Saturday, July 11, 2015

Redbridge Schools Fairness Conference

On Thursday I went to Beal High School in Clayhall to observe a conference run by Redbridge Schools on "Fairness".

I am a member of the Redbridge Council Fairness Commission which has been set up to investigate poverty and inequality in the Borough and what the Council and its partners can do about it. 
set up to investigate poverty and inequality in Redbridge and look at how the Council and its partners are taking action to address it. - See more at: http://www2.redbridge.gov.uk/cms/the_council/public_meetings/fairness_commission.aspx#sthash.Fob7WwQK.dpuf
set up to investigate poverty and inequality in Redbridge and look at how the Council and its partners are taking action to address it. - See more at: http://www2.redbridge.gov.uk/cms/the_council/public_meetings/fairness_commission.aspx#sthash.Fob7WwQK.dpuf
set up to investigate poverty and inequality in Redbridge and look at how the Council and its partners are taking action to address it. - See more at: http://www2.redbridge.gov.uk/cms/the_council/public_meetings/fairness_commission.aspx#sthash.Fob7WwQK.dpuf

The conference had around 100 pupils aged 14-17 and teachers from all over Redbridge. It was an opportunity for young people to discuss and debate "Fairness" and let us know what they think. Co-chair of the Commission, Cllr Mark Santos, opened the conference and told us that one of his favourite quotes was from former Prime Minster, Gordon Brown, that Inequality should not be woven into the fabric of our lives". 

The main facilitators were Phoebe and Jake from the social justice group "The Spark", who were entertaining and informative. They led the activities, workshops and debates. I think everyone present enjoyed their enthusiasm and zeal for social justice even if I thought there could have been a little more balance and objectivity at times. 

I was very impressed by the young students present who were articulate and confident with a wide knowledge of current affairs. The most lively debate was actually about grammar schools with those for and against (there are 2 grammar schools still in Redbridge) passionate in their beliefts but still eloquent.

The final session was a brainstorming about "how can we make Redbridge fairer?" . The feedback was wide ranging: - a mass of analysis and ideas. I picked up "improve relations between different communities, promote a sense of unity, work experience hub, tackle age divide, teach practical financial skills, a swimming pool in Seven Kings, more youth clubs and greater community cohesion".

The full feedback will be fed back to all the Commissioners and at the end Cllr Santos thanked everyone for being part of such a great event and made it clear that the Commission will respond to all their ideas and suggestions.

(picture by Banksy used in photo activity)
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