Tuesday, 31 May 2011
The First Lady and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School
Michelle Obama, the current First Lady, has now established herself as the champion of a North London School. Her first singular journey as First Lady was when she visited the school in 2009. The connection is a positive one in a number of different ways and illustrates a fine example of Cultural Diplomacy in action and one hopes that reciprocal arrangements will be fostered. It is a shame the Prime Ministers wife does not seem to be present which is a shame. I suppose she was planning to do other things. The sight of both First Ladies being involved with a school or twin school arrangement as an example of fostering ties and links would be one that No 10 should think about. But I would hesitate to let the Foreign and Commonwealth Office know about it. .
I wanted also to look at the significance of choosing a school named after a remarkable early feminist and pioneer in the medical proffession- Elizabeth Garrett Anderson herself. She was a gifted physician and an early Victorian feminist who became the first female member of the British Medical Association. The BMA then saw fit to make sure she was the only female member for 19 years ( from 1873-1892) by closing the doors of opportunity to woman physicians after letting Anderson join. So this all ready shows that the school stands for opportunity for women who study, women involved with science and with a background message of social mobility in a new era. Added to this is an international and transatlantic dimension which has broad appeal.
Oxford University recently got into some controversy with the current Prime Minister about social mobility at the university and equality of opportunity. In cold statistical terms some colleges have not selected many young black men and women at their colleges and this is true of most of the universities in the elite Russell group of universities.
In fact London Metropolitan may be 119th, in the league table of universities, on some issues but it is the top university on black and ethnic representation and opportunity in the country and a pillar of social mobility. May it remain so.
Michelle Obama, First Lady, at Oxford University:
http://youtu.be/VQDjYyKGRNU (49 minutes)