questioned said that they had witnessed racist name-calling, remarks, jokes and stereotyping of different races from their pupils.

The study, which was supported by National Union of Teachers also includes interviews, pupil observations and a research journal. Its aim was to investigate the problems of racism and inequality in the education system.

Almost a third of those surveyed said that they had seen similar prejudicial behaviour coming from teachers; it was claimed that some teachers used racist terms, or had lower expectations of pupils who originated from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Many of the teachers who had been questioned stated that they had come across “teachers with racist attitudes, for example those who were dismissive of the Asian pupils due to perceived language issues.”

Moreover, 39% of those questioned said they had not received any form of training in tackling racism.

This report calls for teachers to be given training in how to tackle racism not only among pupils, but also among the teachers themselves. Moreover, it highly suggests that all schools should give pupils the opportunity to express their opinions, and that all pupils should be taught about ethnicity and diversity.

Post a comment

After posting your comment you will need to confirm it by checking your email and clicking the confirmation that will be sent to you.

Comments will appear once reviewed for appropriate content.