Education

Education

Education

Introduction

Our Covid-19 Action Fund provided grants for Churchill Fellows to run projects combating the effects of Covid-19 in all areas of society. Hundreds of pandemic projects nationwide are being run or assisted by Churchill Fellows, using the international expertise they gained during their Fellowships overseas. Here are the Action Fund recipients working on issues relating to education.

January 2022 awards

Ian Brown: engaging primary school children through farm life

Ian Brown (CF 2019) is the Chair of Ouseburn Farm Charity in Newcastle, which provides the local community with opportunities to learn about nature through engagement with farm life. During the pandemic, the farm has been in discussion with local schools about ways they can help vulnerable children in the community who are struggling to reintegrate into school life since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Ian will use his grant to design and deliver a pilot project for local disadvantaged primary school children who are experiencing social, emotional or mental health needs caused by the pandemic. Over a six-week period, 16 students will visit the farm weekly and engage in animal-assisted therapeutic techniques and outdoor learning, led by a qualified animal-assisted therapist. They will then be encouraged to share what they have learnt with their classmates using photos, video footage and artefacts that chronicle their experience at the farm. Ian will test the pilot to determine what interventions are the most effective, and hopes to develop a scaleable and replicable model for more school children in the area.

Ian’s Fellowship to Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania in 2019 explored how to transform lives and landscapes with trees. It was supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Michael Davies: teaching controversial histories in schools

Michael Davies (CF 2015) from Edinburgh is the founder of Parallel Histories, a teaching resource that offers a new way to study competing historical narratives and encourages students to make up their own minds about controversial historical topics. During the pandemic, with the support of one of our Activate grants, Parallel Histories established a successful online debating programme aimed at disadvantaged 16–18-year-olds to help them develop their confidence and speaking skills.

Michael will use his Covid-19 Action Fund grant to pilot an extension of this programme to 13–15-year-olds, in response to demand from students and teachers. The funding will enable 100 disadvantaged young people to engage in after-school debating workshops, working alongside teacher volunteers at 10 schools. At each workshop, students will debate controversial historical topics, including the Israel-Palestine conflict, conflict in Northern Ireland and conflict over the Union in Scotland. Michael has run over 50 online debate workshops in the last 18 months, attended by 400 16-18-year-olds. These students have reported increasing confidence and catching up on skills lost during pandemic-related school closures. Michael will continue to evaluate the project, with hopes of scaling it further across the UK.

Michael’s Fellowship to Israel, Jordan and Palestine in 2015 explored ways to teach controversial history.

Paul Middleton: improving the wellbeing and retention of teachers

Paul Middleton (CF 2019), from St Albans in Hertfordshire, is a secondary school teacher and head of department. Over the past 18 months, Paul has created several professional development (CPD) opportunities for members of his school community, through monthly lectures and regular research summaries, to help support staff wellbeing as they dealt with the challenges of the pandemic.

Paul will use his grant to develop and expand this work through the creation of a digital database of CPD opportunities for educators across the country, based on the Singaporean model. There are many organisations that provide training to teachers in the UK, but there is currently no single platform that centralises these. Through Paul’s website, teachers will be able to search for development opportunities that are relevant, accessible, and affordable to them. In the long term, this will expand to include expert articles, videos, and events, with a focus on material aimed at early career teachers. In addition, Paul will help to deliver a variety of free CPD courses so that all teachers can benefit, regardless of their income. Paul hopes this platform will enable more early career teachers to receive the training they need to support their students, improve teacher wellbeing, and reduce the 33% of teachers who leave the profession within their first five years.

Paul’s Fellowship to Norway, Singapore and Switzerland in 2019 explored how to improve the wellbeing and retention of early-career teachers.

Zadvinder Padda: providing catch-up education classes for teenagers

Zadvinder Padda (CF 2009), from Lydiate Ash in Worcestershire, is CEO at Smethwick Youth and Community Centre. During the pandemic, the centre received a huge influx of enquiries from families and support workers in the area, seeking educational support for their children, particularly in the 14-19 age bracket.

Zadvinder will use his grant to respond to this need and deliver educational activities such as tuition and homework clubs for teenagers. The funding will cover the costs of running four educational classes per week, with a major focus on numeracy and literacy. These will be run by a session tutor and a cohort of multilingual volunteers, trained to ensure these sessions are useful to a diverse group of students. The funding will also cover the cost of resources, work packs and other materials which will be loaned to the students. Pupils will receive individual progression plans and interim assessments throughout, to ensure they are receiving the support they need and are staying on track. The project will run for 12 months and aims to reach 120 students. Zadvinder hopes this will help meet the needs of pupils whose learning has been disrupted due to the pandemic.

Zadvinder’s Fellowship to Australia, Canada and the USA in 2009 explored project management in third sector organisations working with minoritised ethnic communities.

December 2020 awards

Helen Minnis: developing a home-schooling model for lockdown

Helen Minnis (CF 2009) is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. She has been working with colleagues, schools, disease modellers and families to develop a Scottish Model for Safe Education, which provides a safe home-schooling alternative in Scotland should further lockdown and school closures become necessary.

She will use her grant to conduct further research with schools and families across the UK to investigate whether this model could be replicated to other regions. The model uses closed childcare clusters (CCCs) where 2-5 families share home-schooling and socialise only together, reducing social isolation and maximising parental economic activity. School hubs for the most vulnerable would remain open. Helen will develop the model for urban, rural and ethnically diverse contexts, providing tailored guidance for schools to decide which families would team up to form CCCs and which might require additional support. She will produce a manual outlining the disease modelling and co-production process between schools and families, which any school across the UK can use and replicate in preparation for future lockdowns. Helen hopes the model, which has received interest from the Scottish Government and media, will provide a safe education option for families during future crises or lockdowns, and that it will encourage teacher-parent co-production to maximise each child's potential.

Helen's Fellowship to Romania and the USA in 2009 explored radical childcare innovation.

January 2022 awards

Ian Brown: engaging primary school children through farm life

Ian Brown (CF 2019) is the Chair of Ouseburn Farm Charity in Newcastle, which provides the local community with opportunities to learn about nature through engagement with farm life. During the pandemic, the farm has been in discussion with local schools about ways they can help vulnerable children in the community who are struggling to reintegrate into school life since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Ian will use his grant to design and deliver a pilot project for local disadvantaged primary school children who are experiencing social, emotional or mental health needs caused by the pandemic. Over a six-week period, 16 students will visit the farm weekly and engage in animal-assisted therapeutic techniques and outdoor learning, led by a qualified animal-assisted therapist. They will then be encouraged to share what they have learnt with their classmates using photos, video footage and artefacts that chronicle their experience at the farm. Ian will test the pilot to determine what interventions are the most effective, and hopes to develop a scaleable and replicable model for more school children in the area.

Ian’s Fellowship to Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania in 2019 explored how to transform lives and landscapes with trees. It was supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Michael Davies: teaching controversial histories in schools

Michael Davies (CF 2015) from Edinburgh is the founder of Parallel Histories, a teaching resource that offers a new way to study competing historical narratives and encourages students to make up their own minds about controversial historical topics. During the pandemic, with the support of one of our Activate grants, Parallel Histories established a successful online debating programme aimed at disadvantaged 16–18-year-olds to help them develop their confidence and speaking skills.

Michael will use his Covid-19 Action Fund grant to pilot an extension of this programme to 13–15-year-olds, in response to demand from students and teachers. The funding will enable 100 disadvantaged young people to engage in after-school debating workshops, working alongside teacher volunteers at 10 schools. At each workshop, students will debate controversial historical topics, including the Israel-Palestine conflict, conflict in Northern Ireland and conflict over the Union in Scotland. Michael has run over 50 online debate workshops in the last 18 months, attended by 400 16-18-year-olds. These students have reported increasing confidence and catching up on skills lost during pandemic-related school closures. Michael will continue to evaluate the project, with hopes of scaling it further across the UK.

Michael’s Fellowship to Israel, Jordan and Palestine in 2015 explored ways to teach controversial history.

Paul Middleton: improving the wellbeing and retention of teachers

Paul Middleton (CF 2019), from St Albans in Hertfordshire, is a secondary school teacher and head of department. Over the past 18 months, Paul has created several professional development (CPD) opportunities for members of his school community, through monthly lectures and regular research summaries, to help support staff wellbeing as they dealt with the challenges of the pandemic.

Paul will use his grant to develop and expand this work through the creation of a digital database of CPD opportunities for educators across the country, based on the Singaporean model. There are many organisations that provide training to teachers in the UK, but there is currently no single platform that centralises these. Through Paul’s website, teachers will be able to search for development opportunities that are relevant, accessible, and affordable to them. In the long term, this will expand to include expert articles, videos, and events, with a focus on material aimed at early career teachers. In addition, Paul will help to deliver a variety of free CPD courses so that all teachers can benefit, regardless of their income. Paul hopes this platform will enable more early career teachers to receive the training they need to support their students, improve teacher wellbeing, and reduce the 33% of teachers who leave the profession within their first five years.

Paul’s Fellowship to Norway, Singapore and Switzerland in 2019 explored how to improve the wellbeing and retention of early-career teachers.

Zadvinder Padda: providing catch-up education classes for teenagers

Zadvinder Padda (CF 2009), from Lydiate Ash in Worcestershire, is CEO at Smethwick Youth and Community Centre. During the pandemic, the centre received a huge influx of enquiries from families and support workers in the area, seeking educational support for their children, particularly in the 14-19 age bracket.

Zadvinder will use his grant to respond to this need and deliver educational activities such as tuition and homework clubs for teenagers. The funding will cover the costs of running four educational classes per week, with a major focus on numeracy and literacy. These will be run by a session tutor and a cohort of multilingual volunteers, trained to ensure these sessions are useful to a diverse group of students. The funding will also cover the cost of resources, work packs and other materials which will be loaned to the students. Pupils will receive individual progression plans and interim assessments throughout, to ensure they are receiving the support they need and are staying on track. The project will run for 12 months and aims to reach 120 students. Zadvinder hopes this will help meet the needs of pupils whose learning has been disrupted due to the pandemic.

Zadvinder’s Fellowship to Australia, Canada and the USA in 2009 explored project management in third sector organisations working with minoritised ethnic communities.

December 2020 awards

Helen Minnis: developing a home-schooling model for lockdown

Helen Minnis (CF 2009) is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. She has been working with colleagues, schools, disease modellers and families to develop a Scottish Model for Safe Education, which provides a safe home-schooling alternative in Scotland should further lockdown and school closures become necessary.

She will use her grant to conduct further research with schools and families across the UK to investigate whether this model could be replicated to other regions. The model uses closed childcare clusters (CCCs) where 2-5 families share home-schooling and socialise only together, reducing social isolation and maximising parental economic activity. School hubs for the most vulnerable would remain open. Helen will develop the model for urban, rural and ethnically diverse contexts, providing tailored guidance for schools to decide which families would team up to form CCCs and which might require additional support. She will produce a manual outlining the disease modelling and co-production process between schools and families, which any school across the UK can use and replicate in preparation for future lockdowns. Helen hopes the model, which has received interest from the Scottish Government and media, will provide a safe education option for families during future crises or lockdowns, and that it will encourage teacher-parent co-production to maximise each child's potential.

Helen's Fellowship to Romania and the USA in 2009 explored radical childcare innovation.