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The EU and Community

The EU and Community

It has been an unforgettable couple of weeks, and regardless of your political views you cannot escape hearing about, reading or participating in a discussion on the EU Referendum. It has been staggering how prevalent it has been. In all the discussions I have had, I have been asked what the implications are for education. With the situation changing on almost a daily basis, it is almost impossible to say.

What has been apparent is how knowledgeable our children are about the EU; they have had a real desire to discuss and put forward their views on the matter. For them, nearly all have articulated that this is something of real importance to them, as it directly affects their future. They feel it is unfair that they have not had a say.

Children at Coleridge have a very rich and sound understanding of what politics is. They experience how they can have a say and have opportunities to learn about how they can have an impact on their local, national and global communities. We have held and run a number of elections, general and mayoral. Children have written their own policies, canvassed, debated and voted. Recently, we went to Muswell Hill Primary School to participate in a debate on the EU Referendum. Children through Philosophy for Children lessons learn how to debate, question and wonder about the world about them.

Participating in activities such as this allows children to understand how to build and put forward an argument, how to constructively challenge others thinking and understand their potential to make a difference. It is such a shame that when children look at the press, there are politicians who are not setting themselves up as positive role models for our children.

The responsibility then falls to schools and parents. We need to teach, model and educate our children, ensuring they learn about positive role models, about the benefits of living in a democratic society and to help them understand their rights and responsibilities of being an active citizen.

The result of the EU Referendum has thrown up lots of different views about community. There are those that believe that the UK, as a national community are better off going it alone, and those who see the value in being a part of a bigger and wider European community. Unfortunately, since the vote, there have been some awful acts of intolerance and racism designed to split and put fear at the centre of our communities. Exposing our children to experience a positive community becomes even more important, which is why we place this as central to the ethos of Coleridge. Children learn about, understand and experience diversity; they understand working together as a community can make a real difference to the world around them.

Last week I attended the Haringey Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall. A huge number of schools in Haringey took part. In such difficult times it was beautiful seeing children from so my different countries backgrounds and religions coming together to participate in something so spellbinding. At various points there were over 1,000 children singing and playing music together. It was an incredible experience and it raised the hairs on the back of my neck.  While there was nothing political about the concert, the children all experienced the effect that many voices can have by coming together, there was a mixture of music, ranging from traditional Peruvian music to hip hop and Justin Bieber, being played on the steel pans. All parents who came along were in absolute agreement about the powerful message the concert had. It was a celebration of diversity, community and music. It was such a refreshing change from the day to day goings on in Parliament.