Making a splash with Paralympic medallist

Our policemen and women do a difficult but essential job in keeping us all safe. That’s why I was delighted to be at the launch of the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner’s ‘Behind the Badge’ campaign on Tuesday (24 January).

West Mercia PCC John Campion launches the 'Behind the Badge' campaign

West Mercia PCC John Campion launches the ‘Behind the Badge’ campaign

The campaign aims to ensure officers and staff of the Wet Mercia Police Force are given the same level of support as any other victim of crime, tougher sentences are imposed on those found guilty of assaulting police officers and for the risks and issues faced by officers to be recognised by government.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, the Deputy Chief Constable Chris Singer and a member of the Police Federation, Russell Yeomans, spoke on the subject of police assaults followed by a video produced in support of the campaign.  We were also treated to a physical demonstration of how a police officer dealt with someone trying to assault him.

That day we also saw Droitwich’s very own Paralympic medallist Rebecca Redfern open the new Perdiswell Leisure Centre along with the Mayor of Worcester Cllr Paul Denham.

Rebecca Redfern and the Mayor and Mayoress of Worcester open the new centre

Rebecca Redfern and the Mayor and Mayoress of Worcester open the new centre

Rebecca made a splash by swimming two lengths quickly followed by members of the swimming club and pupils from Royal Grammar school, giving swimming and life-saving demonstrations.  A tour of the new facility followed (which made some of us quite tired watching people and gym equipment and working out) – so much so that we were glad to share a light lunch.  Quite an impressive facility which I hope will continue to be well used.

Paralympian Rebecca Redfern tries out the new pool

Paralympian Rebecca Redfern tries out the new pool

We ended the day by viewing a touring exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society’s “International Images for Science” in the Charles Darwin building at Worcester University.  There were some extraordinary photographs covering a wide range of subjects, but I think my favourite was “Warrior of the grassland” – a fan-throated lizard pictured in open ground in a sparse forest in India – beautiful colouring.

At the exhibition at the University of Worcester

At the exhibition at the University of Worcester

I had recently attended the university to listen to a fascinating and thought-provoking lecture by Professor John West-Burnham.

Professor West-Burnham is a writer, teacher and consultant in education leadership with a particular interest in leadership learning and development and innovative approaches to learning in schools and communities.  He has been a schoolteacher, teacher trainer, education officer and has held posts in six universities and is the author or editor of 28 books.

His lecture was entitled – “The end of improvement? Alternative perspectives on educational policy and practice”.

Prof West-Burnham referred to recent statistics which indicated that our education system had a long disjointed history of low attainment, with policies which aim to “find and fix” rather than “predict and prevent”.  He felt improvement was too slow, transformation too complex and strategic planning was too naïve and problematic and in his opinion early intervention was the key to prevent failure.  He suggested GCSEs should be abolished and the current assessment should be replaced with a model based on ABRSM grades (music grades), with collaborative working based on experience, an extension to early years development learning pathways whilst respecting the uniqueness of individuals and focussing on well-being and developing cognitive confidence.

Prof West-Burnham’s lecture argued that there is a need for a more radical approach moving from reforming what we have to rethinking for the future.  He proposed that this alternative perspective needs to question current orthodoxies on the basis of the increasingly sophisticated evidence and knowledge base now available and focussing on securing equity and providing an education suited to living a good life in the future, not reliving the past.

Professor West-Burnham was a most interesting man to talk and share thoughts with, so thank you Worcester University for giving us the opportunity to meet such a forward-thinking interesting gentleman.



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