Walking for us

Walking 1 As it stands, millions of children across the globe do not have access to free education. Education gives everyone the tools to earn a living, to contribute to communities and get more out of opportunities. It promotes equality and challenges discrimination. But most importantly, it unlocks the potential of every child and transforms lives.

Getting all children access to education requires focused efforts to eliminate the barriers that keep them away from education. Many are walking for hours each day to get to school, and that is why the one hundred and eighty two miles between Stockport and London will be covered, to represent the daily toll that many face. Children all across the globe are striving to attend their local school and I want to raise funds for a not for profit organisation which strengthens and empowers communities and ensure local ownership of programmes and learning, which is why I will be walking to raise funds for the Steve Sinnott Foundation.

Dawn Taylor Division Secretary, Stockport Assciation of the National Union of Teachers, England and Wales


Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge 2015

Dragons logo The Foundation is taking part in the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge Watford, an inspirational annual programme connecting students with business mentors to raise money for local charities. Schools identify their interest in participating and encourage year 12 students to put themselves forward and form teams of 6. Each team is matched with a local business mentor (their dragon) and a local charity or community group.

Teams are given £100 and challenged to “turn £100 into £1,000 or more”. Dragons provide support in the form of advice, and access to resources, to help their team achieve their business goal and funding target. All profits made by the teams go directly to their allocated charity/community organisation.

We are excited to be partnered with West Herts College and Jury’s Inn Watford. Please support us to raise as much awareness as possible. Watch this space for updates and follow us on twitter and please, please do promote us as widely as you can – Twitter @DragonsWatford @ssfoundation.


Crowdfunding for “My Life Changed”

We’re raising money to make 3 animated mini films

At under 1 minute each, these powerful films telling personal stories of changing lives through accessing education will be used by us to aid an understanding of the work that we do to provide access to learning worldwide. They will be shown in schools, conferences, talks, on our website and to aid learning and fundraising activities. We will also be creating learning resources for schools with the money raised.

Why tell personal stories?

Because they are more interesting. They touch us, make us feel alive, and inspire us. They reflect our basic human need to understand each other, our cultures and how others see the world. Stories are the way in which people reach out and emotionally connect with each other. Storytelling enables people to share their ideas and solutions and not feel alone.

How will we find the stories?
From our work at the Foundation we meet many people who have compelling stories they want to share. As well as these, we are also asking people to send in their personal stories, and asking our online community to vote for the best of all these stories.

Why mini films?
Because they are infinitely viewable. Keeping it short keeps attention. You can fill in the rest.

What’s the money for?
Here’s the breakdown:
50% Animation and Editing
20% Music and Sound
10% Story Competition
20% Rewards and Resources, Indigogo fees

What are the Resources for Schools?

The films themselves, branded stationery to say thank you for fundraising, the booklet of stories, workshop resource packs.

What’s in it for you?

You are actually the ones who are making this happen. You are adding to the EDUCATION FOR ALL movement. You are helping people share their stories, stories that can help and encourage others, stories that will help us understand each other. Education empowers people, gives people choices, we need as much of this as possible right now.

Our film team

Lucy Lee graduated from the National Film & TV School, winning the Chicago Gold Hugo award amongst others, with her graduation film which she made in Russia. She has since made numerous other independent and commissioned films on a wide range of topics and in a wide range of styles, and won awards around the globe. You can see more of her work here www.instinctmedia.co.uk

Stelios Koupetoris has been nominated for his work, including Lucy Lee’s “Wasteland” at the UK Music and Sound Awards, the Hollywood Music in Media Awards and has been awarded at the Garden State Film Festival, the Drama Film Festival and the Park City Film Music Festival among others.

Nefeli Stamatogiannopoulou studied music at the Royal School of Music and acquired her Bachelor and MMus in Composition for Film, Theater and Performing Arts at the Ionian University of Greece. She collaborates with the renowned Grotowski Institute and composes for films and theatre. Nefeli is also the founder of the band “Spooky RedRum”.

Louise Brown is an award winning sound editor and Foley artist. She has worked on films such as “Moshi Monsters: The Movie”, “Anuvahood”, “Plastic” and “Tower Block”. Louise also enjoys working with young people to foster their creativity.


Steve Sinnott Foundation’s first time at the Education International World Congress

18 July 2015 Foundation Executive Manager, Ann Beatty, travelled to Ottawa to profile the Foundation at Education International’s 7th World Congress. EI Congress

Two thousand democratically-elected teacher leaders from 400 teachers unions and associations across 171 countries convene in Ottawa’s Shaw Centre for the Congress from July 20–26, 2015. They will be debating and setting priorities for ” Better education, for a better world”

Anticipating that in September 2015 the new UN Sustainable Development Goals will be adopted, Education International (EI), the world’s largest organisation of teachers’ unions, will set its own agenda to see that education for all becomes a reality. Ann said:

Ann.Beatty Ann said, “This is the place to be this week. This is the first time that we have been able to attend the EI Congress. I will be taking every opportunity to meet people, promote the work of the Steve Sinnott Foundation and win support for our projects.”


The Global Achievement Gap

When checking out Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World, which argues that American education is falling dangerously behind other nations, I stumbled across Tony Wagner’s six-year-old The Global Achievement Gap. Wagner begins with a frightening anecdote — the type that could drive today’s frenzied assault on teachers.

A world-renowned molecular scientist sent two sons to a Cambridge, Massachusetts, school. One had a great experience, being inspired by an awesome teacher who used project-based learning and taught hands-on science. The other son had a “totally different” experience. His teacher offered none of the “fun stuff.” That teacher’s test prep approach to instruction drove the love of learning out of class.

Today, such an anecdote could prompt more calls to fire bad teachers. But, both of the classes in Wagner’s story had the same teacher! The difference was the increased pressure to conform to test-driven accountability had driven excellent teaching from the classroom.

I don’t have the expertise to answer the question of whether we have an overall crisis in public education, as opposed to the question of whether it is mostly high-challenge schools that are failing. Ripley and Wagner make a good case, however, that our schools do not teach critical thinking in an engaging manner.

I’m more impressed with Wagner’s methodology. He summarized international PISA data, for instance, in order to estimate where students of different nations stand in terms of access to instruction that emphasizes critical and creative thinking. More importantly, Wagner had conducted “walk throughs” of classrooms across the nation. He and his guests, including staff for the Gates Foundation, invariably were disappointed by the lack of engaging instruction.

Today, the discussion about paths to better teaching usually lead to more rigorous standards-based reforms. Amanda Ripley is just one of today’s true believers in rigor and competition as the driver of educational excellence. Wagner makes a good case that such a focus is a dead end. The normative definition of rigor was limited to the mastery of more complex subject matter, and that is an unworthy goal. Wagner defines “rigor” in the context of “In today’s world, it’s no longer how much you know that matters; it’s what you can do with what you know.” (Emphasis by Wagner.)

Advocates for Common Core and its more rigorous testing seek to speed up the educational assembly line so that more knowledge can be poured faster into the brains of students. Wagner recalls, however, that even in the 1990s the “half life” of knowledge in science and math was 2 to 3 years, and that now it must be less. Real world, it is impossible to speed up the teaching of so much more knowledge.

On the contrary, the way to learn and prosper in the 21st century is to teach kids to ask better questions. We need schools where intellectual give and take is nurtured, not classrooms where teachers are intimidated into teaching to the test.

Wagner closes with examples of three types of schools that nurture real rigor, the types of creativity that we need. But, all of those successes were rooted in the 1990s, before NCLB, the Obama administration, and the “Billionaires Boys Club” imposed the test, sort, and punish policies known as corporate reform.

We have always had plenty of soul-killing, drill and kill instruction. In the past, however, it was seen as education malpractice. Now, it is imposed in the name of “reform.” Not having participated in nearly as many walk throughs as Wagner, I have no idea if we, objectively, have more mediocre teaching in today’s classrooms.

If Wagner has a definitive opinion about that question, he is too discrete to express it. We clearly have wasted an opportunity to improve teaching, however, as tens of billions of new dollars and unfathomable amounts of energy have been invested in competition-driven reforms.

It was nice having an opportunity to remember Wagner’s wisdom. He is also discrete on another issue. What do Gates Foundation staff persons think during these depressing walk throughs? Would they now own up to the Gates contribution to undermining creative and engaging instruction? I wonder what could happen if they also reread The Global Achievement Gap with six years of hindsight.

Follow John Thompson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drjohnthompson