Ferrotype

£7bn 363 colleges 4.2m learners 263,257 staff

What Colleges need to do about the Power Gap

People feel powerless when they have little control over the direction of their own lives, or the power to shape the society in which they live – and we see this in how people talk about bankers or MPs expenses. We feel powerless when we compare our own position to bankers who appear to have the power to award themselves high pay, to burden us all with the huge cost of rescuing them when they fail, and to reward themselves while we bear the consequences of financial deficits – and we have no control or voice to shape events.

But the issue is not really about the power of the rich and lucky – it is really about boosting the powerfulness, the resourcefulness, of most people. All three parties now seem to “get it” and talk of “giving power away”, of empowering people, of devolving decision making to a local people.

And if education is to play its part in increasing power, then we need to have a good mental map of where the powerful and the powerless are, and what we need to do to increase the power of young people and adults.

Think tank Demos has produced a map http://bit.ly/5rqLif showing where people are most and least powerful [get the main report, and map, from my File Box on the side bar] Indices of education, occupational status, income, employment, freedom from crime, health, voter turnout and marginality of parliamentary seats were used to map areas as relatively powerful or powerless.

I live in the East of England, with no constituency in the most powerless “Very Low Score” band [ but 4 in Birmingham, Liverpool, and Glasgow; 3 in Hull, 2 in Manchester, and single constituencies in Nottingham, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, Stoke, Middlesborough – and only one constituency in London or the South – Tottenham].
The East edges into band 4 “Low scores” with Waveney [my constituency] and Great Yarmouth, then into band 3 “Medium” with Norwich, Peterborough, Ipswich, Harwich.
Then High scores recorded for Colchester, Southend, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Suffolk, Norfolk, North Essex.

The East is represented in the most powerful places only by South Cambridgeshire [#7 overall] , and mainly, but not exclusively, south eastern constituencies: including Guildford, Cheadle, Wimbledon, Monmouth, Kensington, Hexham, Dorset, Chesham, Brecon, Na h-Eilanan An lar, Cardiff central, Edinburgh south, Saffron Walden, Dumfries, Ribble Valley.

The report looks closely at the contributions of the contributing indices – education, occupational status, income, employment, freedom from crime, health, voter turnout, marginality of parliamentary seat.

Two headlines for education are that
1. Education is a power booster, and a power drain. The factors that contribute most to draining power away from areas are education, occupational status, and political power in terms of voter turnout
2 Education, with occupation, were the key boosters for boosting powerfulness. The capability and resilience of local people strongly influence feelings of power and influence

I find this to be a powerful analysis, allowing further education a voice and a role in political and social agendas without adopting a party political stance.

As first reaction to the report, “my college” should adapt its mission to increase the powerfulness of its students and community [and I recognise that words such as “power” are tricky animals here], and prioritise top level policies
1  to promote actions and activities which increase voter turn out
2 to promote citizenship
3 to engage with the most powerless areas within their catchment
4 to promote power of learners within the college
5 to translate the “Every Child Matters” nanny state stuff into the power agenda

But that is my first reaction – the report now goes into my “Defining Document” box – and will re-emerge once I have thought through a more considered response.

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January 11, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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