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Freedom to Learn

Freedom to Learn

By Freedom to Learn
Welcome to the Freedom to Learn Podcast! Celebrating freedom, autonomy and social justice in education. Find out more at:
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Home Education: Debunking the Myths, Exploring the Opportunities

Freedom to Learn

#DiverseEd - Virtual IV (Early Career Teachers)
#DiverseEd - Virtual IV (Early Career Teachers), which took place on  Sat 10 Apr 2021 celebrated and showcased the diversity, equality and inclusion at the heart of education. The theme for this event was visibility. Partner speakers from Phoenix Education Changemakers' Lab – Fatma Shami, Nykeda Bekoe-Amoako, Reese Marley Robinson, and Yumna Hussen.
May 17, 2021
Youth-Led Education Changemaking: Sharing Tools for Change
More and more young people are taking decisive action on the injustices we see around us, eschewing traditional structures like school council committees for more direct action. From climate strikes to decolonising the curriculum, students are demanding wholescale education transformation, building a case for tangible, meaningful, and shared activism; not just as individuals with a large social media following; not just tinkering around the edges; not just as a trend. This panel discussion was hosted by Simi Musa and Ava James from @not_a_trend, and we heard from: Jemmar Samuels @TheJemmar @thehalocltv Amy Meek @BePlasticClever Yumna Hussen @Yumna_Hussen Lottie Cooke @LottieCooke16 Click here for the Change Collective website
March 16, 2021
#DiverseEd Youth Panel
In a recent Changemakers' Lab action, Phoenix Education collaborated with Diverse Educators, Pupil Power, and Not a Trend in putting together the first ever student only panel at a DiverseEd event. This was also the first time that Diverse Ed had panelled student speakers which included: Aliyah York from @ThePupilPower, Ava James @avaajames, Ayah, Lottie Cooke @LottieCooke16 and Simi Musa @not_a_trend. Listen up to hear calls for the representation of young people in education decision-making spaces, unapologetic sharing of experiences of school and the education system, the scrapping of student councils to make way for less performative and more representative and critical ways of hearing  students' voices. You will also hear visions for 21st century education  that is democratic, transparent and honest, that supports students' interests and plays to their strengths.
January 26, 2021
Podcasting for Changemaking
Join this workshop with Gem Kennedy, creator of the Queers & Co. podcast, as she shares how and why podcasting can help your activism, offers practical tips, and guides you in exploring how to create your own. Gem Kennedy is a transformational practitioner, activist and founder of Queers & Co., a network for queer folks and allies making social change. Her work focuses around the themes of self-empowerment, body liberation and activism. The Changemakers Lab is a two year program run by Phoenix Education supporting 14-18 year olds campaigning to reform the education system to better reflect their needs and rights.
December 18, 2020
Taking Action: Activism in public spaces
Protests, flyer-bombing, flash-mobs, ad-hacking, sit-ins - what are some effective uses of direct action to further a campaign and why, and when, are they successful? When aren't they? An interactive discussion and workshop with Changemakers Lab on examples of direct action and how to make effective use of it. The Changemakers Lab is a two year program run by Phoenix Education supporting 14-18 year olds campaigning to reform the education system to better reflect their needs and rights.
December 18, 2020
Self-Care, Burn-out, and Going the Distance
Sophie Christophy explores self care and avoiding burn out as a Change Maker. Change-making is demanding work, that can take it's toll on body, mind and soul, and without self-care and burnout awareness, it is hard for activists to persist in their work in a healthy way. In this session the group explores: What self-care means and why it's so important. Our own stories and experiences on this theme. What burn-out is, so that we can recognise it's signs and symptoms in ourselves and others, What our own self-care and burn-out aware practice might look like. The Changemakers Lab is a two year program run by Phoenix Education supporting 14-18 year olds campaigning to reform the education system to better reflect their needs and rights.
December 18, 2020
Listening, researching and having one-to-one conversations
How do you know that the issue you are campaigning on is going to be  meaningful for the people affected? How do you reach out to affected  communities? And how do you keep listening to and building your team? This is a Changemakers Lab discussion and workshop on conducting listening campaigns, research, and the power of one-to-one conversations  - the backbone of any campaign. The Changemakers Lab is a two year program run by Phoenix Education supporting 14-18 year  olds campaigning to reform the education system to better reflect their needs and rights.
December 18, 2020
Storytelling for Change
What is the role of story-telling in campaigns? And how can we  develop and use our own stories (and the stories of others) to make change? A Changemakers Lab discussion and workshop on the power of  storytelling, and how to use our stories as effective tools to further  and win campaigns - plus how to work with the stories of others in an  appropriate, sensitive and empowering way! All welcome. The Changemakers Lab is a two year program run by Phoenix Education supporting 14-18 year olds campaigning to reform the education system to better reflect their needs and rights. 
December 18, 2020
What Does the Research Tell Us?
Joanna Merrett from Exeter University presents her recent research into home education, and what it reveals about families' motivations for choosing home education. This is followed by an open discussion about why we need more research into home education.
December 18, 2020
Home Education: Debunking the Myths, Exploring the Opportunities
Presented by Brittany Burton:, Facebook/Insta @ourthrivinghivelondon. During lockdown families got a peek (and I mean a tiny  glimpse) into the world of homeschooling. But doing "school at home” is a  lot different from a thriving home education. If you’re on the fence about continuing to home educate (whether due to C-19 or because your children have enjoyed learning at home), or perhaps have friends and family that may still not fully understand your decision to homeschool, I invite you to join me for this talk. We will be shedding light on some of the most common myths surrounding homeschooling: Myth 1: Children can't learn if they are not in school. Myth 2: Children who are not in school will not know how to socialise. Myth 3: Children will fall behind and not have as many opportunities as their schooled peers. Myth 4: I will go crazy if I stay at home with my children. Myth 5: I cannot afford to home educate.
December 18, 2020
Passion Led Learning
Heidi Steel guides us through identifying children's interests, valuing those pursuits as a mode of learning, and how learning connections grow. Click here for the slides.
December 16, 2020
Storytelling for Wellbeing and Creativity
Episode hosted by Carol Whibley, Certified Play Therapist from Blue Whale Play Therapy. Find out how you can use sand tray and symbols to explore our personal stories and  exploring how these stories can develop into artwork, animation, film  making, script writing, creative writing. Slides here.
December 16, 2020
Youth Activism 101
This episode is a discussion about how young people can get involved in changing the things they no longer want to accept. Learn tips and tricks and listen to the stories of other young activists. This episode was created by members of Changemakers Lab, a two year program run by Phoenix Education supporting 14-18 year olds campaigning to reform the education system to better reflect their needs and rights. 
December 07, 2020
Join Deborah McCahon from to hear how Woodcraft Folk adapted during Covid-19 lockdown to deliver online and remote programme activities. Explore how you can benefit from their learning and possibly contribute to their ongoing programme activities. For more information see:
December 07, 2020
Freedom to Be Exceptional For Visual Learners
Visual learners often struggle with a purely auditory strategy taught for literacy in school. Creative, imaginative students invariably have great mental images that can dramatically improve literacy, numeracy,  concentration and so much more, when under control. Listen to this episode and try out for yourself how your own mental images improve your visual learning.
December 07, 2020
The 20% Project for Schools
This episode is hosted by Derry Hannam and Polly Cheer. They argue that state-funded schools, both primary and secondary, should be encouraged to allocate at least 10% of curriculum time to be negotiated around the interests of the students and staff.  This would allow time for individual or collaborative self-directed education, with the teachers being available as facilitators or ‘experts’ if their services were requested by the students. Some links to resources mentioned in the episode: 20% A Modest Proposal Progressive Education Derry’s book: Becoming a Democratic Teacher in a State School XP School, Doncaster East Kent Sudbury School School 21
December 07, 2020
Becoming a Democratic Teacher in a State School
A presentation and discussion about Derry Hannam's newly published book 'Another Way Is Possible: Becoming a Democratic Teacher in a State  School' a presentation by the Author Derry Hannam, followed by a group discussion.
December 07, 2020
We Research
Consider all the wonderful ways that you and those around you can become researchers in education. Hosted by Meera Chudasama, an English  Media and Film Studies teacher with a passion for practitioner research,  this episode delves into how children, teachers and parents can take part in the research process and even conduct their own inquiries. The group considers the collaborative aspects of education research; seeing the value in what  can be achieved when working together.
December 07, 2020
Address the Harm: Self-Directed Learning for Decolonisation
Adele Jarrett-Kerr presents thought-starters on how self-directed education can play a part in ousting colonial thinking. The aim of this episode is to acknowledge the violence at work in coercive education and explore how we can recentre learning to disrupt systems that cause harm. Find out more about Adele's work here.
December 04, 2020
Online Social Action with Woodcraft Folk
An interactive session with young people aged 10-18, hosted by Tommaso Segantini from Woodcraft Folk, to critically think about the media and how they portray news. Together the group look at fake news and emotional manipulation. See the slides here.
December 01, 2020
How to Set Up a Self-Directed Learning Community
A Q&A discussion hosted by Artemis D. Bear, Founder of The Garden, with panelists: Kezia Cantwell-Wright, Founder and Staff Member at East Kent Sudbury School Ellie Smallcombe, Lead Facilitator and Responsible Individual for Coed Cariad and Traed Bach Mwdlyd Kelly Humphrey, Founder of The Willows Sophie Christophy, Co-Founder and Facilitator at The Cabin Lucy Hazell, Lead Facilitator and Co-founding Director at Tipi Woods Rowan Salim, Facilitator and Co-Founding Director at Free We Grow
December 01, 2020
Changing our Minds: The Psychology of Self-Directed Learning
View the full video on youtube here. Why and how does self-directed education work? In this talk, Naomi  Fisher explains how psychological research supports self-directed learning, and show how schooling pits us against our own psychology.
December 01, 2020
Raising Revolutionaries
In this episode Sophie Lovett explores the question of how self-directed education can empower children to create a better future. You can see more about Sophie's work here! [Please note: there are a few small blips in the recording]
November 30, 2020
Coercion and Consent in Schools
20th November is World Children’s Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It coincides with the launch of School Differently, a social movement which questions whether the English education system is fit for purpose… This episode is the audio recording of an event that took place on 18th Nov 2020, in support of the School Differently launch and in recognition of children’s rights, hosted by Phoenix Education. We drew attention to the degree to which young people are asked for their  consent at school. How is coercion used to control the school  environment and young people in particular, and what are the impacts of  this? How might things might be different? Listen now to hear the panel as they share their thoughts, explore key questions, and take part in Q&A and discussion. Panel: Tumi led a participatory action research project called 'Breaking the Silence' with States of Mind.  The two year research project explored students views on their  experiences within education and particularly, the impact of the  education system on young people's identity and mental health. Amira Hamrat attends Summerhill, a school known as the oldest children's democracy in the world, and where young people aged 5-17 choose for themselves how to use their time, create the rules they need, and chair whole school meetings where problems can be raised and decisions made.  Simi Musa  and Ava James attend sixth forms London, are co-founders of anti-racism campaign group Not a Trend, and are education activists participating in Changemakers' Lab. Changemakers' Lab collaborates with young people working towards  changing schools and the education system to better meet their needs and rights. Fran Morgan is the Founder of Square Peg,  a Community Interest Company working to effect change for children who face barriers to school attendance and their families. Square Peg is working with Independent Thinking to launch School Differently and aims to connect groups and individuals who believe that the current education system is not fit for purpose Jess Gribble attended Sands School, a democratic school with the slogan 'The Alternative Face of Education'. She has recently taken a masters at UCL's IOE, and has experience promoting student leadership practices from her career teaching in mainstream schools Sophie Christophy is the CEO of Phoenix Education and co-founder of a consent-based and self-directed education setting for children aged 5-11
November 26, 2020
Ask the Headteacher - How Can We Change Our Schools?
In this episode, headteacher Mark Pritchard takes questions from students on how they can go about raising issues in their schools, and be influential in making change happen. How can students and headteachers work together to bring about positive change? This session is co-hosted by Simi Musa. Simi is a 16-year-old student from South East London, and is part of Changemakers’ Lab as well as one of the founders Not a Trend. Simi is extremely passionate about many social issues and is a part of projects surrounding topics such as student voice, anti-racism and mental health and social care for  young people. One of her main aims is to achieve equity in society using an intersectional approach.
November 23, 2020
Universities and Activism
How can University research contribute to radical changemaking in education? Listen in to this episode for an audience led discussion on how academic research can fuel the movement for liberated learning and social justice in education, with past and present academics and activists Max Hope, Martin Mills and Freya Aquarone. Max has a passion and energy for transforming the education system. The first fifteen years of her professional life were spent in the community and voluntary sector, largely working with socially excluded and disadvantaged young people who were disengaged from education. Her frustration and anger at the way that they had been failed by the system led her to becoming a university academic at the University of Hull, undertaking research about inclusive education, equalities, freedom, democracy and social justice. Her recent book, Reclaiming Freedom in Education (Routledge) was published in 2018. She is the Chair of Trustees at Phoenix Education and defines herself as an academic, a facilitator, an educator, a researcher, an activist, and a writer. Martin is a former high school teacher, and Professor and the  Director of the Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research at the  Institute of Education, UCL. He is committed to struggles seeking to  create a socially just education system – and a more socially just  world. Recent books include Re-engaging young people in education:  learning from alternative schools (2014); Reimagining schooling for  education (2017); Alternative education: International perspectives on  policy and practice (2018); and Autonomy, accountability and social  justice: stories of English schooling (2019). He grew up in England, but  has spent most of his life living in Australia. they attended mainstream primary schools until the age of 10, and then spent two years at Summerhill (the radical democratic school in  Suffolk founded by A.S. Neill) where they spent a lot of time climbing  trees, being in plays, and doing algebra. Freya has worked in a number  of educational contexts including a Pupil Referral Unit, democratic  schools, and residential camps. They are currently doing an ESRC-funded  PhD at King's College London which focuses on participatory democracy in  schools and its significance for social justice, particularly for  marginalised students. Freya also teaches on the BA Social Science  programme at King's, which is run along quasi-democratic lines. Samira is a university student studying the BA Social Sciences  programme at King's College London. Within the course she has been a  facilitator for the Course Community Meetings (quasi-democratic meetings  which students and staff use to discuss issues and make decisions about  the programme). She has an interest towards inequalities within the  education system and higher-education, particularly with reference to  race and class. Samira has been working with Freya on a research project  reviewing the Social Sciences programme at King's and how it is  committed in trying to create social change and justice within the  university landscape and beyond and the challenges faced when attempting  to do so. Samira attended a comprehensive non-selective state school  throughout her education, finding navigating her way through the  education system to be difficult. She is therefore passionate about  shifting the existing education paradigm. The discussion is hosted by Rowan Salim, programs lead at Phoenix  Education, founder and facilitator at Free We Grow, and supporter of the  ecoversities network, where learners and communities are reclaiming  diverse knowledges, relationships and imaginations to design new approaches to higher education.
November 23, 2020
Creative Ecosystems in Education
Addressing the need to examine the whole educational ecosystem, with Nia Richards.  To develop expansive and creative opportunities in education, we need to consider wider issues. In this episode, Nia Richards presents Creative Systems in Education: addressing the need to examine the whole ecosystem including  values, purpose, practice, leadership and community. Slides here  Links mentioned in the episode:
November 23, 2020
Education Policy Making: Peeking Behind the Curtain
Olly Newton spent 10 years in the Department for Education working on policies including 14-19 Diplomas, schools, raising the participation age, traineeships and apprenticeships. He now runs independent education charity The Edge Foundation, which supports education to become more relevant for the twenty-first century. In this session, he shares what it’s really like to be involved in policy making and how you can best influence policy change, with questions from Aliyah York from Pupil Power.
November 23, 2020
Exploring Mutual Aid in Education
Exploring examples of mutual aid practiced in both formal and informal education, with Katie Shaw @sewdarngood. More information: Mutual Aid is a practice associated with Social Anarchism, where participants commit to the idea, ethics and practice that promotes ‘solidarity and voluntary-cooperation’ through an understanding of our own interdependence and that our survival is dependent on mutual cooperation. Slides here.
November 23, 2020
Diverse Educators
In this panel discussion, hosted by Hannah Wilson, educators who are driving change in the grassroots space discuss how the systems and  structures in schools need to change. How can schools become more inclusive and celebrate the diversity of their communities to bring about positive change? The panelists are: Nick Bentley - @LGBTedUK Ruth Golding and Bennie Kara  - @DisabilityEdUK Penny Rabiger and Allana Gay - @BAMEedNetwork You can see the video webinar here:
November 16, 2020
Super-powered: Finding the benefits of Neurodiversity
Axe and Sarah share from their personal experiences the unique skills, talents and advantages their neurodiversities brings to their lives. As an adult who was diagnosed with ADHD at 35, Alexie Staffer embraced his diagnosis and the prescribed medication that allows his to channel his attention. Alexie is joined by Sarah who was recently diagnosed with autism in her 30's. Starting with an an overview of how they found their superpowers and what that might look like for the people around them, Alexie and Sarah introduce some of the current understanding of the neurobiology responsible for ADHD and Autism. See the slides here:
November 16, 2020
UK Schools Are Racist. Now What?
Is there a way for schools to become anti-racist? Or is racism too  deeply ingrained in the Education System? Not a Trend, a youth-led organisation, hosted a panel discussion at this year's Freedom to Learn Forum around decolonising the  curriculum, making schools anti-racist, and finding alternative spaces/avenues for Black and other BIPOC students in education. This is a space for people of all ages and races to think about and ask questions about racism in education. Part of the Phoenix Education Changemakers Lab programme
November 16, 2020
How to See the Child Not Just the Diagnosis
A mother's story of how her child's complex needs reconnected her to be the parent and teacher she always knew she was and wanted to be. Eliza Fricker is a mother, designer and illustrator and writes about her  experiences of navigating the education system with a child who has  autism and anxiety. See the slides accompanying Eliza's talk here.
November 16, 2020