In Your Network - Ben Gibbs
Ben Gibbs FRSA is the Director at Restart-Ed Ltd, a consultancy working in the schools sector. He talks about what gets him out of bed in the morning and how he has been working with the RSA Education team on the Grand Curriculm designs project:
1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?
By various means, I try to support schools and other organisations in the schools sector to improve the way they work; to consider their mission in light of recent social, cultural and technological changes; and to collaborate - not compete - on the improvement of outcomes for young people. When written down it all sounds rather idealistic, but I’m regularly grounded by working with children, not least my own (aged eight and four). They’re good ideals though, and certainly get me out of bed in the morning!
2) What did you join the Fellowship for?
I’ve long been fascinated by the RSA’s education work, stumbling across it at various stages of my ‘career’, and always finding it a good source of credible research, considered opinion and challenging thought ... a fascinating organisation to be a part of, then. I was delighted, therefore, to be invited to join after providing some support for Whole Education, an important initiative emerging from the RSA and other partners to promote the vital importance of broad and balanced school curricula.
3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to Fellowship/Society?
I’ve had the pleasure of contributing to several of the RSA’s education projects now, including the ‘Grand Curriculum Designs’ project. This important initiative will see the RSA leading the development of a programme for re-skilling school leaders and teachers in the art of broad curriculum design and management. Frankly, it’s never been needed more than now!
4) What would you change in society given the chance?
Wow! Let me, for now, stay focused on education. The opportunity I’d grasp may sound counter-intuitive as a governor who also works with schools, but I think I’d remind people that schools are actually only partially responsible for the education of our young people. Now that we’re all middle-class and expect to be able to choose everything, we’ve forgotten what they’re for, assigned too much importance to them, and lost sight of the critical role of family and society in education, not to mention the interests and agency of the individual child themselves. Once seen in this light, schooling can be de-politicised and de-pressurised, enabling us to focus on defining an appropriate place for these institutions in a child’s educational life.
5) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?
In light of the above, I rather liked the fact that Nobel Prize winner Sir John Gurdon's potential as a scientist was written off at school.
6) What did you learn last week?
I'm watching Harvard’s ‘Michael Sandel on Justice’ lectures on ITunesU at the moment, and am re-learning some of the basic principles of moral philosophy lost in the 25 years since graduation. I also learned that I'm not keeping up with my kids' social development, and maybe that I can't!
7) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
Every Fellow I talk to is interesting, but I recently met Tony Gearing, who runs the fantastic Young People of the Yearcharity recently hosted by students from Ely College in Cambridgeshire. His mission is to correct the unfairly negative image of young people today, and to celebrate young unsung heroes.
8) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows
I’m always happy to link via LinkedIn, but I'd particularly like to suggest that any Fellow with a professional interest in innovative school curriculum design should engage with the Grand Curriculum Designs project via the RSA Education team.