Update Published 26.9.18 “This is a timely and important book that expertly combines personal narrative with nuanced theoretical analysis. Black Scholarly Activism between the Academy and Grassroots is a deeply engaging work that urges the reader to consider the possibilities and challenges facing academics who work towards social justice. Once picked up, this is a […]
Academic Lead: Yewande Okuleye
Yewande Okuleye, a medical cannabis researcher within our School of History, Politics and International Relations, has spoken of her ‘excitement’ meeting Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the real-world application of her research into cannabis self-medication during an event at 10 Downing Street for the 70th anniversary of the Windrush.
The event, which took place on 22 June, saw Yewande being invited by the Prime Minister as part of the Operation Black Vote parliamentary scheme, where she is currently shadowing and learning from Tom Brake MP.
For more details, see here.
Academic Lead: Dr Ornette D Clennon and Jan Bradburn (Manchester City Council)
Read full Policy Brief, here
Supplementary schools are volunteer-led spaces, offering educational, cultural and language provision for mainly black and minority ethnic (BME) children and young people. Research has consistently shown that they offer an invaluable resource for many pupils, but are often overlooked by mainstream schools and education funders. (Nwulu, 2015, p. 7). According to Ramalingam & Griffith’s (2015) report, there are between three to five thousand supplementary schools across the country that operate mainly on Saturdays and sometimes on weekdays in the early evening. These statistics are especially important when we consider that approaching a third of all BAME pupils attend supplementary schools alongside mainstream education.
In order to give feedback on the Green Paper, we arranged two focus group meetings with a range of BAME supplementary schools from Greater Manchester’s African and African Caribbean, Somali, Muslim, Arab and Chinese communities. Our discussions with the focus groups revealed the wide range of activities that our supplementary schools undertake and although their central focus is education, they very much act as community hubs with the potential to deliver an even greater range of community services. The overwhelming sentiment from our groups was that the government needs to greatly expand its current recognition of ‘out-of-school settings’ to include the wide range of community activities that supplementary schools already run to “build[ing] strong, integrated communities” that “challeng[ing] attitudes and practices which…foster[ing] division” (HM Government, 2018, p. 16)
We would suggest that funding is needed for pilot projects that promote community cohesion and inter-school cooperation. These pilot projects could act as opportunities for supplementary schools to build track-records for larger consortium-based commissioned community services (e.g. youth engagement, adult literacy, etc.)
We would suggest that more funding is needed to create a dedicated Local Authority team that looks after safeguarding and (teacher) training for supplementary schools. This team would also be responsible for managing any paper work that future regulation might create.
Back to Policy Recommendations and Updates, here.
Attendees: Jan Bradburn, Manchester City Council; Sheena Wadhera, Manchester City Council; Sondos Abaas, Almanar School; Mohammed Kouzali, Almanar School; Jenny Liu, Chinese Education Culture Charity College, Manchester; Norea El Mashay, Al Hikmah Academy; Mohammed Hasan, Samodon Trust; Ornette Clennon, MEaP/MMU
Integration Green Paper
– We discussed the Integration Green Paper and the Out of Hours School Settings paper.
– We also fed back on our group discussion from our last focus group meeting.
Awareness of Supplementary Schools, their activities and staff
– In the context of potential regulation, Sondos said that the government needs to fully know what supplementary schools do before placing extra regulatory demands on them.
– Sondos, Mohammed K and Jenny Liu said that their schools were Edexcel exam centres and that their role in the exam success of their students needed to be promoted more widely. They said that this was a challenge because their students sit their exams in their mainstream schools, which don’t seem to acknowledge the input from their supplementary schools.
– Sondos said that mainstream schools have extensive problems with exclusions but said that supplementary schools don’t have these problems because their children are too busy studying.
– Mohammed K said that most of their children are high academic achievers.
– Jan made the point that supplementary schools want to teach all children in their local communities but this was not a general perception of supplementary schools.
– Sondos also said that the schools achieve all of their results with very small budgets.
– Jenny Liu made the point that supplementary school Heads have to perform many roles all unpaid; from cleaning, teaching, administration
– Jan warned that the relationship between some mainstream and supplementary schools was sometimes strained because the former does not always recognise the financial constraints of the latter especially when it comes to venue hire.
– Jenny Liu said that she preferred working in secondary school venues because they allow her school greater freedoms to temporarily customise the space than do primary schools.
(My reflection: the debate about regulation in the context of PREVENT seems to conflate two distinctly different constituencies of young people because the schools represented by our focus groups work with high achieving, studious and ambitious young people who would be least likely to be at risk of radicalisation. It would appear that the young people at risk of radicalisation would also be at greater risk of other types of exploitation, which should also be closely monitored. Schools operating in dangerous environments that could be putting young people at risk were not likely to be participants in the voluntary code of practice that has already been established, in other words they will already be operating underground.)
Voluntary Code of Conduct
– Jan reminded us that Manchester City Council operates a voluntary code of conduct with its supplementary schools.
– Mohammed K asked who they could contact within the council if his school had social care concerns about their students.
– Sheena said that there were sign posts to other Council services but admitted that they could be made even clearer.
– Jan said that MCC can already intervene in terms of for example safeguarding issues, but also promoted and supported the adoption of effective school policies and designated safeguarding officers.
– Sheena asked how the group felt about the paper work that would be associated with regulation
– The group answered by re-iterating that if their work is valued then the government needs to come and see their work before imposing regulation.
– Sondos said that if they are required to do more paper work, they would want to be funded to be enabled to do so (taking into consideration their voluntary status)
Creating a Platform to Promote Manchester’s Supplementary Schools and Funding
– Norea said that our schools needed a platform to promote their achievements.
– Jan said that she compiles reports of all her visits/events/training on a monthly and annual basis.
– Jan said that she and her team are currently updating the MCC supplementary school page to include information about their schools’ achievements.
– Jan said that the culture, language and exam centre success needed to be promoted on the page.
– Sheena said that it would be possible to turn the current page into a holding page with links to some of Jan’s reports whilst the new page was being constructed.
– Sondos asked how the government regarded MCC and its work in this area.
– Sondos said that they needed the government to recognise what our schools do and that an MCC platform would help, so that schools could secure funding to do more but also to build sustainability in terms of their venue arrangements.
– Jan made the point that the government perception of supplementary schools is that they are reluctant to share and showcase their work with statutory agencies but in her experience in Manchester, this was the opposite. Jan said that she found that the schools that she and her team worked with were extremely open and welcomed scrutiny of their affairs. Jan attributed to this to a healthy relationship generated by good will by the Voluntary Code of Conduct.
– Sondos also said that funding would be welcomed to enable more work with mainstream schools
(My reflection: Manchester City Council needs to more aggressively promote itself nationally as a beacon of best practice in this area)
Supplementary Schools, Community Cohesion and Humanitarian Work
– Mohammed H said that supplementary schools tend to spend less time with the children but achieve greater motivation via their youth engagement
– Mohammed H said that Manchester’s supplementary schools need to meet more regularly to strategise their work in terms of collaborations
– Mohammed H said that many schools also do valuable charitable work (e.g. fundraising) for groups in their ‘home’ countries
(My reflection: the current network meetings could involve breakout sessions designed to encourage inter-school collaboration, especially if project funding were available to encourage such activities)
– Ornette asked if it would be possible to prepare schools via their policies, safeguarding and governance to become commission-ready in order to be able receive commissions from the MCC to provide local youth and community services.
– Ornette also asked if project funding for supplementary schools could be used to help them build a track record in order to help them become commission-ready for larger bids
– Sheena suggested that there should also be funding for a dedicated MCC team that would report the achievements of the schools
– Sandos said that this dedicated team could also do the paper work for the schools and become a community version of OFSTED
The focus group made the following recommendations:
– Funding is needed for pilot projects that promote community cohesion and inter-school cooperation. These pilot projects could act as opportunities to build track records for larger consortium-based commissioned services (e.g. youth engagement, adult literacy, etc)
– Funding is needed to create a dedicated LA team that looked after safeguarding and (teacher) training for supplementary schools. This team would also be responsible for managing any paper work that future regulation might create.
Linked to Research: Making Education a Priority (MEaP)
Attendees: Jan Bradburn, Manchester City Council; Munira and Waddah Alsusa, Manchester Arabic School; Mohammed Hasan, Samodon Trust; Ornette Clennon, MEaP/MMU
Supplementary School Attendance of the Consultation
– Following on from our initial consultation with civil servants from Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (see here), we wanted to organise a wider consultation with our supplementary schools in Manchester.
– Based on our wider consultations (tonight’s meeting and next week’s), we intend to write our proposal and collective feedback under the auspices of Manchester City Council and send it to the civil servants as part of the national consultation process.
– Jan said that perhaps our schools are unaware of how the implications of the green paper could affect them.
– Jan said that the spectre of regulation and the prospect of funding could have some profound implications for our schools.
Integration Green Paper
– We discussed the Integration Green Paper and the Out of Hours School Settings paper.
– Jan said that she did not think that regulation was the way to go because she thought that it would encourage Local Authority surveillance of our schools.
Voluntary Code of Conduct
– Jan said that MCC already has a voluntary code of conduct.
– Jan said that she was concerned that Islamic schools and Madrasas were being drawn into regulation because they regularly provide the 6hr threshold of delivery.
– Jan feels that supplementary schools are being prepared for regulation, despite the feedback to the out of hours provision consultation.
– Jan wants to see more voluntary code of conduct; Quality Mark and MCC training.
– Jan said that she was concerned about regulation coming in through the backdoor.
– We discussed the last paragraph of the out of hours settings section of the integration green paper.
– We thought that it exaggerated the safeguarding issues.
– We thought that this could endanger the trust and relationships that have been built with schools.
– Jan said that goodwill is the basis of a relationship of trust between the Local Authority and the communities and feels that regulation could force schools to go underground, as good will evaporates.
– We felt that BME schools are being targeted.
– Jan said that she would enquire if MCC could join the Home Office funding scheme (like the one Bradford Council uses)
– Jan said that eligibility would depend on how much a concern the schools within Local Authority registration, were.
– Jan wondered if MCC were to get the Home Office PREVENT funding would this engender suspicion of being spied upon within the schools. Any strings attached with the funding?
– Jan also wondered whether if the funding came with the impression that its recipients were under investigation, whether this would affect uptake and participation.
– Jan said that she would like to use the funding for training and school policy development.
– Ornette wondered if the “concern” could be reframed to wanting to make sure schools had adequate support for teacher training and safeguarding needs.
– Jan said that the PREVENT funding would come through the Communities department in the Council and wondered whether it would be possible to access some of it for supplementary education.
– We discussed how funding is needed for schools to put everything in order in terms of governance and policies.
Supplementary Schools as Community Hubs
– Ornette suggested that if supplementary schools were ‘rebranded’ as community hubs that ran educational activities, our schools might be a better fit for Communities funding.
– So we discussed what proposals we could put forward for this funding.
– Funding for training and grants to develop projects around community cohesion?
– Mohammed discussed how Madrasas contribute to keeping young people off the streets with worth while activities.
– We discussed how the government did not seem to appreciate educational activities outside of mainstream provision.
– Mohammed said that it could be a good thing for supplementary schools to diversify their activities to deliver other community services.
– Jan suggested that supplementary schools often operate as substitute youth services.
– Mohammed said that Muslim communities needed to ask themselves more about what services they are providing for their wider local communities.
– Mohammed said that some Muslim communities are isolated.
(My reflection: In applying for project funding could we not make training a mandatory requirement of accessing project funds. Quality Mark training and teacher training (L3). Teacher training or cultural competency training would be good to consider as managing a community cohesion project could be part of the teacher training/cultural competency programme)
Community Cohesion and Differences
– Mohammed said that our supplementary schools had to work together more as a team, in so doing showcasing our multicultural potential.
– Mohammed said that within Muslim communities there are many traditions coming from the many nations whose populations observe Islam. Mohammed said that projects around inter-traditional understanding should be considered.
– Mohammed said that barriers between Muslim communities need to be broken down.
– Ornette asked whether funding would be given for that. Jan said no because Muslims are perceived as a homogenous group lacking in diversity. Jan gave the example of how she identified the specific need for safeguarding training for Shia mosques but this level of targeted support was discouraged.
– Mohammed suggested that the Shia communities might feel isolated so should be invited to sessions with other Islamic traditions.
(My reflection: This means mosques from different Islamic traditions need to be more proactive in linking across the traditions. This would be more effective than the Council trying to do this).
– We also discussed how our supplementary schools could open their doors to white students (My reflection: Countering the ‘white flight’ phenomenon).
– Jan gave an example of a Nigerian family sending their children to a Chinese supplementary school in order to learn Mandarin.
– We discussed what strategies could be employed to encourage white participation. For example, project funding for integrative activities, sponsorship of white children
(My reflection: Using research of University of Manchester to back up claims of educational gains, supplementary schools should be educational venues for all children. This could be especially useful for white working class families, whose boys are currently under-performing).
– Jan mentioned a similar programme in Leeds where mainstream schools were supported by supported by supplementary schools.
– Jan also mentioned the Al Furqan programme at the Manchester Academy for Somali children at risk of exclusion.
Radicalisation and Exploitation
– Mohammed and Waddah said that this was important within the context of PREVENT because radicalisation only takes place when Islamic teachings are hijacked by interpretations non native to Islam. As Islam teaches tolerance.
– Conversion to ISIS beliefs represent a perversion of Islam.
– Jan made the point that PREVENT should be about supporting families to spot the signs of all exploitation; gangs, drugs, sex trafficking.
– Ornette made the point that these forms of exploitation could be regarded as pre-cursors to radicalisation and should also be looked at.
– Munira said that more funding support should be given to families and especially mothers who have a central role in their families’ education.
– Munira suggested that mothers could play a significant part in preventing their children from being exploited.
(My reflection: funding the role of supplementary school as community hub providing wider community services is crucial here, as our school representatives are implying that radicalisation and its exploitation precursors are festering in isolation caused by structural disadvantage)
Supplementary Schools, Advocacy and History
– We discussed the potential of supplementary school teachers providing community role models for the children and young people.
– Mohammed said that high self esteem for black communities was also important.
– Munira said that there was a lot of undiscovered talent at the schools.
– We discussed the need to look at wider Muslim history in terms of colonialism
– Mohammed and Waddah gave an example of Islamic philanthropy (waqf) where it is forbidden to charge interest on a loan, as what would have been an interest payment should be given to the community. (Both said that ISIS is used to defy Islam)
(My reflection: It is interesting to note that Muslim communities are also passionately committed to eradicating Islamist radicalisation, so they, in theory would support PREVENT but it seems that they would like to be assisted in fighting against radicalisation on their own culturo-religious terms. The solution has to come from the grassroots and cannot come from the top down process that is currently administered under PREVENT. Funding for developing these grassroots culturally-relevant (Islamic) anti-radicalisation programmes are essential).
Linked to Research: Making Education a Priority (MEaP)
Academic Lead: Dr Ornette D Clennon
Here is a piece of mine published in The Conversation Anti-racism protestors sit in at the Starbucks where two black men were arrested. EPA-EFE/Bastiaan Slabbers I’ve found myself tweeting my moral outrage a lot recently. From #DrivingWhilstBlack to #WalkingWhilstBlack, #LivingWhilstBlack and #EatingWhilstBlack, there have been endless occasions when African Americans are punished for merely being in public spaces. The latest took place at […]