State Education

13 March 13

Posted at 5:57

I'm sure you've heard it at some time or other. How bad our state education system is. How our inner city, multi ethnicity schools are out of control, poor teachers, standards and so on. I don't often see the system first hand so my information comes from various second hand sources. Well today I had the privilege to shoot a workshop being attended by around 30 pupils from a West London lower school in what would be described as a deprived area. If you look at my blog regularly you will be aware that I often take on photography projects for Foundations UK   a charity aimed at guiding young people to sustainable health. Often I work with children and adults with learning difficulties or severe disadvantages but occasionally, like today, I photograph workshops around cooking and healthy eating with mainstream school children. Today's workshop was run by another charity, intouniversity  and supported by Foundations staff ( and indeed some Princes Trust volunteers) for the food preparation and cooking sessions. The workshop was held in a church hall so was a trip out of school for the children.

I am not blogging on the actual workshop, maybe another time, and I only have one image to share today (so hardly a photo blog!). I just want to comment on the experience I had as it differs so much from the common perception of state schools in our cities today. As I said earlier I was photographing just the food preparation activity. I was with the kids, their teachers and volunteers for around three hours. The children were incredibly well behaved, courteous and very enthusiastic. They were the melting pot mix of ethnic origins that you would expect in West London. Their communications skills in English were simply excellent without exception. Halfway through the session there was a break and the children had their packed lunches. Again I'll blow away another myth, their lunches consisted of what I would describe as healthy and balanced and, other than some not chosing to eat the crusts on sandwiches,everything was consumed. I chatted with some of the children as they ate their lunch, mainly about the workshop and I answered questions about my camera. As the room was tidied up in preparation for the afternoon session I noticed this girl...


....she appeared to be diligently reading a Spanish/English dictionary, of her own accord, as the children relaxed post their lunch. I asked her if she was learning Spanish and if she spoke any other languages. She is eleven years old. I was amazed when she told me, in her perfect English, that she was fluent in Arabic and French in addition to English (which she didn't class as a language as she saw it as her 'Mother toungue'). I was amazed and really impressed. A bunch of such highly motivated, educated and balanced children from  a state school in an inner city. You'll never read this in the Daily Mail so I thought I'd give it a mention here. Big respect to the communities, teachers and young generation in West London and of course to Foundations UK and intouniversity