News and opinion

Richard Churches

People really making a difference

22 October 2017

Dr Richard Churches, lead adviser for education reform and evidence-based practice, is currently in Jordan delivering our Certificate of Professional Practice in Evidence-Based Supervision to Ministry of Education school supervisors, in partnership with the Queen Rania Teacher Academy.

There are some moments in your life when you are truly moved. Your heart touched in ways that are both rare and beyond words. I know we all say such things and on occasion think them. But, I defy anyone not to be moved when they find themselves standing in a classroom filled with Syrian refugee children – welcomed with open arms by a country whose only answer to the refugee crisis all around them is to say, 'come on in and we will give you a future'. That alone would be beyond what most human hearts could stretch to. Yet here, in Jordan, they have gone the extra million miles.

What would stop even the most benevolent of countries from taking such steps?

Well, the practical matter of how to teach the millions of children who are, not only without a home, but who have suffered violence and upheaval on a scale that is hard to comprehend – that alone would be enough. The answer here? Schools open for longer, many doing double teaching shifts. And to staff this? The Jordanian answer: we find more teachers and we train them.

This generosity of spirit does not only exist within the government. You only need to talk to a taxi driver (as I did this morning) to learn how deep this flows within the Jordanian soul. All he had to say about the matter was, 'they are our neighbours. . . they need us, what else would anyone do?' Moved to silence, I found it impossible to answer his question.

And here, at the Queen Rania Teacher Academy, the sense of purpose and urgency is palpable. It fills the air in the training room with humour and humanity, in the breaks and over lunch... and in the desire to make a difference. The supervisors I worked with today are passionate about this vision and why it is so important. In the classrooms, the children will the new teachers on, as they improve their teaching day-by-day. And, one can only hope, that beyond here there is a grateful world that one day will recognise the extraordinary contribution this generous and warm-hearted country is making to the peace of the world.

What is the Certificate of Professional Practice in Evidence-Based Supervision?

This certificate is being delivered as part of a wider programme, Improving English Skills, that Education Development Trust and the Queen Rania Teacher Academy are delivering to the Ministry of Education in Jordan, helping them to deliver quality education to Syrian refugees. Education Development Trust is funding the project using the ring-fenced funds from our acquisition of the Alexandria Schools Trust whose remit is to improve English language teaching in the Middle East.