CEN releases its annual report

October 15, 2012 in Blog, Briefing note

Communities Empowerment Network (CEN) has spent another year supporting vulnerable children and their often bewildered parents in the face of institutional practices in schooling that are often demeaning, unfair, discriminatory and damaging to the life chances and well-being of children and to the confidence of parents and families in the schooling system.

This year’s Annual Report (covering the period from April 2011 to May 2012) provides details both of the range and extent of the interventions CEN is called upon to make and of the disproportionality of exclusions involving African and African Caribbean school students. It is now an all too familiar story and one that has a history of which the entire nation should be ashamed. But, rather than looking at the systemic reasons for the continuing over-representation of African heritage students in exclusion statistics, the Government is hell bent on removing the only recourse they and their parents have to an independent scrutiny of headteachers’ exclusion decisions.

As the report points out, even under the former regime that pre-dated the Education Act 2011 which took effect in September 2012, only a very few exclusion decisions were overturned with a direction from the Independent Appeals Panel that the student be either reinstated within the excluding school or assisted by the school to find an alternative place elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry →

Gus John calls for regrading of 2012 GCSEs

September 20, 2012 in Blog

Professor Gus John joins a number of eminent academics and campaigners for children’s education rights in calling for a regrading of papers in this Summer’s examinations fiasco. Gus John says:

I believe that however much Michael Gove pleads ‘no interference’, he cannot dissociate himself from the political and policy context in which the examining boards shifted the goalposts and the time they chose to do so. It is devious, morally reprehensible and gruesomely demotivating to hardworking students and teachers to play such a nasty trick.

Last Thursday night, I attended a most uplifting awards ceremony at Featherstone High School in Southall and handed over awards and spoke to the school community. The high ambitions of the students, and of the staff for them, was so evident and so clearly reflected in their results and in the destinations of their Year 13 leavers, that it was heartbreaking to hear some of the personal stories both staff and students had to share.

I have said repeatedly that is my perennial regret that there is not a strong, organised and disciplined national school students movement and corresponding parents movement that could mobilise themselves and join forces with teachers in protesting such cynical abuse of power by the Executive and their satellites. Read the rest of this entry →

Gus John pays tribute to Gerry German

May 3, 2012 in Blog

It is with deep, deep sadness that I inform you of Gerry German‘s passing.  He died at 03.00 this morning of a heart attack at home.  I am sure that, like me, you will be shocked at the suddenness of his death.

Gerry was a life-long campaigner for children’s education rights and an unwavering supporter of all our struggles.  Having been a former headteacher and Principal Education Officer at the Community Relations Commission/Commission for Race Equality, he helped to establish the Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources and 13 years ago invited me and a couple others to join him in setting up the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN).

Over those 13 years, CEN has dealt with an average of 1,000 school exclusion cases per year, providing advocacy to school students and their parents and representing them at School Governors Disciplinary Committees and at Independent Appeals Panels.  Each year, we have taken some deserving cases to Judicial Review and won most of them.  Gerry remained the main case worker for CEN and its unpaid Director until yesterday.  I am currently Chair of CEN for the second time, having been its Founding Chair.On Monday 30 April, Gerry introduced and made the closing remarks at a session at Lambeth Town Hall:  The Power of Love  -  Spiritual Leader Dadi Janki (age 96) of the Brahma Kumaris in Conversation with Professor Gus John.

He was 84.

We give thanks for his extraordinary life and his giving and compassionate spirit.

Peace and Hope!

A tribute on Facebook

Picture (homepage):

Yellow Blooms” by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton (Flickr)

Comment: Boris Johnson and youth violence in London

April 24, 2012 in Blog

"Stop n Search at Notting Hill Carnival 2011", by belkus (Flickr)

On April 23rd, The Guardian published an article entitled “Boris Johnson ‘has done virtually nothing to tackle youth violence’“. Professor Gus John commented on the news story, saying:

Ron Belgrave is finally lifting the lid on the sham that passed as Boris Johnson’s engagement with the issue of serious youth violence in London and in particular the relentless spate of killings of young black people by their peers.  The ‘Time for Action’ strategy had a grand title but was never going to deliver very much because the Mayor was clearly committed to two courses of action that are typical of the political class, irrespective of the colour of their rosettes.

The first was to treat young black people’s involvement in knife and gun enabled crime as if it arose from their congenital propensity to evil and had nothing to do with the state of Britian and the material conditions and structural marginalisation in which that generation and their fathers before them were nurtured and continue to exist.  The second was to indulge in a crude form of benign racism by attaching to himself a black special adviser who had already been publicly discredited and made to resign his post as Deputy Mayor, someone who had no proven expertise to match the complexities of the task facing any Mayor in getting to grips with the scandalous number of murders of black young men and the similarly troubling number of their assailants being given life sentences for those murders.  Read the rest of this entry →

School Exclusion Ruins Lives. No Excuses!

April 21, 2012 in Blog

On May 16th, professor Gus John will deliver the keynote address at the “School Exclusion Ruins Lives.  No Excuses!” conference.

The event, organised by the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN), aims to give a response to the recommendations outlined by CSJ ‘No Excuses’ report (dated September 2011) and the Children’s Commissioner School Exclusions Inquiry.

The Lilian Baylis Technology School, in London, will host the event.  Read the rest of this entry →