Tag Archives: achievement

Learning Through Values – reflections on the longest day…and the longest journey.

21st June 2014 and it is three years to the day since we held our first ‘Festival of Learning’.  The festival was titled ‘Transforming Education, Transforming Ourselves: inspirational spaces for learning and change’ and in some ways it was the first public outing for our work on Learning Through Values.  The event brought together a diverse range of educationalists from a range of subject areas and agendas as well as from across different organisations and phases of schooling.

What held the space was a shared concern with the changes about to come in education in England (the impact of the new coalition government was just starting to become clear at this point) and in particular about the values (though we weren’t explicitly using this yet) that were inherent to those changes. It was a transformational event for many of those there and certainly for me and for my organisation, Lifeworlds Learning, that had organised the festival as its first major community event.  It led to the first conversations around values and in turn this led to the formation of the Leading Through Values pilot project working alongside several partners who had been involved in the Festival and a follow up event in November 2012.

So much has happened in 3 years – the establishment of a new Learning Through Values community and website, the completion of the Leading Through Values pilot project, the development of new values professional learning opportunities, the emergence of new values work and connections in China, fledgling values partnerships with new organisations and authorities, and several new publications and resources for release in 2014-15 school year – and yet it sometimes feels we have gone nowhere!

The announcements just a week or so ago about the expectation for schools in England to actively promote ‘British values’ suggests that Learning Through Values as we perceive it has barely got off the starting blocks and that there is a long journey ahead.  Reassuringly, I believe we are now better equipped for that journey than we have been, and that we have some incredibly supportive and wonderfully challenging traveling companions.  It is not a done deal though.  We have a long way to go and the road ahead will be bumpy, will have its crossroads and dead ends, but the meandering and progress (no matter how gradual), will I believe continue to open up new and exciting avenues for learning and teaching and to inspire the resilient communities necessary to embrace and resolve the issues that will come their way.

If you’re new to this area of thinking and learning, then I warmly invite you to get involved and add your voice to the growing dialogue that has become the soundtrack for our individual and collective journey’s.  Now to enjoy a full 12 hours + of daylight!

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Poor “White British” achieve less – so how does this connect to “British” values?

I was amazed this morning to listen to stories on the radio and read them on the web about the lower achievement of poor White British children vis a vis other ethnic groups in British schools with poor Indian children performing the best.  See one example here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27886925

My amazement was not at the connection between poverty and low achievement (this is not rocket science and I have seen it myself), nor at the differential between ethnic groupings in similar levels of deprivation (leaving aside the highly subjective nature of this for now).  My amazement was at the complete disconnect in all media to the debate around British Values that was so dominant last week in relation to schools.  Indeed one radio report even trailed a moral debate around British Values and whether or not they can and should be taught in schools, right after the story on the lower achievement of White British children.

I find this disconnect fascinating and worrying as it suggests a blinkered and isolated approach to policy and a complete lack of understanding (or willingness to understand) education, learning and values in 21st century Britain.

Surely this is the time for a proper debate?  Surely we need to explore the data that White British under-perform with the apparent demand to promote British (White?) Values that presumably inform those very same children?  I can almost hear the response being ‘well that’s because they don’t have values’ but our work around values in schools and communities including those in under-performing, post-industrial, poor white communities suggests there is a very different picture.

I fear that what we will get instead is a rushed consultation on British Values (with few in these communities being included in the consultation) and then an ill-conceived instruction to schools, to be measured by a poorly prepared inspectorate.  Values appear obvious, but are not.  Engaging effectively in values requires a fundamental questioning of self and an essential dialogue with others.  If we do not give teachers, governors, inspectors, parents and pupils, the space to have these discussions then we will exacerbate differences and increase alienation.  Where we give space, our work shows that it is possible to reveal (and in many cases rediscover) a common purpose that and that this can be a very strong force for positive change, in well-being, cohesion, and achievement.

The fact that poor children from Indian, Pakistani, Black African and Black Caribbean backgrounds all perform better than those from White British, surely also suggests that the discussion we need is around values and that the sooner we drop the distraction, obstacle and frame of ‘British’, the better?

 

 

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