Bradford Community Champions are a team of diverse and very carefully selected individuals. They come from non-privileged backgrounds and some have experienced their own difficulties and hurdles in life. I have spent the last fifteen years as a serving magistrate
in both Adult and Youth Court and also been heavily involved with the Youth Charity JAMES. Over the years I have seen hundreds of children and young adults in every situation possible.
Some from mainstream school, some that have been excluded, children with one parent, no parents, same sex parents, parents who are working, not working, problems with drugs, alcohol and a whole spectrum of mental health issues in both youths and adults.
In addition, the ‘Looked After’ children in homes and in the care of the local authority, children with stable lives and those living in such horrendous situations you couldn’t possible imagine.
However, every single one of them had something in common! With the right direction and support, they all had the potential to succeed at something, to some degree or other. I have never in all my years as a magistrate seen one child and thought that they
were a lost cause.
In our mainstream schools some pupils seem to breeze through. They turn up, listen, take part, complete homework, pass exams and leave equipped to go on to better things. And then there are those students who struggle and have a very different view of school
life altogether. Whether it be through immaturity, lack of self-esteem, little or no family support, motivation or just the general inability to grasp the importance of what is on offer.
Often, with that kind of attitude comes disruption and disrespect in the classroom, ending in total frustration and hours of wasted time. The teachers who have prepared and planned specific lessons are sometimes almost considered a nuisance or perhaps someone
there to spoil their social interaction. And instead of teaching, can end up policing a class, which then has a knock on effect on those students who do grasp the point of education and want to learn.
Our aim, is solely to support the school and the teachers. We all understand and appreciate what a difficult and stressful profession teaching can be. When a team member is invited into a school they will talk about their own journeys but also endeavour
to Inspire, Encourage and Motivate their audience. We would like to try and change the attitude and the way some students feel about education in general.
Sometimes it can be as late as year 11 before reality sets in and they realise what opportunities they have missed. And they have nothing to carry forward in their ‘Educational Bank Account’.
By that I mean, that every bit of effort and knowledge they retain now, is almost like banking invisible money. And without realising it, they are already preparing and contributing to this ‘Educational Bank Account’ which will pay dividends at a later date.
This will give them something to offer and enable them to have choices in life. In addition it will prepare them to stand on their own two feet, take care of their families and feel like a worthwhile member of society.
Sometimes on the last day of school, after the initial euphoria comes deep disappointment, huge self-esteem issues, panic and then…what now?
Furthermore, if our team members can help just some of these young people, to see the connection between, the value, effort and hard work they put in today and the opportunities that will open on leaving school with a full ‘Educational Bank Account’.
And finally we would like them to understand and appreciate the teachers because they are in fact the gateway to a happy and successful future.
Gill Arnold JP
Deputy Chairman of the West Yorkshire Magistrates’ Bench
To find out further information about Bradford Community Champions please email: EducationCovenant@bradford.gov.uk