The School Should Be Podcast
By Zahara Chowdhury
A discussion of all the things we wish we knew, learned and discussed at school. From wellbeing to finance, prejudice to the school system...our aim is to give students, teachers and professionals a voice to discuss what they think school should be for our teachers, students and communities. We want school to be a place where students want to go, teachers enjoy teaching and communities see the true value of these institutions. That is only possible with these conversations. So grab a coffee, listen in and let us know your thoughts!
How can schools be safe and inclusive environments for all students and staff? Exploring diversity and inclusion in education
Nic Ponsford, Co-Founder and the CEO, Education, of the Global Equality Collective, a movement and community of over 15 000 and a Collective of over 450 diversity, equality and inclusion subject matter experts, joins me to talk about how schools can integrate effective diversity and inclusion education in a sustainable and effective manner. The GEC has designed and launched the world’s first app for diversity and inclusion, which provides workplaces and schools with necessary D&I research and data, education, resources and advice - all tailored and relevant to the organisation's needs. Nic was also a secondary school leader and is a digital education specialist, and now an education and technology thought leader. Nominated for national diversity and inclusion awards in 2020 and 2021, Nic has long been an inclusion activist for adults and students. The GEC brings together an array of experience, expertise and knowledge to ensure diversity and inclusion are not something organisations just 'do' and tick off; rather, the GEC aims to make D&I an embedded and integrated, working part of every organisation and its stakeholders too. Nic talks to me about her experiences in schools, how she managed integrating diversity and inclusion practices in her leadership, systems and processes, and how schools can overcome certain barriers associated with effective diversity and inclusion education, from environment, demography and parents too. Follow the GEC on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
August 15, 2021
A Headteacher's perspective: how can we create great school cultures for students, teachers and parents?
Meena Wood, MBA Ed Leadership, FRSA, is an Education Consultant & Trainer, former HMI Ofsted Inspector, Secondary Academy Principal, Principal of Adult Education, DfE & LA Education Advisor. Meena joins me to talk about what makes a great school culture and how schools can embed healthy, effective and successful school cultures into their everyday working practices, environments, staff body and students. Culture is everything for any organisation - it is what defines an identity, an organisation's values, ethos and their output too; this is most certainly no different for a school, especially when it comes to student wellbeing, academic success and staff wellbeing too. Meena is an inspirational leader with an array of experience in working with schools and students to help enhance and build strong cultures for the benefit of students, staff and their parents. Meena shares her experiences with me along with her experiences as an Ofsted Inspector to provide a real insight into how every school can be great for students, no matter where they are or what school they choose to go to. It's so important we overcome a postcode lottery when it comes to schooling and developing a great school culture is perhaps a key part of making this possible. Meena has recently co-authored a book Secondary Curriculum Tranformed: Enabling All to Achieve, which can help headteachers and teachers across the country and beyond create a highly successful, efficient and rich, skills-based and values-led curriculum for all - it should be on reading lists for teacher training, worldwide!
August 2, 2021
What should we know about teaching and learning in Pakistan? Deconstructing dominant narratives and adopting a curious mindset
Anusheh Attique is a teacher, mentor and innovator in curriculum design and training and development in Pakistan. This conversation is such an energetic, lively, engaging and authentic discussion of everything school should be: learning about different perspectives, unlearning our biases and understanding to listen and empathise with compassion, curiosity and an open mind. Anusheh speaks to me about schooling in Pakistan, decolonising the curriculum, the sheer importance of teaching students humanity and understanding and why education is such an important and foundational tool for success no matter where you are in the world. A truly uplifting, informative and heart-warming discussion on how students should learn, how we should teach and how we can all connect as students across the world.
July 26, 2021
How can we create a positive body image experience for teenage boys at school?
This week, I speak to Harry Moore, Business Management graduate with a Masters in Psychology...and a fitness professional of over 10 years. Harry is founder of Team for Never Lean, a platform of over 19k subscribers, that aims to discuss and centralise topics and discussions that can often make the fitness industry feel like an uncomfortable place. Team For Never Lean is are centred on research and aims to dispel misinformation about fitness and exercise in order to make fitness and health accessible for everyone. Harry talks to me about his own school experiences with fitness and how schools, teachers and students themselves can normalise conversations around male body image, a topic that is perhaps not explored enough, especially for impressionable teenagers. The conversation takes many turns and in essence, Harry shares simple yet effective advice on how we can move away from aesthetic body image goals for young people and focus on a holistic approach to mental, physical and emotional health - something all students need to do for their wellbeing.
July 19, 2021
The Double X Economy: academic and economic barriers for women - a student perspective
Noor-ul-Huda Sheikh and Liberty Thomas, both university students join me to discuss Linda Scott's excellent book, The Double X Economy, in which Scott explores the level of global, female 'economic subordination'. In her book, Scott draws upon an array of sources from her own research and data, to her own exchanges with women in Ghana, Bangladesh and in the US. The book is fascinating and a wonderful read, especially for students aged 17 and above; as Scott says, reading the book is activism in itself and you cannot help but be compelled to work towards global economic equality for women...it really is better for all of us, politically, socially and economically too. Noor, a French and Business student and Liberty, an aero engineering student, both attended an all girls' comprehensive school. Now at university, we discuss the impact the book has had on their own thinking and how schools can tailor teaching, learning and school culture to enable equality of opportunities for female students. They draw upon their own experiences along with their experiences in their student leadership roles. Both students are studying very different subjects and they explore the impact of studying STEM based subjects for young women at school too. A wonderful conversation, which is of great benefit to those young people and schools interested in Scott's work, justice and equality for women and how we can academically and economically empower women from a young age.
July 11, 2021
Gender diversity: how can we address gender stereotypes from an early age in the classroom and beyond?
Bilkis Miah is Co-founder and CEO of You Be You, an award-winning organisation working with primary schools and parents to address and break down gender stereotypes and encourage students to embrace their individual identities. Bilkis explores how teachers and students can address gender stereotypes from as young as 5 and why schools need to challenge gender stereotypes if we are to create equitable opportunities for younger generations and beyond. In this podcast episode, Bilkis talks to me about particular gender stereotypes students, parents and teachers can challenge; how teachers can begin conversations around gender diversity in the classroom, and parents/ family can help their children in the home environment. We explore the importance of identity, intersectionality and gender education on the curriculum - and how it can make the world of difference to the opportunities available and accessible for all students. Bilkis, originally working in management consultancy in the City, discovered early on that although successful in her own career, there were few that represented her identity as a female, British-Bangladeshi woman in leadership. We now see most companies aiming to diversify their workforce and encourage people of all genders to rise to the 'top' when it comes to career success; however, this must be addressed early on if we are to sustain a non-tokenistic approach to gender diversity in our societies. You Be You workshops, resources and CPD training for schools are backed by prominent research and expert advice. Bilkis and her team have successfully led pilot schemes in primary schools which have resulted in a 38% decrease in young girls thinking certain jobs are just for boys and a 52% increase in young children thinking it's ok for girls to play with trucks. It is these 'simple' notions that we need to address from a young age to normalise limitless opportunities for all children, which is the purpose and motive behind You Be You's work with primary school children and primary school teachers.
July 4, 2021
How can literacy be taught in schools in a post-pandemic world?
Sarah Ledger, Director at Lexonik, talks to me about how we can teach literacy skills and education in schools and how we can make literacy about more than just spelling, punctuation and grammar. An award-winning company that works with schools, students, teachers and homeschoolers, Lexonik provides unique resources and transformational programmes to ensure every single individual can access literacy education. Their programmes help students in the UK and beyond to raise attainment and learn the skills they need to reach their potential, all through a confident approach to literacy. Sarah speaks to me about the rise in digital literacy and how students can still integrate the foundations of literacy in all areas of their education. We talk about Lexonik's response to the government's concerns around literacy and student learning gaps as a result of the pandemic. We also discuss ways in which reading and writing skills can be accessed by everyone, of every age, regardless of context. As Sarah says, the ability to read is a human right; it is empowering, necessary and something that every individual is entitled too. Learning to read and write isn't just for an exam, but can make a difference to your quality of life and choices, which is why the work Lexonik do with schools to people in prison is so necessary for our society. We also speak about Hull University's decision to not mark against poor spelling, and founder of Lexonik, Katy, shared her views with the School Should Be blog, which can be read here.
June 28, 2021
Sustainability: what is it and why should we care?
Louise is a university student, studying Business and Sociology. Currently on placement as a sustainability and business development intern, Louise has a keen interest in sustainability, micro choices we can make on a daily basis to have a positive impact on the planet and our lives. Sustainability and our need to take care of our environments and planet is an urgent necessity that all of us need to pay attention to. Thankfully, Generation Z and those at school are paving the way, however sometimes it's difficult to know where to start and what we can do, especially as it is not a topic that is taught so widely in school. In this episode, Louise explains what sustainability is and what schools and students can do to lead a practical, sustainable lifestyle.
June 22, 2021
Opportunity and the Education System: A Student's Point of View
Jack Allsopp an Oxford graduate with a first class honours in History and a master's in Global and Imperial History. He attended a leading grammar school and achieved an excellent set of grades. Nearly 5 years on and now part of a programme management graduate scheme at a fantastic company, Jack wrote a blog post for School Should Be, reflecting on his experiences as a student. The blog was honest, nuanced and in many ways uncomfortable to read from a teacher's and parent's perspective. Although Jack effectively played out the 'schooling dream', the reality of his experiences is very different to what we might expect of a student who shines bright with academic success. After reading his blog piece I asked Jack if he. would be willing to discuss his experiences and thoughts further. This podcast is everything school should be - an honest, tangent-filled chat on what school should be, how to enable equity and Jack's own views of schooling - neither successful nor unsuccessful, just his personal views which I think students, parents and teachers will benefit from, especially as we think about the future of the education system, school culture and student wellbeing.
June 16, 2021
How can we have conversations about Israel and Palestine in the classroom?
Sharon Booth, founder of Solutions Not Sides, an organisation that facilitates a range of excellent workshops, resources and discussions for 15-18 year olds on Palestine and Israel. In this podcast, Sharon and I discuss the language students can use when talking about Palestine-Israel, some key points to note when the topic of Israel-Palestine comes up in classroom discussion, student and teacher wellbeing, especially their safety, in these discussions and how students can be positively active in their desires to prevent racism, prejudice and to build bridges in our communities too. During an SNS workshop, schools and students will hear from Palestinian and Israeli voices to discuss the history, political climate, context, lived experiences and so much more about Israel and Palestine. SNS teaches students how to use critical thinking tools, empathy and how students can challenge prejudice here in the UK. Recently, SNS has been highlighted by the Secretary of State for Education as an organisation that can help schools address antisemitism around the issue of Israel and Palestine. SNS believes it is equally important to address Islamophobia and also has had many firsthand experiences of addressing Islamophobia around this issue in the classroom. The core outcomes a school can expect from an SNS workshop are: Humanisation and empathy Ability to embrace complexity and diversity rather than feeling threatened by it Empowerment through the acquisition of skills, confidence and knowledge to influence others School Should Be encourages students and teachers to take part in SNS’s #iftheycanwecan campaign on social media platforms. The campaign provides a platform for Palestinian and Israeli voices that are often not heard here in the UK; the campaign aims to bring global attention, support and to help activists and organisations in Israel and Palestine who are working for peace, an end to racism, violence, prejudice and dehumanisation. For more information to see how you and your school can get involved, please visit: https://solutionsnotsides.co.uk/blog/2021/IfTheyCanWeCan Sharon provides a great starting point in the podcast with some excellent resources, all signposted during our conversations. All secondary schools will benefit from SNS's input and their workshops help create transparent, diverse and inclusive school cultures, which we want all schools to embrace.
June 6, 2021
How can social media be used as a positive, complementary force for students and teachers?
Simranjeet Kaur Mann is a trainee solicitor for a top 20 law firm, a content creator and a vlogger. A previous Head Girl when at secondary school, Simran's YouTube channel has amassed over 100k views in one year, since she started it at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Simran's vlogs and content are predominantly to support, inform and advise future students interested in vacation schemes, careers in law and how to successfully 'student well' at university. Simran is a fine example of how a student and now young professional can manage a conventional career path and a social media presence - one she does with grace, humility and some entertaining banter along the way too. She has a lot to teach and show the next generation (and even generations before her!) whilst keeping it real and maintaining some sense of mindful adulting too! Simran speaks to me about all things social media and school, how students and teachers can work with digital platforms and how we can foster more inclusive communities in schools too. This podcast has to be one of my favourites, an authentic conversation with plenty of life lessons and laughs along the way too - I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
June 1, 2021
The personal is political: uncomfortable conversations about womanhood in the classroom
Leila is a Human, Social and Political Sciences student at The University of Cambridge. An advocate for equitable rights, diverse and equal opportunities, Leila wrote an open letter to her school after the tragic disappearance and death of Sarah Everard, regarding the treatment of female students, addressing school culture and behaviour policies that can perpetuate misogynistic tendencies, common to several societal institutions and often an area of unconscious bias. Leila's letter went viral on Twitter and in response, over 500 students got in touch with her with their stories too. A necessary and uncomfortable conversation, Leila and I talk about how schools can embrace and normalise conversations about womanhood, and the change in narrative that schools need in order to be wholly inclusive and enabling. A fascinating conversation, we talk about A LOT and ultimately, Leila challenges the notion of political discussion: a lot of the time, it isn't a political discussion that needs to be quelled, it is a personal, authentic conversation that must be enabled to effect change for the betterment of society.
May 27, 2021
How can schools have conversations about race to tackle prejudice in schools?
Uju Asika is an award-nominated blogger and founder of parenting blog - Babes About Town. She is also a creative consultant and founder of Mothers and Shakers, a digital consultancy building connections between female entrepreneurs and supporting women in business within the digital space. Most recently, Uju has written the wonderful and much needed book, Bringing Up Race, teaching parents, teachers, adults, carers - all of us - how to (quite literally) ‘raise a kind child in a prejudice world’ ...perhaps if we all look to follow its teaching, we may find ourselves one day, in an unprejudiced world. Uju talks to me about how schools, classrooms, teachers, students and parents can create a culture of racial equity, whilst normalising uncomfortable conversations about race in schools. She explains how teachers and schools can address race conversations and how behaviour policies and diversity and inclusion policies can ensure all students feel accepted, confident, seen and heard. Uju is available to talk to school leaders and teachers about her book - feel free to get in touch with her: https://babesabouttown.com/about/contact-us/
May 23, 2021
Why should students focus on their wellbeing more than academic success?
Aaron Pandher, Wellbeing and fashion blogger, final year university student and once a Head Boy at a leading secondary school tells us about how he has managed his wellbeing and academic success throughout his teen years. He explains why he thinks student centred wellbeing should be put before academic success, how he has achieved it and why other students should prioritise their wellbeing routines. We discuss everything from morning routines to wellness privilege too. A refreshing, informative and useful episode for all students looking to put their emotional health first - and so they should! Find out more from Aaron at https://www.aaronpandher.com/
May 11, 2021
How do introverts learn best in the classroom?
Sophie Morris, an introvert expert and coach, tells us all about the best ways to teach introverts in the classroom and how introverted teenagers learn best too. 50% of the population are introverts, yet we seem to operate in an extroverted world. Given that school is also a fairly extroverted environment, it's not good enough to say students need to speak up more in lessons, raise their hands or take leading roles more often. Introverts can learn just as well as extroverts and Sophie Morris tells us exactly how. If you're interested in being coached by Sophie or would like her to provide training at your school or workplace, please get in touch: quietosophy.com
May 2, 2021
Why should students learn about politics at school and how can teachers integrate it into their lessons?
Leo Carr, founder of Study Politics, a platform that provides A level revision and learning resources for all politics students and teachers, tells us about why students need to learn about politics at school and how it can have a positive impact on their perspectives, discussions and learning experiences overall. Leo was part of the first cohort of year 13 students to have their exams cancelled in 2020 as a result of Covid-19. Instead of letting all of his notes and learning go to waste, he taught himself how to create a website, start a business and is now working with a multitude of students and schools to support their politics education! You can find out more about Leo @studypoliticsuk and www.studypolitics.co.uk
May 2, 2021