Bullying in higher education

December 18, 2014 in Blog, Gus in the Media, Highlights, Print by Gus John

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

‘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. Read the rest of this entry →

CEN Annual Report: a note from Prof Gus John

December 1, 2014 in Blog, Highlights by Gus John

School class

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. Read the rest of this entry →

After Trojan Horse: Ofsted on the gallop

November 27, 2014 in Blog, Highlights by Gus John

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. Read the rest of this entry →

Patriotism in Black and White

November 23, 2014 in Blog, Highlights by Gus John

Former Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry and the image she tweeted from Rochester (PA)

Former Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry and the image she tweeted from Rochester (PA)

There is something very instructive about the events that unfolded in Rochester last week. For me, the most disturbing and dangerous is the reaction to Emily Thornberry’s tweet. Disturbing, because of the assumptions that underlie the popular narrative. It was felt that Thornberry was sneering at the working class, Labour’s traditional voters for whom it was ‘normal’ to display their patriotism by flying the Union flag and the English flag. But no one seems to have paused to consider who and what constitutes that working class.

For decades, Labour has taken for granted the support of a growing section of that working class, the African and Asian Diaspora in Britain. They are patriotic, too, but do not adopt and unfurl those two flags because they see them as emblems of racial oppression, depicting Britain for what it is, a nation of complementary forces for evil and for good, emblems that have been appropriated by the Far Right (National Front, Column 88, BNP, Britain First, etc), even as they are used to demonstrate an inclusive Britishness. It is after all the flag with which all our great British African Olympians and national heroes such as Lewis Hamilton wrap themselves. Read the rest of this entry →

Unveiling of African and Caribbean War Memorial

November 11, 2014 in Blog, Highlights, Speeches by Gus John

The UK’s first African and Caribbean War Memorial at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. Photo: BrixtonBuzz

The UK’s first African and Caribbean War Memorial at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. Photo: BrixtonBuzz

Prof Gus John delivered the following speech at the unveiling ceremony of the War Memorial to African & Caribbean Servicemen and Women in Brixton, London:

Before I pour Libation and acknowledge the spirit of all those Africans who gave their lives in the first and second world wars, let me make a few brief comments.

We are gathered here today, not to glorify war. The monument we are about to unveil is not to glorify war. War remains forever inglorious, whether you are victor or vanquished!

Nor does this monument represent jingoistic, or even pious, adulation of the bravery, selflessness and sacrifice of the Africans who served in the British Armed Forces. Read the rest of this entry →