BELONGING’ IS THAT SENSE OF BEING SOMEWHERE YOU CAN BE CONFIDENT YOU WILL FIT IN AND FEEL SAFE IN YOUR IDENTITY: A FEELING OF BEING AT HOME IN A PLACE.
For many young people today, schools are one of the few points of stability in their lives, yet for a growing number (nearly 1 in 3), they are not places of belonging.
Devising social interventions, policy solutions and practices which mitigate against exclusion and alienation – and support children and young people’s sense of belonging – is a complex undertaking. However, the rewards are incalculable. When young people feel connected to their school and that they belong, they perform better academically and come to believe in themselves. Their teachers feel more professionally fulfilled and their families accepted.
This thematic has been curated by Professor Kathryn Riley. She uses the powerful lens of belonging to shine a light on the underpinning cultural, organisational and practical features of schooling which create or hinder a young person’s positive perception of themselves and the world around them.
If you have a stake in the planning or delivery of schooling, whether you are a practitioner, policymaker, researcher or involved in school governance – and wherever you are in the world – we would encourage you to look at schools through the prism of school belonging. You will find this a positive and rewarding agenda.
We hope that these materials together with Kathryn’s unique approach will stimulate thinking, provide a focus for discussion, encourage you to reflect on practice and through this, provide a
powerful agenda for change.
Anton Florek (Series Editor)
Professor Kathryn Riley is an international scholar whose work bridges policy and practice. Born in Manchester, she began her work in education as a volunteer teacher in Eritrea, later teaching in inner-city schools, before holding political office as an elected member of the Inner London Education Authority (the ILEA) and becoming a local authority Chief Officer. Her international work included two years with the World Bank, heading its Effective Schools and Teachers Group. She has carried out reviews on teacher quality, teacher education and
accreditation, educational reform and school leadership, partnering many countries and colleagues in research, policy and development work. The only continent she has yet to work in is Antarctica!
First appointed as a Professor in 1993, she is Professor of Urban Education at UCL Institute of Education. With DancePoet TioMolina, she founded The Art of Possibilities (www.theartofpossibilities.org.uk) and has been engaged in research and development work on school belonging for over a decade. She is profoundly optimistic about what can be achieved. Her latest book, ‘Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging’ will be published by UCL Press in 2022.