A long Australian history of success, but qualified…
“Australian women are among the most highly educated in the world, yet their participation in paid work remains comparatively low.” Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner (2007 – 2015). This beginning to the time-line is an illustration of how, even when progress has journeyed so far over time, that there is so much travel left to achieve.
Despite Bella Guerin becoming the first Australian woman to achieve a Batchelor of Arts degree, in 1883, we can still read at the end of the Open College timeline that, in OECD analysis, that the full-time weekly wage for a woman is 17.5% less than a man’s.
We liked the presentation and the easy readability of the content, although there is enough referenced content to satisfy the Australian gender historian too.
In 2017 the Australian Government – Department of Women published a full report, for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61).
In it, Kate Jenkins the new Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, maps the topography of contemporary Australia in the context of women’s gender equality.
Sharing ‘…Australian successes and challenges and gained insights on increasing women’s economic participation, including through: equal pay; reducing gender-segregated industries and workplaces; recognising and valuing unpaid work; improving data collection and working alongside men to achieve gender equality’.
There is a very useful reflection on the developing status of Australian Indigenous Women, tempered by the highlighting of continued and persistent risk of violence and discrimination to Australian women in rural areas, as a general finding.
The report of proceedings we also found useful as a research guide to Australian civil society actors, interested in gender equality, which we may not have discovered from this distance.
Our verdict after digesting the sources above? The Australian gender equality journey is one with much success to report, but which continues to highlight a burgeoning equality gap for the Australian woman.
Inequality, like poverty, is a policy choice. Governments, wherever they are, need to do better on this evidence.
Prime Minister James Callaghan made a speech to an audience at Ruskin College in Oxford on the 18th October, 1976. A speech that, some would argue, launched the Great Debate about education.
Certainly some of the issues and challenges, that James Callaghan raised that day at Ruskin College, remain as pertinent and telling as ever today. Callaghan emphatically stressed, in his speech, the value of the Trade Union movement, not a view often embraced by a Prime Minister today for sure, but also lucidly saw children as delivering an endowment for a future society.
Speaking on that day in 1976, a detailed reading of the full text saw Callaghan giving long credit to Trade Union education energy, highlighting the role that unions and social activists play in energising human capital, often sailing against the pre-dominant elitist and exclusive educational cultural wind.
Callaghan saw the wide and emphatically important debate abroad in the country in his time about the economy, political or otherwise, but ventured to say ‘…not as important in the long run as preparing future generations for life. RH Tawney, from whom I derived a great deal of my thinking years ago, wrote that the endowment of our children is the most precious of the natural resources of this community. So I do not hesitate to discuss how these endowments should be nurtured‘.
Fiona Millar, writing in The Guardian in December 2016, has revisited the 1976 Callaghan postulation and has teased out many facets of the Callaghan analysis that often leaves the contemporary liberal, educated, education-aware reader in despair, when education is viewed down the long telescope of history.
‘Do we have a curriculum that promotes basic standards while allowing a child’s personality to “flower in its fullest possible way” as Callaghan put it?’
‘Would he (Callaghan) have envisaged systems of oversight so fragmented and convoluted that some headteachers can become proprietors of small business empires from which they directly profit?’
‘Would Callaghan have wanted good heads and teachers suffocated by hyper-accountability, wrestling with what is best for their schools against what is best or their pupils, while the less scrupulous boost performance by weeding out the most challenging pupils?’
Millar has chosen a good time to revisit this educational clarion call from a Labour Prime Minister who, on a detailed reading of this speech, represents the gold standard of education analysis and is deserving of perhaps a kinder view from history than he was previously afforded.
We weren’t quite sure what to make of these web pages at first. Built by Gapminder in Sweden, they show two hundred and forty families, across forty six countries, and link a series of images of their possessions and homes to their average monthly income.
Was it voyeurism that made us uncomfortable? Was it the notion of ‘economic tourism’? Or simply the discomfort of being shown a stark reality, illustrating how individuals and families, often precariously, cling to hope, aspiration and dignity?
For the team at Gapminder the proposition for Dollar Street is clear. These are the facts and they should temper all discourse about the other – other people, communities and culture.
Was it our imaginations, or did the preponderance of families with incomes of less than five hundred dollars a month across the globe decline to smile in the photographs? Of course this could be a cultural thing, rather than a crude measure of some sort of economic level on an imagined ‘happiness index’.
However, the wealth of Creative Commons images on the site and the short biographies of the people photgraphed make for an interesting comparative study.
To counteract litanies of fear, prejudice and racism can be no small aim. Rendering global ignorance redundant by illuminating the world with facts. No small ambition for a small Swedish independent Foundation.
‘For the first time in human history reliable statistics exist. There’s data for almost every aspect of global development. The data shows a very different picture: a world where most things improve; a world that is not divided. People across cultures and religions make decisions based on universal human needs, which are easy to understand.
The fast population growth will soon be over. The total number of children in the world has stopped growing. The remaining population growth is an inevitable consequence of large generations born decades back.
We live in a globalized world, not only in terms of trade and migration. More people than ever care about global development! The world has never been less bad. Which doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The world is far from perfect’. Source: https://www.gapminder.org/about-gapminder/
For teachersGapminder has a proliferation of resources and toolkits available to explore the world through data.
Having wrangled with the intrusive nature of the Dollar Street image index, and having read the Gapminder mission statements, we felt their argument that the world is indeed ‘a better place’ to be much needed in troubled econo-social and educative times.
‘…Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools, warned that there is a continuing crisis in the education of the poor white working class. Some don’t like to hear that, because they think concentration on difficulties experienced by the white working class detracts from the attention owed to disadvantaged minority students also left behind. But I have little time for that zero-sum game. I think we should address all underachievement‘.
The concept of the working class as a distinctive cohort is problematic. Whether white or dosadvantaged the label attempts t make a singular ‘mass of people’ from a bewildering variety of experience, expectation and shades of outcome.
In her recent article in The Guardian, ‘Why Class Won’t Go Away’, Lynsey Hanley powerfully reflects upon the schisms revealed by the recent referendum and the Brexit debate. The vote, she argues, was split by class and geography.The rising wave of social and economic inequality which has been tolerated for so long at last, in the referendum process, found an outlet for its harboured discontents.
In her work, we would argue, she defines a much more granular and subtle mapping of the working class experience.
Hanley declares that the epithet ‘white working class’ has been a way to define an amorphous cohort in society certainly, ‘…who sort of look like us but who don’t seem to be like us, and we can’t work out why’. ‘The idea that, in a group as heterogeneous as the British working class, it is only the white members who have been “abandoned” has proved magnetic to both columnists and politicians‘, as referenced in the opening remarks from Ofsted above.
Even the Labour Party, Hanley argues, has embraced the singular entity of the white working class as a means to aggregate reasons for the failure of the party at the polls. She nicely evidences the distance of The Labour Party from its ‘working class’ electorate with a narrative of how, pre the 2015 election, Labour Central Office had been unable to find a ‘worker on the minumum wage’ for commentary recording as no-one in the office knew any.
Perhaps it also highlights the vast distance between Party machines of all colours from their grassroots members lived experience.
‘Far more than in other western European countries, if you are born poor in Britain, in a poor area, the chances are that you will remain poor for the rest of your life. If you are born rich, in a rich area, the likelihood is that you will find a way – or will have ways come to you – to stay wealthy and privileged throughout your life, and your children will do the same’.
Hanley describes living in Solihull in the West Midlands in the 1980’s, where the term ‘working class’ was never used. Instead ‘people like us’ or ‘the likes of us’ held sway she says. This is the working class, arguably, defining itself as separate, as a methodology to protect individual and family from the depredations of ever mounting scoial and economic inequality.
‘It needs to be acknowledged that “helplessness” or “dependency” – as defined by politicians seeking to blame individuals for structural failings – is an adaptive stance rather than an innate fact of character’ Hanley says.
In a recent article in The Huffington Post, Sarah Newton argues that class persists too. The schisms defined by Hanley are securely entrenched by the use of, what Newton calls, ‘constructive cultivation’.
This is a framework of social, economic, educative and psychological processes that push middle class children to engage with and perpetuate a class based educational and expectational life landscape.
‘Until we accept in this country that the class system is having an impact on education choices later in life and face it head on and challenge it, then nothing will ever change’.
Equally important for Newton is the cultural legacy of the working class. This neatly chimes with the Hanley thesis of identity as defence. The layering of approaches to low expectation and social prejudice that condition the individual’s approach to life progress. They are, she argues, inherited from generation to generation.
Class has not gone away, it has become bound to the rocky strata of education, politics and economic behaviour. It is bound to the bedrock of inequality. It is this restraining shale which education reform should try and shatter, permanently.
To make the phrase ‘…I think we should address all underachievement’ a la Hugh Muir really mean something.
Read Lynsey Hanley’s book and explore her argument about working class culture and the enduring nature of class inequality – Respectable: The Experience of Class, Allen Lane, April 2016.
Why is class still so central to the experience of living in Britain? It is an urgent question, evaded through a kind of collective shame, but Lynsey Hanley approaches it with wit and passion.Respectable is pithy and provoking, spiced with the personal but solidly grounded in a lifetime’s experience of analysing the world around her. It is one of those valuable books that enables the reader to re-think her past and re-experience her own life. (Hilary Mantel, a review))
Thursday 22 September, 2016 7pm-8.30pm
Venue: King Solomon Academy, Penfold St, London NW1 6RX
Join us next Thursday for a gathering to show our collective support for comprehensive education and our opposition to the creation of new grammar schools.
This will be a positive rally that will involve a number of inspirational speakers, a chance to find out what happens next and the opportunity to share any ideas you have to try and win the argument in public and in parliament. It should also be great opportunity to meet others who share your concerns about the Green Paper.
Confirmed speakers include: Fiona Millar, Writer and Founder of Local Schools Network Becky Allen, Director of Education Datalab Joanne Bartley, Kent parent and chair of Kent Education Network David Weston, Founder and Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust Laura McInerney, Editor of Schools Week Melissa Benn, Writer and current Chair of Comprehensive Future Katrina Black, Regional Director – Europe, Teach For All Louka Travlos, Impact Strategy, National Citizens Service Ndidi Okezie, Executive Director – Delivery, Teach First
Flotsam: an occasional series of ideas from other places…
Bill Gates is in conversation with Nate Bowling, the Washington State Teacher of the Year for 2016 in the US. In the dialogue, the teacher tells Bill Gates that for many students learning ‘…is a matter of life and death’.
“If my students are not successful in school, they end up in the prison-industrial complex.”
The conversation reveals that in the US public school system, half the students enrolled live in poverty. With more than 70 percent of students qualifying for ‘…free or reduced price meals’.
In a separate publication Nate Bowling had published a blog article which has garnered a lot of attention. In it he declares that ‘…America does not care what happens to poor people and most black people‘. The article, entitled The Conversation I’m Tired of not Having, Mr. Bowling goes on to decry the lack of simple political will, in the US, to effect change and re-balance equity in educational opportunity and achievement.
‘Polite society has walled itself off and policymakers are largely indifferent. Better funding for schools is and will remain elusive, because middle class and wealthy people have been conditioned over the last 35 years to think of themselves as taxpayers, rather than citizens’.
In both the conversation with Bill Gates, and in his own article, Nate Bowling has some profoundly strong and supportive comments to make about teaching as a profession and the nature of the role his professional colleagues play, in the disenfranchised school system he works in.
The narrative has a strong resonance in the UK, with the laborious ebb and flow of educational policy, coupled to outcomes that continue to widen, not alleviate, the inequality gap for the many.
Bill Gates conversation with Nate Bowling originally appeared in Gates Notes. Nate Bowling’s reflection on teaching and the development of his profession originally appeared in natebowling.com .
Read both articles to get insights into the US public shool system from the perspective of a black teacher. It is interesting, and provocative, to those who would press for the continuance of the status-quo.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, the newspaper has revealed the level of taxpayer money spent on salaries, meals out, travel in comfort, private health insurance and the use of leased luxury cars.
The article reveals the expense clams of a Midlands based chain Chief Executive, who whilst drawing a salary of £180,000 p.a. leases a top of the range Jaguar car and dines in Marco Pierre White restaurants. It is a deep irony that the samed named individual is quoted as explaining how education in the UK faces stringent financial challenges and is seeking to reduce his school chain costs by £500,000.
In total, The Guardian claims, some one million pounds of public money has been spent on executives pay in the last twelve months. This tally includes one chain Chief Executive of a Trust, drawing a salary of £195,354 a year, who claims for the wi-fi costs of her French holiday home.
The Chief Executive of one Trust, The Guardian reports, which runs 12 schools, pays its chief executive and founder, a total package of £225,000, while his wife receives £175,000 as executive principal and founder.
Of more concern is the issue of ‘related party transactions’. This is where Directors of Trusts use companies, with whom they have a ‘close relationship’, to charge for services to the Trusts they are responsible for.
It is difficult, from the continuing Guardian article, to see how the Education Funding Agency (EFA), the body charged with oversight of Academy finances can have the resources, time and attention to detail to adequately police this tide of public money.
‘Academy numbers have risen from 600 to 5,000…the EFA dealt with 125% more financial returns in 2014-2015 than the previous year, despite having 20% fewer staff…’
We leave the last word to Head of Education at Unison, Jon Richards. “There are huge amounts of public money being shovelled around in the schools system, and unless the EFA ups its game, plenty of unscrupulous people out there will help themselves.”
…a succinct and user-friendly guide to help schools address prejudice, reduce bullying and promote equality holistically. Created with schools for schools, the guide is sponsored by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, and has won an Innovative Practice Award 2016 from the Zero Project, for a world with zero barriers.
The work sets out to engage the whole school community, with a very strong focus on placing children at the heart of the safeguarding process. The resources included offer a range of good examples, audit tools and a wealth of links to more information to suppport project development.
‘Materials can be used for teaching and learning activities, assemblies, peer mentoring, school council, staff training, equality policy and whole school development’.
We list below links to a variety of sources that foster a critique of the current relationship between Ofsted and the Academy Trusts.
The links and narrative samples are not ours, they are courtesy of the Reclaiming Education movement. They are telling and offer a comprehensive landscape view of a system in the throes of developmental crisis.
The first reference begins with a letter from Chris Dunne to theFinancial Times. ‘We may regret not having defended our education system…’
We commend the suite in entirety to our readers. Please share this article with colleagues.
Chris Dunne’s letter, “We will come to regret not having defended our education system”, in the Financial Times can be seen here
Henry Stewart’s piece looking at the progress of academies against maintained schools can be read here.
Ofsted condemns Academy Trusts: The Government has announced that it plans to force all schools to become academies. The major problem is going to be who will run these schools, given that Ofsted has some major criticisms of at least 8 of the large academy trusts.
Ofsted Inspections of Academy TrustsOfsted has carried out focused inspections of academies within 9 multi academy trusts. Significantly, only one, the last and smallest one, is positive. The full reports can be found on the Government website here. A map of where the academies are can be found here.
CfBT: 11 primary/8 Secondary“CfBT took on too many academies too quickly. The trust did not have a clear rationale for the selection of schools, a strategy for creating geographical clusters or a plan to meet academies’ different needs. As a result, standards are too low. The trust relied heavily on external consultants but did not ensure their accountability in securing rapid and secure improvement. Headteachers were unable to provide each other with the much needed mutual support or share available expertise. Current CST leaders openly acknowledge these errors.” Full report
Academies Enterprise Trust: 32 primary/30 secondary/5 special”After operating for nearly eight years, the Trust is failing too many pupils. Almost 40% of the pupils attend AET primary academies that do not provide a good standard of education. It is even worse in secondary, where 47% of pupils attend academies that are less than good……
“Children from poor backgrounds do particularly badly in this Trust. The attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils, in both the primary and secondary academies, still lags behind that of other pupils, and gaps in performance are not narrowing quickly enough……
“The outcomes of the focused inspections failed to demonstrate that the Trust is consistently improving its academies. Full report
Collaborative Academies Trust: 9 schools“Collaborative Academies Trust was set up in 2012 by EdisonLearning ……
………Too many academies have not improved since joining the trust. Of the five academies that have had a full inspection since joining the trust, only one has improved its inspection grade compared with its predecessor school. Two have remained the same and two have declined. This means that, at the time of the focused inspection, there were not yet any good or outstanding academies in the trust. “ Full report
E-Act (formerly Edutrust): 23 academies (was more)“…Nevertheless, the quality of provision for too many pupils in E-ACT academies is not good enough.
……Standards in the secondary academies are too low. Previous interventions by the Trust to raise attainment and accelerate progress have not had enough impact and any improvements have been slow.
….Pupils from poor backgrounds do not do well enough. These pupils make less progress than other pupils nationally. This is an area of serious concern. “ Full report
Kemnal Academies Trust: 15 secondary/26 primary“Less than half of your academies were good or better and there are no longer any outstanding academies in your chain. ………
.. an overwhelming proportion of pupils attending one of the academies inspected are not receiving a good education. “ Full report
Oasis Community Learning Trust: 50? Schools – DfE list and Oasis website appear to disagree.The academy trust has grown rapidly, taking on 30 new academies in the last three years …
Across the trust, some groups of pupils do not achieve well. Disadvantaged pupils, particularly boys, make significantly less progress than their peers nationally………. there is no evidence of an overall strategy or plan that focuses on these particular issues. Full report
School Partnership Trust: 41 schools“The impact of the Trust’s work in bringing about improvement where it is most needed has been too slow. Where standards have been intractably low for some time, the Trust is not driving significant, sustained improvement. …
……The standard of education provided by the Trust is not good enough in around 40% of its academies inspected so far. “ Full report
The Education Fellowship: 12 schools“There is no clear record of improvement in the trust’s academies and standards across the trust are unacceptably variable. In around three quarters of the academies, standards are poor.
Standards declined in five of the eight primary academies in 2014. In the majority of the trust’s 12 academies, the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their better off peers, both within the academies and compared with pupils nationally, remains unacceptably wide.” Full Report
Wakefield City Academies Trust – the only positive one!“Two years into its development, WCAT is making a positive difference to the quality of provision and outcomes for pupils within its academies. “ Full report
We had a small intake of breath when we read the headline for a web article, just published, about a state funded school in Orange County, Florida. They are intent on holding a STEM event only for boys.
No wonder some of the technically qualified, female parents began a petition to resist such a move. Which they did. In the U.S. Title IX states that…
‘No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance’.
(Title IX is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), codified at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681–1688, co-authored and introduced by Senator Birch Bayh; it was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002…Ed.)
The school have since issued statements stressing that the event was planned as a son and mother event, which still renders some parents speechless, the subject hanging, as it does, on a core branch of the curriculum tree. Stunning thinking in the twenty first century? See the original story on the pages of Jezebel.com here.
The issue of women and science education is part of an on-going debate in England too.
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 November 2015 at the University of Nottingham – Book on-line here.
‘What is Missing in Action about? A collaboration between the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Digital Women UK, this ‘thought space’ will allow female digital entrepreneurs, academics, creative practitioners and those interested in this field, to discuss professional challenges and concerns, share insights and learn from each other’s experiences and studies of digital entrepreneurship.
Why the title? Missing in Action reflects the fact that although female digital entrepreneurs are aspiring to start up status, or are working widely in the UK, very little is known about who they are, which communities they come from, the obstacles they face and which entrepreneurial activities they are engaged or interested in’. (Narrative source – Digital Women UK – November 2015)
Although this is a female digital entrepreneurship event, the undertow of educational neglect of women in science education is, we would argue, a clear current for discussion.