A couple of weeks before the end of the year, we welcomed our new Director to the Light Up Learning team -. Emily came to us with a long background in youth engagement and educational strategy, and some cracking stories about sheltering from the Highland weather (and coos) in a one-woman tent. You can expect to see regular updates from her here, but for now, we’ve put together a brief (illustrated) intro…
"I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 9 or 10, and there were points where I thought: 'I don't want to do any more school, I'm done!'. Having the space outside the school structure, with a dyslexia support teacher, to say 'I can't really do this' or 'I'm struggling', was really important."
"I've been involved in Girlguiding all my life and currently run a unit in Govanhill, Glasgow. In 2017 I took a group of 15-18 year olds on a trip across Europe, and because my work with young people is based in youth participation, I gave them a map of Europe and asked them where they wanted to go. I maybe learnt to put some parameters on decision making from that experience. It was great, though - we went to an international camp as well as Pride in Amsterdam, a walking tour along the Berlin wall, and the spas in Budapest ."
"What I really learnt from my first attempt at uni was what my style of learning is: I don't learn from a lecture, I need engagement and discussion, to be able to ask questions. If I'm in a lecture hall full of people, with someone writing formulas up on the board, I'm not going to understand it."
"After I graduated, I was really excited to be one of the few graduates taken on by the Department for International Development (DFID) ... I was less excited to learn I was going to be working in the Audit department. But it was such a useful grounding, in finance and project management - I learnt so many skills and got to visit 6 different country offices in a year...."
"I managed education progammes for DFID in Pakistan, where the UK Government is supporting education reform in several provinces. In some classrooms I visited there is still rote learning, with everyone copying the same piece off the board. I also visited other schools, like BRAC schools, that were such a contrast: there was colour and pictures everywhere, there's dancing. It was an amazing opportunity to think about education, how learning happens and how we measure it."
"I'm really excited by what LUL is trying to do: how do we make sure the most young people, have the best quality education? The stats say it doesn't really matter how intelligent you are, to do well in your Highers when you're at a school in the one of the most deprived parts of the UK, is much harder than when you're in a private school. We need to be breaking down the barriers of elite education, and create an education system that works for everyone. LUL is a good combination of my experiences of different education systems, my passion to create equity, the recent work I've done in social enterprise and my leadership and drive to make things happen."
"Last summer I did a big cycling trip, taking 6 weeks to travel 750 miles - from Glasgow around the west coast, all through the Western Isles, back down through Skye and Mull, to Glasgow. It was a chance to fully experience the landscape and the elements, but also to understand and participate in the various community groups I met along the way. "
"One of the biggest mentors I had was my guide leader when I was 10. She had this innate belief that I could do whatever I wanted to do. A good mentor is someone that champions you: they are there to think about you and only you, and I think that's really important."