When did our pupils become our teachers?

Ray Douglas

Saturday, 11 May 2019

When did our pupils become our teachers?

Interviewer: "Do you use the word p*ki in Tamworth?"
Pupil: "No because there are no p*ki's in Tamworth!"

At that point, I thought 'Here we go again, another fly on the wall voyeuristic documentary exploiting vulnerable young people and communities'. Wandering what I meant? Think benefit street.

However over the duration of this social experiment, what transpired reinforced the theme I’ve been alluding to over the last few blogs: Resilience. Something that some young people have lots of; especially when it comes to peer-to-peer interaction.


What I witnessed was nothing new and something we already know fairly well. The majority of stereotypes are reinforced by two main reasons:

1. The media
2. Our households

Further into the programme, after having dinner with the school swap family, the mother from Tamworth declares how astonished she was that “they had sky and an Xbox”. This is a testament to not only what happens when communities live polarised from one another but also highlights the dangers of educating young people in silos.

Some of the soundbites throughout the program made great TV but for me, unearthed the dangers of children only being allowed to attend schools within their designated catchment area.

school busss

What we saw were young people from both communities who, throughout their educational journies, have only ever socialised debated and sat next to children who look, speak and in some cases, pray like them.

Whilst we initially witnessed prejudices from both sides around race, gender & faith what we took away from the programme was that these same students had formed strong bonds and potentially life-long friendships.

The takeaway message of this is that the true power of a curriculum lies not just in textbooks but in a lived experience by the students themselves.


About our Community Expert

Raymond Douglas
Community Expert

Raymond Douglas is one of the UK’s leading thinkers and “doers” around working with at-risk pupils and young people. A prolific trainer and curriculum developer he has created numerous intervention programs tackling youth conflict & violence aiming to reduce the number of those at risk of life-threatening behaviour involving guns, gangs, knife crime & extremism.

Ray has been an approved trainer for governmental departments and currently delivers within schools colleges, universities and prisons. Ray has spoken at TEDx and has worked nationally and internationally training & advising schools and local authorities around reducing systemic youth violence.

Today his Minus Violence program reaches over 10,000 young people & pupils per year and 2019 see the release of his first book Gangs Kitchen.

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