Leadership programme

Too much division

Mo Jafar

Senior Lecturer in Sports, PE & Development

University of East London

We have come to a point in education where it seems division and dichotomy are prevalent, and possibly felt by some as necessary to justify claims for a high-quality education system. There have been many debates around the best way to run education in England and a lot of these debates are historical, semantic and have been exacerbated by spats on social media, with often toxic consequences for scholarly activity.

I find it highly ironic that debates centred on the detrimental effect of mobile phones in school due to unruly behaviour are played out (often on mobile phones) via social media in some of the most abhorrent ways. This discourse ,along with many others, distracts from the key thing that is missing in our education system – and that is connecting.

(Re) connecting…

The power of connecting with others in an authentic and respectful manner is the only way we will have any chance of rectifying some of the trauma that has been super-charged and (re)ignited since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Young people across the nation experienced the pandemic in a variety of ways and as often the case in society, those with the least resources to weather the storm suffer and continue to carry this suffering, even when things seem to be back to normal for most. The complex task of educating society calls for a multitude of ways to engage with young people, from early years settings, all the way to Higher Education, where the new cohort of educators are primed to enter the profession.

What is required is an agile network of practitioners who put their foot on the brakes for a minute, observe for a little longer, listen to the ‘silent voices’, and reach out and touch local communities, so that they can really feel how the current education system is playing out across the nation. This network shouldn’t be confined to the same old spaces and should not be influenced by those who have the privilege of being able to shout the most, and of being heard by the masses. We have had this for a while, and we are no further down the road to educational redemption.

Connecting for me is not about networking for personal gain, but about spending time with people, finding an appreciation of the diverse skill sets and expertise that they have, and demonstrating an unconditional positive regard so that we can work with and for the young people across this country.

What we need is a government that can facilitate and support the coming together of these communities of practice at regional and local level, and ensure that we have a diverse range of educators who are able to bring their full self, with no fear of repercussions or damage to professional reputations. This may be difficult, as being open and vulnerable does not come naturally to politicians, but it’s what makes us human and the more we continue to shout from our siloed ivory towers the more opportunities we will miss to enrich the lives of young people.

An educational experience that nourishes and affords the opportunity to flourish should not be a postcode lottery.

Who gets my vote…

The party that will get my vote will vow to take stock of the lived experiences of all young people, teachers, and anyone else running on empty whilst trying to keep the proverbial hamster wheel turning.

The party that will get my vote will invest in local communities and schools to help create the conditions for bottom-up initiatives and communities of practice to emerge and sustain a new and vibrant era for education.

The party that will get my vote will alleviate external pressures to meet arbitrary targets that have no impact on developing the whole young person.

The party that will get my vote will make a concerted effort to once again make teaching a profession that people feel proud and honoured to be a part of, as opposed to feeling obligated to leave for the sake of their health and wellbeing.

Mo Jafar, Senior Lecturer in Sports, PE, and Development, University of East London

Big Education

Leadership Programme

Applications are now open for headteachers and senior leaders working across education. The programme gives you the opportunity to connect with your authentic self and equip you with powerful strategies to bring about the changes you believe in.

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It’s time we embraced a civic approach to working together

Leora Cruddas

Related programmes

applications are now open for headteachers and senior leaders working across education. The programme gives leaders the opportunity to connect with your authentic self and equip you with powerful strategies to bring about the changes you believe in.

Who Will Get Your Vote in Education?

In election year 2024, this is one of a series of fortnightly blogs – running through the year – in which we invite colleagues from across the country to answer the question: Who will get your vote on education?

Roy Blatchford is serving as convenor and editor of the series. If you are interested in writing, please contact [email protected]

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