The G20 2020 theme, Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All, is supported by a global consensus that inclusive education should be a core policy priority.

The GHFP team have been working in collaboration with the G20 Interfaith Forum Education Working Group, to develop a policy brief that brings to the fore the urgent need for G20 leaders to review national policies to enhance the quality and equality of education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed ever-widening gaps, with disadvantaged populations finding themselves further marginalised. Inclusive education can contribute to cohesive and thriving societies characterised by the wellbeing of all, in particular supporting the most vulnerable children and young people. 

Inclusive education offers paths to enhancing students’ motivation for participation and learning, raising self- and other-awareness, reducing biases, enriching relationships, increasing capabilities in team work, collaboration and conflict transformation, enabling a greater sense of belonging and community, reducing bullying and violence, and most importantly, improving wellbeing and opportunities for all. Without inclusive and caring approaches, vulnerable children and young people are not only discriminated against within the current systems, they are also excluded from broader opportunities for learning and wellbeing

Globally, during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, faith-inspired initiatives have played  distinctive roles in advancing a values-based discourse and promoting spiritually meaningful approaches to respecting all children’s dignity and meeting their diverse needs. Faith-inspired educational initiatives are working in many settings to empower local communities to close the gaps resulted from school closures, lack of public services, and isolation. They also provide practical support to address the acute social, emotional and spiritual needs of children during this time. By engaging with religious leaders and faith/interfaith actors, G20 leaders, national governments, and their international partners can strengthen the 2020 G20’s vision of “global cooperation to forge mutually beneficial solutions, face challenges, and create opportunities for all”.     

The G20i Education Working Group’s Policy Brief highlights an ongoing need exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes an urgent call for G20 governments to forge cross-boundary partnerships to jointly advance an agenda of inclusive education. It outlines the specific challenges confronting the global community at this time and draws on relevant literature, insights from a recent survey of faith-inspired organisations’ conceptions and approaches to inclusive and caring education, and proposals from a wider interdisciplinary consultation, to provide specific and implementable policy recommendations for the G20 leaders to consider at the G20 Summit in Riyadh in November 2020. 

The key recommendations of the policy brief are:

1. Advancing the Wellbeing of Every Child as the Core Aim of Education 

  • Promoting wellbeing of all students in the learning community
  • Introducing inclusive curricula
  • Prioritising collaborative and co-creative learning in the classroom  

2. Ensuring Participation of All in Inclusive Learning Environments 

  • Engaging [all] young people and empowering student voice and agency 
  • Forming partnerships among schools, families and faith communities to support all children 
  • Strengthening links between schools, faith communities, and wider society 

3. Aligning Teachers’ Professional Development with a Wellbeing and Inclusion Focus

  • Reviewing national capability frameworks for teachers’ professional development
  • Enhancing teachers’ awareness, sensitivity, and appreciation of diversity and inclusion 
  • Enabling teachers to facilitate transformative, collaborative and dialogue-based learning  

As part of the preparation for the 2020 G20 Summit, the G20 Interfaith Forum Education Task Force, sponsored by the GHFP Research Institute, carried out a survey with over 50 interfaith-inspired organisations, conducted a literature review, and explored case studies with a view to understand better how these organisations and educators conceptualise inclusive education.

The result was an extremely rich vista in terms of how we might understand inclusive education, including:

  1. recognising and respecting the intrinsic worth of all children
  2. being available and accessible to learners of all backgrounds, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, caste, religion, ability, sexual orientation, economic status, language, or beliefs
  3. focusing on the whole child, and nurturing their holistic well-being, including the physical, social-emotional, intellectual, moral, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of development
  4. honouring students’ diversity, valuing their difference, and being responsive to their evolving needs in all aspects of learning, development and wellbeing
  5. creating safe and caring learning spaces and promoting cohesive learning communities
  6. cultivating students’ agency, and attending and responding to students’ voice respectfully, appreciating what everyone brings to the educational setting, and advocating solidarity
  7. empowering all learners to participate transformative collective actions in the community and beyond
  8. supporting all children to thrive in the face of increasing uncertainty

Such understandings have provided the basis for G20 Interfaith Forum Education Policy Recommendations aimed at meeting the challenges of social cohesion and collective well-being and flourishing during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated an ongoing global need for social justice. In particular, it highlights wide gaps between ideals and practices pertaining to the shared goals of quality and equality in education. These gaps are evident across the most and least wealthy of countries. In particular, the pandemic has unmasked different forms of discrimination and exclusion, marginalising children and young people who are already disadvantaged.

Many religious/faith/spiritual organisations and communities have long played an important part in reaching out to the excluded, caring for the vulnerable, and encouraging equality in education. During the pandemic, these organisations and communities have been particularly active in identifying and helping those most at risk, engaging multiple stakeholders, and collaboratively making the provision of quality education more accessible.

By establishing an Education Task Force, the G20 Interfaith Forum (G20i) will be able to draw on insights from relevant faith-inspired practices to articulate a forward-looking vision of reimagined education. To this end, the Task Force, in collaboration with the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation (GHFP) Research Institute, launched (1) a Desk Review, and (2) a Survey, aimed at deepening our understanding of inclusive and caring education, and identifying educational programmes where religious and faith inputs are central to their underpinnings. This exploration illustrated that at the core of a common global agenda of quality, equality, and social cohesion are practices of inclusive and caring education, with many inspirational examples linked to approaches anchored in faith. (The term faith is used broadly here, to include religion, faith, belief and spirituality.)

Download the summary of the research report which will serve as the basis for G20i’s global high-level expert consultation during which relevant policy recommendations will be put forward.

As part of the G20 Interfaith Forum’s Education Task Force, the GHFP has launched a research into Inclusive and Caring Education from a Faith Perspective. The research consists in two parts: (1) a literature review to understand better how religion/faith/spirituality tends to define inclusive and caring education; (2) a questionnaire survey to seek examples and case studies of faith-inspired approaches to inclusive and caring education.

For further information, please read G20-Interfaith-Forum_Edu-Task-Force.

We welcome all faith-inspired educational projects and programmes that have a focus on inclusion and diversity to share their practice HERE.

The World’s Biggest Conversation

Human-Centred Education is delighted to share Education Reimagined: Shaping Our Children’s Future, Together from our friends at School of Sophia. The World’s Biggest Conversation also feature our very own Dr Scherto Gill as a keynote speaker.

Join a wonderfully interactive conversation with parents and educators across the globe. As part of the UN’s 75th Anniversary Celebrations, this special 3-hour group discussion takes place online, on Friday 26th June 3-6pm BST, as we re-imagine how to shape a brighter future for the next generation. What are the lessons you’ve learned by staying at home with your children? What future do you most wish to create for your children and grandchildren?

Join the conversation and be a part of the global movement towards greater solidarity. Hosted by Priya Mahtani (School of Sophia), there will be guest contributions from Christopher Clouder, Torin Finser and Scherto Gill as speakers, and creative contributions from Kevin Davidson, Els Vrints & More! Free to join. Registration however is essential. Find out more on their website https://www.schoolofsophia.org/er-un75 

Relational Evaluation in Education

Gergen&Gill2020_Beyond-the-Tyranny-of-Testing_Relational-Evaluation-in-EducationKenneth J. Gergen and Scherto R. Gill

This book is a the most timely contribution to address our current educational impasse. It

  • Offers a compelling alternative to the measurement-assessment orientation to evaluation that undermines learning and well-being in schools today
  • Improves on the patchy critiques of testing and grading by offering a coherent account of the historical and cultural assumptions on which the measurement-testing tradition is based
  • Richly illustrated with school-based examples that inspire the possibility of a relational approach to evaluation of students, teachers, and whole schools
  • Provides concrete, classroom-rooted practices that can stimulate discussions among school leaders and policy makers

The book leads the dialogue and imagination about a post-Covid world where systemic transformation in education is possible, and where education can nurture the holistic well-being of our students in an inclusive and engaged way. See more about the book HERE.

During Covid-19 pandemic, many schools are closed, exams cancelled, and without the stress of testing, education continues in truly creative ways: Learning becomes both local and global, engagement is mix-aged, reflective, and mutually supportive, and evaluation is carried out relationally and collaboratively. No longer constrained by performance outcome, schooling at home is enriching and enjoyable. Instead of focusing on attaining grades, students find themselves imagining the kind of world humanity should be living in, the persons they want to become, and the things they would like to do to contribute to a better future. The questions remain:

  • “What educational system would sustain such enthusiasm for learning?”, and
  • “How might schools be re-structured to kindle children and young people’s passion for world-making?”

In our recent book, with the same title, we have explored what a systemic transformation may look like and how the classroom-based innovation and teachers and students initiated approaches to learning can inspire positive structural changes in schools.

Beyond the Tyranny of Testing: Relational Evaluation in Education

Kenneth J. Gergen and Scherto R. Gill

Abstract

Measurement-based assessment in education is byproduct of a bygone era. As grades and test scores now become the very goals of education, learning suffers, along with human relationships and well-being of students and teachers. In this book, we propose an alternative to the current assessment tradition, in which schools are no longer conceived as factories, but as learning communities and sites of collective meaning-making. Prioritized is relational process that assessment practices tend to undermine. Relational process is constituted in our well-being, from which we draw understandings of the world, what counts as knowledge, learning, meaningfulness and goodness. A relational orientation to educational evaluation is thus proposed, highlighting evaluation as co-inquiry and value-creation. It aims to stimulate learning while simultaneously enriching the vitality of relational process. To illustrate, a wide range of innovations in evaluative practice is offered to bring these ideas to life. Case studies are drawn from both primary and secondary schools, demonstrating how evaluation can sustain continued engagement in learning and relating. Likewise, a relational approach also applies to evaluation of teachers’ practices and schools’ progress as a whole. As the book shows, the former enhances teachers’ professional development, the latter nurtures the learning communities. Additionally, a relational shift in evaluation opens a space for systemic transformation, including the flourishing of interactive and dialogic teaching and learning practices, flexible, varied and co-created curricula, as well as a culture of mutuality and collaboration. Such a transformation speaks to the demands of a rapidly changing and unpredictable world.

This year, the GHFP was invited by Beijing Normal University to teach a credit course on HCE. Dr Scherto Gill and Professor Kenneth Gergen, a fellow of the GHFP, provided the lectures together.

Participants are masters, doctoral and post-doctoral students. The lectures focused on the theories and practices of Human-Centred Education. The course concluded with a peer-evaluation day when students reflected on their own learning and discussed how they might take some of the ideas to their own research and work. A high note was reached when one of the students burst into tears about her awakening to this humanising view of students and the potential such human-centred approach might have in transforming lives of children and the society.

On 16th October, 52 school principals and their key members of staff travelled from different corners of the country to attend a one-day lecture on HCE provided by both Dr Gill and Prof Gergen. This lecture was likewise appreciated by the Principals, but they felt this was only a beginning. Schools in China are eager to learn how to integrate HCE practices in classrooms.

“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find out who and what you are!” (student participant)

Saturday Satya is a co-curricular programme, originally designed and created in 2007 as part of the Eton-Slough-Hounslow Independent & State School Partnership initiative and Eton College’s Wisdom Project, with the support of the GHFP.

Satya is a Sanskrit word for ‘truth’ or ‘ultimate reality’ and refers to the virtue of being truthful in one’s thought, speech and action. Saturday Satya is a series of Saturday morning sessions in which a group of young people from diverse backgrounds are challenged and guided to explore their understandings of themselves, others and the world around them in more empowered and nuanced ways.

Saturday Satya supports students’ whole-person development and growth, enabling individuals to strengthen a sense of themselves and to gain an appreciation of others and their different perspectives. The programme’s activities enable the students to develop self-conceptions and personal identity through building understanding in three interrelated areas:

  • Understanding oneself: Students are more able to see themselves in new and more positive ways, such as feeling more confident and more creative, with a more positive self-image. 
  • Understanding others: Students get to know and understand individuals from different social and cultural backgrounds, which in turn helps them interrogate or develop their own perspectives, including learning to develop attitudes of acceptance and respect for differences.
  • Understanding one’s own orientation within the wider community: Students are enabled them to explore cultural roles and their own socio-political and religious orientation within or outside of these contexts.

In supporting the development of students’ self-conceptions and personal identity, the programme offers rich opportunities for students’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) development, as defined within OFSTED guidelines. 

Human-centred pedagogies embedded in the programme’s activities and the teacher-mentors’ practices play a pivotal part in supporting these learning opportunities and in creating rich and safe learning spaces:

  • A Pedagogy of Care: This involves the cultivation of genuine, human relationships between teacher-mentors and students, built on trust, respect and care. This approach to relationships, alongside an open and ‘no-right-answers’ approach to learning, helps to create safe and nurturing spaces where young people feel able to explore and examine their own and others’ ideas and perceptions without fear of failure or judgement. This ethos of the Saturday Satya is enriched by the teacher-mentors’ willingness to listen deeply to the voices of students and to care for and respect their individual needs.
  • A Pedagogy of Whole-Person Engagement: The activities of Saturday Satya are rich and diverse, engaging students on many different levels, and thereby supporting their whole-person development. Some activities engage students through their physical senses, some challenge them through their intellect and some invite them to explore their emotional landscapes. Still others engage their creativity and imagination and others prompt them to be reflective or encourage them to be contemplative.
  • A Pedagogy of Presence: Through meditative practices, silence and stillness, and activities which give students opportunities to bear witness to each other’s experiences, they are enabled to be truly present to the here and now. By leaving behind the pressures and anxieties of home and school life, and being able to engage fully with their experiences within the sessions, students are empowered to learn in engaged and meaningful ways. The teacher-mentors embody this presence, allowing themselves to be truly available to students, rather than ‘performing’ the role of a teacher.

In this way, the Saturday Satya’s pedagogical practices enable the teacher-mentors and students to live values which are fundamental to young people’s well-being in education.

The Saturday Satya programme provides participants with significant opportunities to learn and develop holistically, strengthening their sense of who they are and promoting an openness to otherness and an appreciation of diversity. The pedagogies of the programme feature respectful, caring, imaginative and open-minded approaches which help create safe spaces and enable students to explore different aspects of themselves and engage with others’ perspectives.

If you would be interested in developing Saturday Satya or a similar programme with young people in your school or area, please do get in touch via the website.

The GHFP’s HCE pilot in a school in La Tebaida, Colombia, is witnessing transformative experiences in their students. Mentoring sessions provide a safe space for students to share their lives in ways they have seldom done before. Students feel deeply touched by the care shown by the pastoral team; they feel their lives matter and their well-being is respected.

The teaching team engage in various ongoing professional learning and development activities, to support them to work together in a concerted way. These activities include:

  • Sharing their respective learning biographies as a basis for each teacher to articulate their personal ‘theorisation’ of learning and approaches to teaching. This sharing in turn helps bring teachers closer as their appreciation of each other’s narrative and life histories deepens. 
  • Forming mentoring partnership pairings. Pairs observe and provide feedback to each other on activity design, classroom teaching, and interaction with students.
  • Weekly meetings dedicated to reading HCE theories together and discussing how the key philosophical ideas might be relevant and applied to the school’s situation, especially in terms of how teachers relate to students. This weekly meeting is also a social time when the team share stories of the week over coffee. The message is clear: professional development is fun, enlivening and relaxing.

A Child’s Garden of Peace (ACGP)* is a collaborative effort to create gardens where children can play in peace. Children, parents, teachers and other members of the school community take part in developing the garden together. Once established, children will continue to work with others in nurturing the garden, learn to care for the plants, and grow food for themselves and their families. It is an excellent example of HCE in practice as it locates learning within community relationships and thereby enrich these relationships and in the processes of caring – caring for children’s learning and well-being, caring for the flourishing of the community, and caring for nature.

The GHFP sponsored the garden project (el huerto) in Puebla, Mexico. This is a collaboration with the Fundacion BP Casa Cuna Palafox y Mendoza, a child care center serving poor families with children aged 0 to 5. The garden is fully integrated in the daycare centre’s educational activities. The project engages children in all aspects of the garden, including composting food waste from the kitchen, planting vegetable gardens, herbs and fruit trees and collecting and making food. Young children learn first hand about the food they eat and explore the life cycle of nature.

*A Child’s Garden of Peace is founded and directed by Dr. Illène Pevec

On Wednesday 20th March, our HCE team in Brighton welcomed local Well-Being Leaders and Coordinators from across Brighton and Hove to join us for a twilight seminar on “A Whole School Approach to Well-Being in Secondary Schools“.

well-being_treeThe seminar offered an opportunity to explore and share good practices on well-being and inclusion and to make links with local colleagues. We began with an inspiring keynote from Professor Colleen McLaughlin, Director of Education Innovation at the University of Cambridge, to spark discussion and raise pertinent questions, followed by facilitated open dialogue and sharing, through which participants will be encouraged to develop a rich understanding and awareness of critical issues relating to student (and staff) well-being in secondary schools.

The event was free to attend, sponsored  by the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP), a Brighton based international think-tank dedicated to promoting well-being and whole-person learning. The GHFP is also the sponsor of the Human-Centred Education Programmes.

If you would be interested in attending or hosting a similar event in your school (or another setting!), please do get in contact via our website. We work with diverse teams to develop professional learning opportunites that are tailored to the needs and interests of the group, faciliating open dialogue spaces where staff can explore ideas and ask critical questions.