In the dark we need light and hope
Autumn can be a difficult time of year. As clocks go back and the dark nights get longer, we increasingly look forward to Christmas lights. Similarly, in a world darkened by inequity we need places of light and hope. We also need to be those people of hope.
The darkness of inequity
First, let’s address the darkness. Alma Harris and Michelle Jones in their book System Recall: Leading for Equity and Excellence in Education (2020, p.104) state that “Inequity is a social failure, pure and simple. It guarantees better outcomes for some and not for others”. The root causes of inequity are deep and systemic. Those in power and wealth are rarely keen to redistribute it more fairly. Systems tend to reinforce inequities rather than eradicate them and it is easier, and more convenient, to put the blame somewhere else.
As SSAT’s Chief Executive, Sue Williamson, wrote in her blog in May the sad reality is that in the fifth richest economy in the world, schools operate within the context of 14.4 million people living in poverty, including 4.4 million children. Schools are more than places of learning, they have to manage the full spectrum of societal issues. They have become the fourth emergency service.
Shining light in the darkness
Most teachers and school leaders (I’d like to think all) share a strong moral purpose to make a difference in the lives of children. This includes helping them to achieve academically, but it is much more than this. Caring for the whole child necessitates a bigger view, one that addresses the deeply ingrained inequities in our society. It is this commitment which motivates those who work in schools to go above and beyond, to succeed against the odds. I am continually encouraged to hear examples of the incredible work schools are doing to meet the needs of children, families and the school communities.
In SSAT’s Deep Social Justice pamphlets (2019) we highlighted some of these great examples, such as the deep support offered by Manchester Communications Academy. We encourage you to reengage with the ideas in these pamphlets, and explore new ones. Pamphlets include:
- Fighting for Deep Social Justice
- Deep Leadership for Social Justice
- Deep Learning for Social Justice
- Deep Support for Social Justice
- Deep Experience for Social Justice
You can read all of the pamphlets here.
New Year, renewed hope for 2024
In his forward to Fighting for Deep Social Justice (2019), the Rt Hon Mr David Lammy MP, argued that “Every school in this country needs to be in the business of deep social justice” (2019, p.2). As part of SSAT’s ongoing commitment to deep social justice we are launching a new Leading for Equity and Excellence programme in January 2024. All member schools will be able to participate and obtain two free member-exclusive places. We want to reignite hope, create a space for passionate leaders to come together and share practical approaches that will transform lives.
Here’s a taster of what you can expect:
The SSAT Leading for Equity and Excellence programme – starting Thursday 25 January 2024
This programme does not shy away from the growing inequities in society, or the problems of working in a broken system, but focuses on the positive actions school leaders can take to make a difference to our children, in our schools, in our communities. Our work transforms lives, each day, every day.
Despite the challenges, passionate school leaders remain committed the moral purpose of transforming life chances for all children through education. This programme is for the hopeful, the weary, the frustrated and the optimistic. Together we will encourage one another, explore research informed strategies and share practice.
We will focus on solutions based approach and draw upon a wide range of materials from the SSAT network and beyond.
There are six online modules (3.30-5.30pm) and two sharing practice days. In each module we will explore a compelling question from across the original four ‘Deeps’ for social justice (Deep leadership, Deep Learning, Deep Support, Deep Experience) and one new one – Deep Relationships.
We hope that you will join us. To book your free member places register here.
Harris, A. and Jones, M. (2020) System Recall: Leading for Equity and Excellence in Education. Corwin.
Lammy, D. (2019) in ‘Fighting for Deep Social Justice’. SSAT