Leeds Poverty Truth Commission’s HuManifesto

Yesterday I was privileged to be able to attend the closing event of the 2016-18 Leeds Poverty Truth Commission and the launch of their HuManifesto. The event powerfully communicated how poverty dehumanises us and how we can all play a part in breaking down barriers, reducing isolation and increasing communication between people so that we can all become more human. You can read more about the Leeds Poverty Truth Commission on their website and you can also download their HuManifesto.

Schools are caught right in the middle of this issue and provide a fantastic opportunity to help reduce the effects of poverty. I was struck by one simple issue on page 9 of the manifesto which schools could help with which shouldn’t stretch their already overstretched resources – in fact it is something many schools already do via their parents organisations – and that is to have a “uniform recycling scheme”. The cost of school uniforms can present parents with real difficulties but it shouldn’t be too difficult to  provide a means for outgrown uniforms to be passed on.

There are many other ways in which schools are already tackling the way in which poverty affects pupils and parents but if you want to find more ways to tackle this issue effectively why not contact the Leeds Poverty Truth Commission  

Using blogs to engage parents

Often schools struggle to communicate and engage with the parents of their pupils and the wider community. We have found that blogging has an amazing potential for improving communication and engagement without too much extra work. Most blogging tools will interact with other social media such as Facebook and Twitter so it is relatively easy to write a blog post that is then automatically posted onto social media. Here are some examples:

  • If your website allows you to blog then why not use it to communicate the latest school news – the meetings about to happen, the ones that have just happened, the latest football or netball match reports (perhaps written by your pupil reporters), that amazing Ofsted report, job vacancies, new staff, etc. The list is almost endless but by making a news blog your community will be able to see what happens in your school, prospective parents and staff will be able to get a better feel of the amazing things that happen and you will have a fantastic record of your achievements.
  • Why not have an “ACE Work” blog to celebrate all the amazing achievements of your pupils (and maybe your staff!)
  • Class blogs are a superb way of sharing what is happening in that small community of the classroom and encourages engagement between pupils, teacher, parents, community and even the world. Teachers can celebrate the work of their pupils, pupil and parents can add their comments (moderated of course), homework can be set, blogs can be used as a creative medium for pupils eg story writing, reporting on news, etc. Schools can join together and comment on each others blog posts (a great example of this is “quad blogging“). By providing the world as an audience pupils can become more enthusiastic about their creative skills.
  • Blogs for clubs or subjects. I have run blogs for computing clubs for many years and this has given pupils an opportunity to show off their computing skills and has also been an interesting record of their progress. I have also set up blogs to share school weather station data making records of the weather available to other people all over the world. Weather data provides a huge opportunity for developing data handling skills.

By sharing the news of your school, your achievements and the amazing work that your pupils do you can engage so much more with your pupils, parents and community. There are lots of blogging sites and blogging tools available, some free, some that involve payment, some that are very public and some where you have lots of control. If you would like advice, help in setting up blogging in your school or training then do contact me.

Power and social networking

In a recent article in Resurgence Fritjof Capra wrote:

To understand how power works in social networks, we need to distinguish between two kinds of power: power as domination of others, and power as empowerment of others. The most effective social organisation for power as domination is the traditional hierarchy, and power as empowerment is the network.

Social networking is about empowerment so should we not be using and teaching responsible use of social networking in our schools from an early age. In fact, with the movement of effective power from hierarchies to networked civil societies should we not only be teaching it but finding ways to practice it in our schools? Or are we already doing that? Your thoughts?