Paris Brown: sending up a gimmick?

April 10, 2013 in Blog, Gus in the Media, Print

On 8 April 2013 the Evening standard carried a story about Paris Brown who having been appointed as a youth police commissioner by Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes, one week earlier at a cost to the taxpayer of £15,000 a year was found have posted homophobic and racist tweets prior to her appointment. The Evening Standard asked me for a comment. This is what I wrote on April 8.

Print screen from Evening Standard (

Print screen from Evening Standard (

If Paris Brown had wilfully set out to send up the peculiar notion of a paid ‘youth crime commissioner’, she could not have done it better. Her mother protests that Paris has 14 GCSEs and should be allowed to get on with her life having apologised for her abusive language on Twitter, language which itself borders on hate crime. The fact that she published those deeply offensive remarks before she was appointed to this dubious post is all the more reason why she should be stripped of it.

With 14 GCSEs, she is surely bright enough to know that those former boasts about her loutish and bigoted behaviour constitutes skeletons in her cupboard that give off a stench in which the police ought to have a forensic interest. Even if those appointing her did not probe her Twitter account, she should therefore have revealed her homophobic and racist conduct to them. If she did and was appointed nevertheless, then those who appointed her must have wanted to demonstrate that it is precisely young people with her tendencies they want as ‘advisers’ on youth crime. Proof indeed that her ill-conceived post begs too many questions that have not even been posed. Read the rest of this entry →

Should families take the blame for youth crime?

October 5, 2012 in Blog, Print

On the eve of a conference organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church into parenting and last summer’s riots, the Lambeth Weekender asked professor Gus John: are families to blame for what children do

Lambeth Weekender: What impact did parenting have on the 2011 England riots?

Professor Gus John: This is a very broad and complex question and it needs to be much more nuanced. When do parents cease to have direct responsibility for their children’s conduct? At what age are children thought to be criminally responsible? How many young people below the age of 16 were involved in the riots? It seems to me that there are questions about parental responsibility in respect of children who were involved in the mayhem on the streets and who would not ordinarily be seen as old enough to be home alone.

There is a much wider question about whether or not some parents routinely let their young people who live at home go and come as they please and at whatever hour they please, without bothering to find out where their children are or who they are with. I do not have the statistics at hand, but there were many young people arrested for involvement in the mayhem who do not fit that profile but found themselves on the streets out of curiosity or because they saw an opportunity to get back at the police.

The broader question of why so many young (and older people of diverse ethnic backgrounds) clearly were not acting with moral purpose on those nights is one that concerns more than just parents. Young people acquire values and use them as a compass for their public and private conduct from parents, schools, the media, the conduct of public leaders and politicians, films and popular culture, etc. The majority of those taking part in the disturbances were from urban working class families, but not all.

The question as parental responsibility was not posed at all, or not put in quite the same way during the disturbances that accompanied the student fees protests. Was that because the majority of those protesting and confronting the police were white and middle class? Is parental failure deemed to be responsible for the widespread fraud committed by MPs in the recent expenses scandal, or the high level white collar crimes that are committed in this country every day, much of which goes unreported? Read the rest of this entry →

Mending Broken Britain? Education’s Response

September 28, 2012 in Blog, Lectures, Speeches

Last February, Professor Gus John delivered a keynote address at the “Mending Broken Britain? Education’s Response” Conference, which was organised by Curriculum Enrichment for the Common Era (CE4CE) and sponsored by Birmingham City University.

Against the background of the riots that spread across Britain in August 2011, this national conference aimed to unpick something of the complex causes of the unrest and analyse the crucial role of education in addressing these profound issues. The output of the conference has now been turned into a report that you can read here. Read the rest of this entry →

Supporting our future leaders

August 5, 2012 in Blog

Over 200 people gathered at the London South Bank University’s Nelson Hayden Lecture Theatre on July 21st for the 100 Black Men of London’s 10th Annual Community Mentoring Programme Graduation Ceremony. 

Honorary Member Professor Gus John attended the event. On a keynote address, he praised the work promoted by 100 Black Men of London and he also urged the audience to support the young graduates in their future efforts, so that they can become role models in their own communities.

Blogger “Tiemotalk” was also there and wrote a very kind post about the whole event.

Picture: Print screen from “Tiemo Talk of the Town

Gus John addresses Lib-Dems’ Race Equality Task Force

April 25, 2012 in Gus talks, Speeches

'Prime Minister, David Cameron', by UK Parliament (Flickr)On April 25th, professor Gus John was invited to address the Liberal Democrats‘ Race Equality Task Force in the Houses of ParliamentHis presentation – entitled ‘The role of schooling and education in building social cohesion and combating racial discrimination and marginalisation’ – went as follows:

My submission to this Task Force is informed by the following:

– My schooling in Grenada in the Eastern Caribbean and in Trinidad (‘A’ Levels), having been born of parents who were functionally illiterate (father) and semi-literate (mother);

– Parenting of six British born children, all schooled and university educated in England, the eldest a medical doctor (GP) and the youngest a teacher of children with severe learning disabilities and a Rap artist; one of whom read Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at Oxford having attended a ‘bog standard’ comprehensive in London;

– My work as Deputy Director of Education (post school) in the Inner London Education Authority and later as Director of Education and Leisure Services in Hackney (the first black chief education officer in the UK);

– My training of teachers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow as Visiting Faculty Professor (1997 – 2007);

– My work as Associate Professor in the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education, University of London, where I co-facilitated a headship development programme for senior Global Majority (so-called black and ethnic minority) teachers aspiring to become deputy heads and headteachers; Read the rest of this entry →