An Appreciative Inquiry into African and African Caribbean Studio Schools and their local impact on community regeneration

Academic Lead: Dr Ornette D Clennon with Amber Abisai, Henry Ngawoofah and Dr Esther Oludipe

Academic Lead: Dr Ornette D Clennon

In 2013, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) hosted a seminal conference in Hulme about education and its implications for the local communities in the surrounding areas. The conference explored the various models of post 2010 Academies Bill-educational provision and looked at each to see whether they would suit the educational needs of the local communities. The conference looked at Free, Studio, Cooperative, Arts-led Special and Supplementary Schools. After the conference, African and African Caribbean community leaders who ran local supplementary schools approached MMU and asked for assistance with strengthening their local supplementary school provision. A consortium of African and African Caribbean-led supplementary schools was then formed under the conference name of Making Education a Priority (MEaP). MEaP collaborated with MMU’s Faculty of Education to design a PG Cert in Teaching and Learning for the supplementary school-teachers that looked at teaching, learning and assessment strategies and school administration and leadership within in a supplementary school (community) context. As MEaP has grown, it has begun to research its ‘native’ pedagogy, which it has located in the African Philosophical Approach to Education, namely, Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a pedagogy that is rooted in values that encompass social justice and the relationship between the concepts of ‘community’ and the ‘individual’ (Waghid, 2016). Since African and African Caribbean supplementary schools were historically set up to address and counter perceived social inequalities in the education sector (Andrews, 2013), it seems fitting that the schools who comprise MEaP want to explore their pedagogical heritage more deeply. Within this context of its pedagogical heritage and issues around school sustainability, MEaP has since revisited the themes from the 2013 conference to consider the Studio School model, a possible next step in its organisational development and expansion.

Proposed Outcomes

  • To improve the academic achievements of young people and enable them to be self-confident and have high academic aspirations
  • Increasing the number of people accessing employment, education or training opportunities. Supporting disadvantaged people through skills, training and volunteering opportunities
  • Improving educational and employment outcomes for people who are not in employment, education or training


We will use a qualitative approach that comprises focus groups and semi structured interviews as our methods of data collection. Our research will aim to collect data in the following four areas of Appreciative Inquiry (van der Haar & Hosking, 2004).

  • ‘Dreaming’ – looking at wider educational aspirations
    • Assessing local demand for a Studio School (wider communities)
  • ‘Designing’ – looking at specific educational aspirations for the school
    • Assessing parental demand for a Studio School (within the ward of Hulme)
  • ‘Discovering’ – focussing on best pedagogical practice
    • Assessing distinctiveness and application of Ubuntu pedagogy and project learning in a Studio School setting
  • ‘Destiny’ – looking at issues of sustainability
    • Assessing policy implications for provision of academies in central Manchester and impact on Local Authority plans

Research Questions

Building on the research context and proposed theoretical framework outlined above, the proposed study will be structured around the following research questions:

  1. Is a culturally sensitive BAME-led Studio school needed in Hulme?
  2. What would make an African and African Caribbean (BAME) Studio School approach different to existing educational provision in neighbouring areas?
  3. Is there a need for ‘Alternative Provision’ in our proposed school?
    1. If so, how would we deliver this provision in a culturally sensitive way?
  4. How will our plans fit with intended Local Authority educational provision?

We will keep you updated with our progress, here.

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