In this interview, the Nigerian principal whose school produced the best 2018 A-level results in the UK, Dr Dayo Olukoshi, and who was also honoured by the Queen, told us how his school made it happen – and why it can happen even in Nigeria.
Do you remember how you received the news that over 100 of your students obtained straight As in this year’s A-Level?
I was of course very delighted but not surprised. We have a robust tracking system in place in our school to monitor the progress of our students and act swiftly on any indications of underachievement or underperformance in relation to targets.
Brampton Manor Academy has produced many students who went on to Oxford. More are going there this year. What is the school doing differently?
At Brampton Manor, there are no gimmicks. We focus strongly on getting the basics right: consistently good quality teaching; ambition; excellent attendance and hard work. Our school motto ‘success through effort and determination’ sums up our approach here at Brampton.
This year 20 students gained places at Oxford and Cambridge universities, with many more securing places at world class universities like Imperial College, London School of Economics (LSE), Durham University and St Andrew’s University to name a few. We believe very strongly that there is no ceiling to what our students can achieve.
How do you keep teachers motivated and committed to their job at BMA?
Our teachers get a lot of job satisfaction and motivation from seeing the fruits of their hard work translate into life-changing outcomes for the students they are privileged to educate.
When we recruit teachers, we are looking for people that share our missionary zeal – life changers! We eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and empower our staff to take risks and innovate in their classrooms.
Learning is fun and enjoyable and our teachers do their utmost to make sure that every hour they spend with their children is purposeful and impactful.
Apart from having committed teachers and hard-working students, what other factors have contributed to the school’s the academic success over the years?
At Brampton Manor, we have a shared vision and a common purpose. Although we are located in a deprived part of the country, we believe that so-economic disadvantage must never be allowed to be a barrier to our students’ academic and social achievements.
So, we have a culture of high expectations here at Brampton and you will never find a teacher here at Brampton say to a student that they can’t achieve their dreams.
In return, the students are motivated by the belief of the staff in their potential to achieve great things and as school leaders, we tap into this by creating an enabling environment in which dreams translate into reality.
What specific lessons can other schools, especially those in less privileged areas/parts of the world, learn from Brampton Manor Academy’s success story?
There are no secrets or short-cuts to success: you need good quality and passionate teachers. An education system can never be better than the quality of its instructors/teachers.
“We believe very strongly that there is no ceiling to what our students can achieve.”
The quality and standard of education in Nigeria continue to be a source of concern. What do you think could be done to improve them in Nigeria?
I was quite fortunate to receive good quality education during my secondary school education in Nigeria at Federal Government College Sokoto under the excellent leadership of the Principal, Mr. Harwood and the subsequent Principals (Mr. Adigwe and Mr. Ajepe).
The teachers were first rate: very well qualified in their subjects and they had a strong passion for teaching and our wellbeing. We also had excellent teaching and non-teaching resources to ensure that we developed into well-rounded individuals. We need to go back to that era in Nigeria.
When you meet Nigerian parents sending their children to schools abroad (in the UK, and elsewhere), how do you feel, especially because Brampton Manor is a public school?
I think this is a matter of personal choice for each parent. Schools shouldn’t just be about results (important though they are) but about a nurturing environment that would enable each child to grow up into confident and well-rounded individuals prepared for the world of work.
So, my advice will be that parents should schools (fee paying or not) that they believe will best meet the individual needs of their children.
Tell us how you got to work in Brampton
I joined Brampton Manor as the Principal/headteacher in 2008, having previously worked as a teacher and senior leader in various UK schools since 1992.
What sort of challenges have you faced over the years and how did you overcome them?
I consider every challenge I have faced as an opportunity to excel rather than an obstacle to overcome. A single-mined focus on the end goal is always helpful in overcoming challenges.
Have you been faced with racism?
Of course I have encountered racism (both direct and indirect) but you must never allow bigots to define who you are or alter your destiny.
How do you stay focused especially when you find yourself in difficult, racially-charged situations at work?
To lose focus is to hand victory to bigots! A person with clear mission and purpose cannot and must not allow themselves to be deflected by the ‘noise’ of a tiny minority of petty-minded individuals.
Having said that, I must say that the UK and London in particular is such a racially diverse community and the harmony that exists between the different groups (whilst not perfect) is still worthy of celebration.
Have you ever considered coming back home to teach?
At Brampton Manor, a significant portion of our students are from Nigeria and other African/Caribbean countries, so in a way, I feel like I am at home already. I am a man whose paths are led by God and where He sends me, I will go without question or hesitation.
Do you belong to any network of Nigerians in diaspora?
Not as such – I attend KICC church though and enjoy the inspiring and motivational teachings of Pastor Ashimolowo.
How do you stay in touch with home (Nigeria)?
I still have a lot of family in Nigeria who I am in touch with regularly.
You’re one of those the Queen will decorate with MBE. What does that mean to you?
Actually, I was awarded an OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), which is a higher honour than the MBE by Prince Charles on behalf of the Queen on my birthday! The OBE was for ‘services to education’.
Although the honour was given to me, it really is for all the staff that have worked tirelessly over the years to help make a difference to the lives of our young people.
How do you balance work with family?
Now, that’s an area that I still need to work harder on. I am fortunate to have the support of a strong leadership team, to whom I am able to delegate a lot of responsibilities.
I also enjoy the steadfast and unalloyed support of my beautiful wife (Sola), which makes so much easier for me to achieve a better balance. I think my scorecard in this area will read ‘can do better’.
What is your biggest concern about the state of education in Nigeria?
There is no question that Nigerians are talented, hardworking and intelligent people and we are currently operating significantly below our capacity and potential. Education must be prioritized, otherwise, we risk condemning generations of our young people to a life of underachievement and failure.
What do you think can be done to change the course?
We need committed leadership and a re-orientation of the populace. Nigeria is our country and home and we have no other.
No one can make Nigeria better other than Nigerians! In order to change course, we first need to recognize the status quo isn’t acceptable and this isn’t just a matter for the government!
It’s been reported in some circles that CNN and Sky did not report/or under-reported your school’s achievement. Is that correct – and you think there’s a racial motive, if it’s true?
I am not aware of this and even if it is true, I am not bothered. We don’t do what we do here at Brampton Manor for media and public acclaim.
Speaking personally, my confidence and trust is not in man, but in God. As far as I know, the news of the school’s success was reported by the BBC, Voice Newspaper and Huffington Post amongst others.
Is any of your children interested in becoming a teacher?
I don’t know yet – I simply commit them into the hands of God and ask Him to direct their paths. However, I cannot think of a more rewarding profession to be paid to do what you enjoy!
There appears to be an upsurge of Nigerian professionals migrating abroad. Do you think the trend would be reversed anytime soon?
There are many talented and excellent Nigerians occupying prominent positions in virtually every sphere of human endeavor all over the world. These Nigerians are making a difference that goes well beyond their current place of abode/residence.
It also the case that a number of professionals are migrating in order to be able to upskill themselves better and practice their craft more effectively.
I am sure that as Nigeria becomes a more enabling environment for such people, the trend will be reversed. There is hope for our beloved country and I am confident that Nigeria will one day become the envy of the whole world.
What is your next goal?
As the Lord leads me.
#DidYouKnow That Ghana deported 994 Nigerians since 2018?
The Nigerian government has disclosed that 994 of its nationals were deported from Ghana – Abike Dabiri
The Nigerian government did not disclose why they were deported but said 508 of them were deported within the last six months, while 486 were repatriated in 2018.
This was made known by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Dabiri-Erewa made the disclosure while meeting a Nigerian professor, Augustine Nwagbara, who was sacked by the University of Education, Winneba, for incitement.
She warned of dire consequences if its nationals are shabbily treated in Ghana and on the African continent.
She said, “It will not go down well on the continent if Nigeria decides to do what they do to Nigerians over there. We demand respect.
“If a Nigerian commits a crime, you should deal with that particular person rather than generalize issues by punishing those who are innocent of the crime.”
Lagarde leaves IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, has resigned her appointment and will be leaving the Bretton Woods institution on September 12.
IMF’s Executive Board in a statement yesterday in Washington DC, said it had accepted her resignation and would soon kick-start the process to find her replacement.
“Today the IMF Executive Board accepted Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s resignation from the Fund with effect from September 12, 2019.
“With this decision by Managing Director Lagarde, the IMF Executive Board will initiate promptly the process of selecting the next managing director and will communicate in a timely fashion.
“The Executive Board has the utmost confidence in Mr. David Lipton, who remains Acting Managing Director of the Fund in the interim period,” it said.
Lagarde had announced in a statement yesterday that she had submitted her resignation from the IMF and it would go into effect in September.
“I have met with the Executive Board and submitted my resignation from the Fund with effect from September 12, 2019.
“The relinquishment of my responsibilities as managing director announced previously will remain in effect until then.
“With greater clarity now on the process for my nomination as ECB President and the time it will take, I have made this decision in the best interest of the Fund, as it will expedite the selection process for my successor,” Lagarde said.
According to her, while the Executive Board would be taking the needed steps to proceed toward selecting a new managing director, David Lipton would remain the Fund’s acting managing director.
On July 9, the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council adopted a formal recommendation to nominate Lagarde as president of the European Central Bank.
Her nomination will now be discussed by the ECB governing council and the European Parliament, and the final appointment by European Council in October.
She was named as the next Managing Director of the IMF for a five-year term, starting on July 5, 2011, replacing Dominique Strauss-Khan.
Oil prices in steady decline
US crude stocks fell 9.5 million barrels in the week to July 5, more than triple the 3.1 million barrel draw analysts had expected, as refineries ramped up output, the country’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), said.
The report followed data from the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, on Tuesday that had boosted oil prices earlier.
Reuters reported that major oil firms began evacuating and halting production in the Gulf of Mexico after weather forecasts warned that a tropical disturbance might become a storm yesterday (Wednesday) or today.
Chevron Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and BHP Group were in the process of removing staff from 15 offshore platforms.
ExxonMobil said it was “closely monitoring” the disturbance to determine if its facilities might be affected.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of United States crude oil output, which stands at around 12 million barrels per day (bpd).
OPEC to Rollover Crude Oil Output Cut Deal
OPEC is to roll over a deal on cutting crude supplies at a meeting next week and discuss deepening the curbs that have been in place since January 1, 2019. A deal between OPEC and allies, including Russia, to curb oil output by 1.2 million barrels runs out at the end of June.
With the expiration of the agreement this week, the group has scheduled meetings from July 1-2 in Vienna, Austria to discuss the next steps.
However, Iraq’s Oil Minister, Thamer Ghadhban, has said the group would extend the current deal and consider deeper production cuts.
He said the issue would be discussed in Vienna but declined to specify what alternative level of cuts were being suggested.
“The rollover at least would be at the same level because it has not been very effective, it has been effective to a certain level to minimize the glut in the market, but there are now ideas or calls for agreeing (on) even more,” Ghadhban said on the sidelines of the CWC Iraq Petroleum Conference in London.
Reuters reported that Algeria had floated an idea of deepening the cut by some 600,000 bpd, to make it 1.8 million barrels per day.
Oil prices hit their highest in about a month on Wednesday, buoyed by United States government data that showed a larger-than-expected drawdown in crude stocks as exports hit a record high, and surprise drops in refined product stockpiles.
The price of the global benchmark, Brent crude, which dropped to $65 per barrel yesterday, had risen $1.44, or 2.2 per cent to settle at $66.49 a barrel on Wednesday, while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.55, or 2.7 per cent, to settle at $59.38 a barrel.
The product drawdown comes at the same time as news that the largest and oldest refinery on the US East Coast would be shut after a massive fire last week caused substantial damage.
According to agency reports, Philadelphia Energy Solutions plans to shut down the 335,000 bpd refinery complex next month.
The crude inventory fall and refinery outage added to uncertainty over oil supplies created by the war of words between Washington and Tehran.
This has prompted fears that oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s busiest oil supply route, could be disrupted.
Asked if a war was brewing, US President Donald Trump told Fox Business Network on Wednesday: “I hope we don’t but we are in a very strong position if something should happen.”
Tehran has condemned a fresh round of US sanctions, describing it as “mentally retarded.”
But the US Special Representative on Iran, Brian Hook, told Reuters in an interview yesterday that the United States’ policy of maximum economic pressure on Tehran was working.
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