Prof. Gus John arrived in the UK in August 1964, aged 19, to study for the priesthood. But almost from the moment he arrived he became involved in what was to become his life’s calling – education, youth work and the struggle for social justice and human rights for embattled communities as an activist and an academic. Help us celebrate his birthday and his lifetime achievements in March 2015.
This two-part programme is a celebration of 50 years’ campaigning for the rights and education entitlement of all children, for racial equality and social justice and against unlawful discrimination in all its manifestations.
We should be worried about the competence of those running our universities, says Gus John, who identifies three reasons why bullying goes unchecked in academia.
‘Publish or perish’ research culture in universities is damaging staff morale. Photograph: Donna Yates/Donna Yates
The results of the Guardian higher education network’s survey on bullying in higher education should give the entire sector cause to worry about the competence and style of leaders and managers in the sector.
As someone who has examined the equality policies and action plans of every institution in the UK in the last 12 years, I identify three key problems:
1) University leaders put money ahead of learning
Vice-chancellors, provosts and principals are running institutions that see themselves more and more as corporations or conglomerates. They are not understanding that financial management and brand leadership should not displace the fact that universities are first and foremost learning communities – and that the principal function of education is to humanise society.
Management competence must be measured as much as anything else by senior managers’ capacity to demonstrate a knowledge of employment law and acceptable practice, and its convergence with equality and human rights legislation. They need to know how they would ensure that it forms the foundation on which they set about building and sustaining a culture of equity. Continue reading
“I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad. Tact and diplomacy are fine in international relations, in politics, perhaps even in business; in science only one thing matters, and that is the facts.”
Eysenck. H – Rebel with a Cause (Transaction Publishers, 1997, ISBN 1-56000-938-1)
At the beginning of December 2014, two world renowned centres of academic excellence merged. The Institute of Education and University College London became one. Professor Chris Husbands, IoE director and Professor Michael Arthur, president and provost of UCL said of the merger:
There are several factors that we consider essential to make this merger one of the most successful that has ever occurred in UK higher education. The first is that UCL and IOE share similar values, with the principle of social justice, openness and a tendency to opt for the critical and radical approach, underpinning both organisations. The second is that it is a merger of two institutions that share similar levels of global ambition and that hold academic excellence, and the organisational autonomy necessary to create it, in very high esteem. The final factor is that we fully recognise that as we merge, the hard work is only just beginning.
Compulsory Schooling and the Urgent Need to Safeguard Children’s and Parents’ Rights
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) has just concluded a public consultation on a rights-based approach to education. CEN welcomes and has responded to that consultation.
We very much welcome this intervention by the Children’s Commissioner, especially as it is a logical development following her inquiries into school exclusions and the widespread abuse of children’s rights that those inquiries uncovered.
Successive governments have handed unlimited powers to academies and free schools and those who run them, as chains or otherwise. They have no accountability in the public sphere and parents are truly bewildered at their lack of redress when things go wrong and when, typically, such schooling providers choose to do as they please, ignoring every law, every statutory guidance and abandoning any concept of natural justice. Continue reading
The Trojan Horse debacle has highlighted more than any other issue in recent memory just what kind of schooling and education system we have and how utterly inappropriate the in-built measures for assessing and guaranteeing quality actually are.
What is more, even in this democracy, the voices of criticism, let alone protest, about what is being done and projected as ‘normal’ in our name are so mellow, if not muted, that those doing the wrecking of our schooling and education system genuinely believe that there is consensual licence from the nation for what they are doing.
It is fast becoming clearer, in case anyone had any doubts, that the Trojan Horse fiasco and the government’s handling of it have implications for the entire nation and its schools and not just for the City of Birmingham. In the last couple weeks, schools in Tower Hamlets have come under the spotlight. Headteachers in Leicester, Rochdale, South and West Yorkshire are anticipating unannounced visits from Ofsted with results similar to those of inspections in Birmingham and Tower Hamlets. Continue reading