Small Axe series Education

The Small Axe series showcases a series of short films directed by Sir Steve McQueen and co-written by McQueen and Alastair Siddons.

The five-part film series includes ‘Education’ where Steve McQueen reveals how black children can have the odds stacked against them from the very start. For many, it hits closer to home than expected, but for McQueen, it is an authentic and powerful story of his own schooling experience.

Education shows an 11-year-old Kingsley, a victim of institutional racism who is sent by his school to a “special school,” or a school for the “educationally subnormal”. Kingsley is smart, talented in maths, and aspires to be an astronaut. However, he struggles to read and, like some children, becomes distracted during class from time to time.

While it has never been proven if Kingsley has educational challenges, reading is a particular challenge for him.  It becomes evident Kingsley has learning difficulties, however support from teachers is negligible and his parents are busy working to provide a home. Due to work commitments both parents are unaware of Kingsley’s challenges at school. His headteacher considers Kingsley a lost cause, teachers at his new school seem to feel the same way about him and the other pupils at the “special school”.

Small Axe, Education takes a turn and highlights the alternative methods used to encourage and support young people through education. It shows an intervention from a group of black women who have recognised that black children are systematically being sent to special schools for being “disruptive” and “lively”. The marvellous intervening collective identify students who need support and provide a Saturday school where young black people can actively work together and learn. The Saturday school provides support to students to help build confidence and encourage students to reach their full potential in a warm and inviting setting.

Education is a powerful rendition of Steve McQueen’s experiences, but it is also extremely relatable to the black community. McQueen concludes Education in an uplifting and optimistic manner. Kingsley reads confidently at the dinner table and deduces an unfamiliar word.

Not only does this short film show challenges black people have faced in education for decades. It also shows that so many young black people have significant potential, and that regular support and guidance can help them achieve their goals.

As a mother and the founder of Genesis Sun, I related to this incredible narrative. Steve McQueen has delivered a masterpiece and has showcased intelligently the challenges experienced in the education system in the 70’s and past methods used to overcome them. Experiencing some of this myself growing up and also seeing a shift in my sons’ attention and focus at school, ‘Education’ resonated with me as I’m sure it did with others.

Challenges in the education system have existed for decades, I too personally experienced some of these challenges. It is this, plus inspiration from my son and the lack of diversity in senior leadership positions which motivated me to form Genesis Sun. I am keen to make a difference by providing an educationally entertaining platform where success stories can be shared and to provide young black people a more inspiring and brighter future to look forward to.

At Genesis Sun we aim to inspire young black people and work with them to unlock their potential, develop their gifts and achieve their goals. Through our vibrant programme events, we aim to develop talented young leaders of the future by improving life skills and opportunities and addressing diversity in the workplace. ‘Education’ justifies the absolute need for organisations like Genesis Sun and we personally hope to inspire talented young people just like the enchanting Kingsley.

We would love your support to help us fulfil our mission. To find out more about Genesis Sun and how you can get involved contact us. Follow us on Instagram @genesissunuk and check out our Go Fund Me page and consider a donation today.

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