Archive | April, 2016

Researchers propose mechanisms for turning around a failing school/academy

9 Apr

I        The Global Educational and Skills Forum

The Global and Education and Skills Forum (GESF) held in Dubai on 12-13 March 2016, will be memorable for many reasons – not least for Hanan Al Hroub’s winning the Global Teacher Prize of $1 million awarded by Sunny Varkey Foundation.

Mrs Hanan Al Hroub, who was born in Bethlehem, grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp.   She has dedicated her life to teaching following an incident in which her children were left deeply traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way from school.  Hanan is committed to a “no violence” approach which is set out in a book she wrote, We Play and Learn.  She fosters trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students, emphasising the importance of literacy.  She has generously shared her philosophy and approach at teacher training sessions and in conferences organised by the Ministry.

The GESF this year will also be remembered for another reason.  Dr Alex Hill, Associate Professor at the Kingston Business School, Kingston University, shared his research findings on academies in relation to how to turn around a failing school.   The issue continues to be of growing importance.

While many aver that converting a school “going down the pits” into a successful one is “Mission Impossible”, the internet is awash with articles capturing the experiences of many who have been engaged in this exercise.  Accordingly, Professor Alex Hill, in collaboration with academics from Cambridge University, was commissioned by the government to find the secret of successful transformations.

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Character Education: Is it the Holy Grail to Academic Success?

9 Apr

I           Resilience

One of the recent preoccupations of Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has been “character education”.   This is unsurprising, given that Michael Gove, current Justice Secretary and her predecessor, made both, the curriculum and examinations and tests more rigorous causing young people to stress out.  Accordingly, she has been investing time and resources in seeing how children could be made more resilient.

Children in the United Kingdom grow up in a cosseted environment.   Surfaces on which they play must be safe; they are not permitted to go out into the streets to ride their bikes or kick balls in case they are kidnapped and abused by paedophiles or run over by cars.   So outside play is replaced with inside tablets; and I am not talking about pills.   A March 2016 poll revealed that 6-to-11-year-old children spent less time outside than the daily hour allowed to prisoners.

And if they do not know how to look after themselves, children are not developing the character tools they need – such as resilience or buoyancy – to negotiate the hidden dangers on the road of life or to survive failures on the road to success.   They have truly become the “snowflake” generation.  This is why Mrs Morgan is keen to foster resilience and character education.

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