Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 13 Dec 2007

Education isnít all bad news. What are the best memories you, and your readers have of the past year?

Hillary's Advice

No, it isnít all bad. In fact thereís such a gulf between daily life in good schools and colleges, and the dire news of plunging league table results and illiterate school-leavers, that it is sometimes hard to understand how the two co-exist.

For me there were many highlights in a year of education reporting. One was sitting in an East Sussex primary school watching the teaching assistants in this schoolís little nurture room work painstakingly with a handful of troubled pupils, another was listening to a high-tempo sixth form philosophy lesson at a comprehensive school in Devon, where young brains fizzed as they grappled with ideas of mind-body duality. Yet another was visiting a school outside New York that was turning disaffected ghetto kids into model students Ė and doing it with verve, humour and warmth.
On a personal level, there was the pleasure of attending one of Nottingham Universityís slick graduation ceremonies to applaud a daughter who had enjoyed three productive years there, and seeing the springing confidence of a university that feels it is at the top of its game.

But above all, there was the joy of listening to the sensational choir of the St Elizabethís school choir, in Mukuru, Nairobi. Many of these slum children were orphaned, hungry and wearing uniforms in holes, yet their exquisite, note-perfect performance on a dusty platform next to their corrugated iron classrooms seemed to symbolise the potential that all children hold.

It was impossible to listen to their singing without feeling both moved by their talent and spirit, and frustrated and angry that the world isnít a better place for them to grow up in.