On Schools

What do we want for our schools?

School is the place where we begin to learn about the world and our place within it. We all have fond memories of moments in school where we connected with something new for the first time. The world changed in 2020. The arrival of the pandemic has encouraged deeper reflection on how our societies work. Some of us are seeking a return to normal, whilst others have reset their priorities.

During the pandemic, teachers have continued to serve our schools and children. This has included trying to blend learning in the digital and physical worlds, supporting children through uncertainty, addressing the symptoms of poverty, and making decisions about how to keep their school community well.

‘Textbook’ will explore fundamental questions about schools. In this project with Heart of Glass, we will produce a pamphlet that will amplify the voice of teachers, and explore their views on what their institutional role should be in society’s education of our children.

We’ll reflect on their most powerful experiences of learning, uncover the precious parts of teaching that they want to safeguard, and explore their hopes for the schools and learners of the future.

Children on The Future

Niamh
How would children reshape the world now?

What would they prioritise in their everyday lives, their communities and the wider world?

In 2019, I worked on a project with FACT & Holy Family Catholic Primary School. As we tried to make sense of our reality in 2020, I collaborated with 9 children from the school to reflect on the world. We exchanged letters for a few months to think about life during the COVID-19 emergency.

I had high hopes for a live event to bring together their ideas, but pandemics aren’t particularly interested in our plans. Here’s a link to a little book called Girl on the Gate that attempts to capture our experiences.

Supported by Arts Council England.

Conversations on Care

Want to talk about care?

20200513_141126The work of carers is coming into focus as we experience COVID-19. The inequalities in the lives of those that care is suddenly becoming apparent to all of us. As we collectively wake up to the realities of those on the front line – care assistants, nurses, doctors – we have the opportunity to return to the core principles of care, to think radically about how it should be valued, and to consider in what shape we want the structures that support those that give and receive care.

I am grateful for support from Heart of Glass to develop the initial concept and writing for this work.

I want to hear from more people about their experience of caring. I am interested to learn how you would reshape the world now so that care aligns to your experience, wisdom and foresight. Conversations on Care will come together in a publication that represents the diversity of views on the subject. The final format will be informed by the content of our discussions.

The definition of carer for this work is broad. I am keen to hear from a range of people. Are you a nurse who has watched changes in your career and is anticipating more uncertainty? Are you a minister who wants things to change?  Are you a gardener who sees a different way of doing things? Are you a manager responsible for social care? All viewpoints will be heard and respected. You will have the option to decide whether your contribution remains anonymous.

To find out more please email Sarah on hello@sarahbailey.net.

Supported by Arts Council England.

On Kindness

On Kindness

Like many people I am struggling to engage with the news in 2018. The headlines lacerate and the commentary sneers. Debate is polarised to the point of irrelevance.

Also like most people, I try to be kind whenever possible. All of my regrets focus on times when kindness has failed me. I don’t believe that kindness is defined by our nature; that you either have it or you don’t. The conditions of our lives help to polish or dull our capacity.

Nanna & Kindness

My grandmother modelled kindness in the way that she interacted with the world. Nanna lived through every dark nook and cranny of every Catherine Cookson plot. Yet outwardly she empathised, considered and responded with kindness at every moment. As an adult, part of me wishes that she had unleashed some of the anger that she must have held.

On our watch, we are detaining children, abandoning people on boats bound for safety, squabbling about where people pee, saving the last pound for our construction company at the cost of safety, making extra pennies while others starve; strumming a lyre while our compassion hardens to a callus.

How do we cultivate kindness when we witness (or inadvertently collude with) such cruelty? Can we afford to be kind in a world that cares more about outrage and less about quietly doing the right thing? By definition, kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. So what is the generous and considerate thing to do now? Who are our friends – and do we need to check how they voted?

To be kind in 2018 is to pay attention, to be willing to be wrong, to speak up, to learn and to take good care. It’s asking yourself, ‘what would Nanna do?’