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Iftiin project seeks to understand educational experiences of Bristol’s Somali community

20 November 2020

Iftiin, a pioneering research project which seeks to better understand the educational experiences and aspirations of youth in Bristol’s Somali community, is currently being undertaken at the School of Education.

Led by the School of Education’s Ugbaad Aidid and supported by Professor Robin Shields, the project uses a participatory approach that places Somali students at the centre of project findings.

On Tuesday 10 November, the Iftiin project hosted a free webinar and shared the findings of the project. The event was well attended, with 60 attendees from the University, schools, and the local community.

The evening began with Ugbaad’s important research which highlighted common themes experienced by Somali heritage students in Bristol, for example lower expectations, more stringent discipline, and how students would like to see their schools engage with issues of race and racism more directly. Quotes gave a great deal of insight into British Somali students' lived experiences.

Professor Robin Shields, said, “I found the teacher presentations very energizing, as they showed what would is possible with effort, humility, a willingness to learn, and the will to create change. Probably the most poignant part of the event was hearing British Somali students reflecting that they wished such opportunities were available to them.”

Kate Smee (Director of Humanities at Fairfield High School), Terra Glowach (Lead Practitioner for Literacy and Decolonising the Curriculum at Bristol Cathedral Choir School) and Richard Kennett (Assistant Head and Teacher of History at Redland Green School) also shared their efforts to redress historical inequities across a range of curriculum areas. A positive outcome from the webinar was that there is a definite & accelerating change for the better. This project will empower these young people to research and document their own experiences and promote equitable and sustainable engagement.

The event aligns very nicely with the Bristol Conversations in Education CARGO webinar, where Lawrence Hoo spoke about the ways in which the history he was taught did not recognize who he was, his own family's history, etc. 

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