Pertinent to the profound themes of last month’s VNET Conference, you are now invited to join exceptional colleagues to explore how manageable civic engagement can be aligned with the new Ofsted framework.
[5 mins read]
Every school today faces an insurmountable impasse: A recent report by the RSA shows that 84% of young people desire to make the world a better place but, ironically, the development of life-skills through autonomous social action seems unworkable in the day-to-day running of most schools.
Yet, Ofsted has long since acknowledged the connection between social action and the curriculum and research collated by #IWill shows social action develops employability skills, builds character, boosts access to further and higher education, and supports enhanced well-being among young people, with particular impact on pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. And that is just for starters.
This is why Werdelin Education and Shared Future CIC, an innovative social enterprise, are now inviting a range of stakeholders in education to work together to overcome this challenge through Participatory Budgeting, a proven deliberative process where KS2-5 learners themselves create and present proposals for a vote on how earmarked funds should be spent.
In terms of curriculum, the potential relationship of Participatory Budgeting to maths, English, and even science is obvious. I.e. if you want to convince your peers and parents they will save money by investing the available funds in solar panels on the school’s roof, you’d better get your facts straight, your calculations right and explain yourself well.
Equally obvious is the promotion of oracy and vocabulary (acquisition and application), and skills related to collaborating, thinking, planning and presenting, as is the connections to the fundamental “British” value of democracy, which schools will likely still be required to promote.
…social action has so far been mostly perceived as “something nice to have or extra that could diminish effort from achieving […] outcomes.” * But the “nice” has long since become the necessary, and the launch of the new Ofsted framework makes 2019 an ideal time to fundamentally rethink priorities…
What is Participatory Budgeting?
Shared Future CIC has unrivalled international expertise in Participatory Budgeting, which is an approach to civic engagement recognised by bodies such as UNESCO and Save the Children. Since 2014 the Scottish Government has invested over £4.7 million in a range of measures to support the introduction and development of participatory budgeting which is seen as an empowering way to involve young people that can demonstrably develop pupil leadership and life-skills, support pupil and school outcomes and promote pupil and parent voice. Essentially, all the necessary things that are perhaps not always happening as effectively as we might wish.
Originating in Puerto Alegre (Brazil) over thirty years ago, the concept of Participatory Budgeting has travelled and transferred across the world, adapting to local policy and political contexts. In essence, Participatory Budgeting aims to enable local people to decide on the issues that matter to them and to help them to understand public spending, put forward their own ideas and vote on them. The Scottish Government describe Participatory Budgeting as “a way for local people to have a direct say in how public funds can be used to address local needs” and consider it to have important potential in helping individuals feel connected to each other and to their communities and can instil a sense of ownership, trust and connectivity.
How does that sound?
The co-creative conversation
It sounds good. But so does involving pupils and students in projects incorporating local businesses, which is the objective of my work with Newcastle University. Practice, however, is something entirely different. In fact, any proposal which brings the learners out of the delineated comfort zone of the classroom and requires that responsibility for the learning process is transferred to them gives most teachers and school leaders ticks. And sometimes with very good reason.
This places the discussion of Participatory Budgeting in schools squarely in the no man’s land between progressive and traditional approaches to education, for want of better terms.
…it is absolutely vital that headteachers, researchers, HMI, local authorities, training providers, and MAT leaders, youth and youth workers, sit together for once for a co-creative conversation…
Given that trench warfare is hopeless for both sides, and leaves children as the collateral damage, it is absolutely vital that headteachers, researchers, HMI, local authorities, training providers, and MAT leaders, youth and youth workers come together for a co-creative conversation:
How would Participatory Budgeting connect any potential solution to the intent, implementation and, especially, the impact elements in the new framework? How can required workload for teachers kept to a minimum? How can we ensure equal participation and individual accountability in groups? Where will the money come from? How would students want this to look? Where do parents stand?
These are questions that we can only answer together, as any unilateral quick fix will profoundly impact somebody else’s territory – and likely not in a good way.
Working together with experts from a range of fields you will help answer the why, how, who and where of this joint initiative to merge demands for measurable outcomes in education with the imperative urgency of whole-human development and societal engagement.
- Explore this innovative and exciting approach to youth empowerment.
- Evaluate what has been achieved elsewhere and how it can be applied within UK education.
- Develop new connections and relationships with like-minded professionals.
- Contribute to building a long term and impactful education programme that will deliver Ofsted objectives and be realistic to for schools in terms of workload and finances.
Social action has so far been mostly perceived as “something nice to have or extra that could diminish effort from achieving […] outcomes.” But the “nice” has long since become the necessary, and the launch of the new Ofsted framework makes 2019 an ideal time to fundamentally rethink priorities.
- Date: Wednesday 27th March 2019 (10.30 am – 4.15 pm) in central Birmingham (Venue TBC).
- Cost: Free, Refreshments provided, lunch is not included.
*) Alexandra Bamburova (MBA): An exploration of the drivers and potential barriers for schools in England embedding youth social action in their culture and practice, Henley Business School, University of Reading, published by #IWill (Accessed 6 February).