Through Young Eyes

1-w7ShehdRaF9yAXg7aUZMTQA touring exhibition has been in Nailsworth and Stroud (hometown of Crossfields Institute) this last week showing artwork created by young people in Gaza in response to the conflict of 2014, which brought destruction, death and displacement to their homes and families: .

A poignant and powerful reminder of the ways in which art can enable communication and healing, whatever your age or skill. The exhibition is now moving to Carlisle Cathedral, so do catch it if you are in that part of the UK in the next week or so.

An image of true social innovation: the longest picnic table in the world

2016-05-23 13.06.56An image of true social innovation: the longest picnic table in the world, created by Jason Gathorne-Hardy, artist, farmer and the founder of the Alde Valley Spring Festival The table is more than 290m and can seat 700 people. Bringing together the local community and those from further afield, Jason has created a hub of innovation, connection and celebration.

From Effectiveness to Faithfulness

slide-discussion1The Center for Courage and Renewal in the United States seeks to create a more just, compassionate and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. There is a lot in common between the work of the Center and that of Crossfields Institute. In Healing the Heart of Democracy (Jossey-Bass 2011), Parker J Palmer from the Center writes:

“We’re always being asked how effective is your work, are you getting results and outcomes? I don’t object to that, but I’m really convinced that there’s a terrible problem when effectiveness is our only standard and we become utterly obsessed with outcomes and results. When that happens, what else happens is that we keep taking on smaller and smaller tasks because those are the only ones we can get results with.

If we want to take on big tasks like love and mercy and justice – the tasks that we’re neglecting in our democracy right now – we need another standard by which to measure our actions. And I think that standard is faithfulness.

I don’t mean anything high and mighty by that. I mean, am I faithful to the gifts that I possess, to the strengths and abilities that I bring to the world? Am I faithful to the needs I see around me? Am I faithful to those points at which I intersect the needs of the world and have a chance to serve? Do I enter that opportunity, as complex and challenging as it may be, or do I shy away, run away, for fear that I won’t be able to serve well or that I’ll be stretched beyond my ability to serve?”

His words are an interesting challenge to the processes of quality assurance and compliance in education, and a good prompt for anyone embarking on developing a qualification or starting a new piece of work.

Soil Sense

6163B610-330F-4386-AFDD8D8B4450B1ECSoil continues to draw attention and respect for the role it plays in mediating and moderating climate extremes. In a year that has seen quite a number of extreme weather and climate events blogs such as the one by Esther Ngumbi, posted this week on the Scientific American website, serve to highlight the role that microbes can play in developing resilient soils. This article alludes to the role that big companies are playing in making microbial rich products available to growers, but it underplays the potential for small scale, agroecological approaches – the re-establishment of sound composting practices and soil stewardship. A number of our postgraduate students are currently active in researching this route toward building good, resilient soils, and on a scale that aims for good soil as well as good stewardship!

You can read more at:

Interesting article in the Guardian this weekend about the importance of Early Years Education

Interesting article in the Guardian this weekend about the importance of Early Years Education:

5130The early years are vital for the development of autonomous, happy, well adapted children and teachers need to be well prepared and resourced. In partnership with NCFE CACHE we have developed a range of specialist early years education qualifications – in Montessori Pedagogy and the Steiner Waldorf approach to early years education. These qualifications blend the academic knowledge with practical skill through placement. They equip teachers to work with children in ways which gives them the creative, playful start to their education they deserve.

Being Challenging – the Government White Paper on HE

Today 16th May the Government releases its white paper on Higher Education. To see an overview of what this will contain go to

_89662857_009805784The White Paper reveals some interesting developments that could have positive implications for Crossfields Institute. Most exciting of these is that new providers will find it easier to obtain the power to award degrees. You will see in news reports that these are called ‘Challenger Institutions’ because they represent a challenge to the established universities. The idea of challenging the status quo around how education is delivered, what it addresses, and who can take part is something we like the sound of – its what we do.

The press will be focusing a lot on two elements in the white paper: the raising of tuition fees beyond the current 9,000 a year cap and the permission to do that being based on the score a University gets for the quality of its teaching as measured by the Teaching Excellence Framework. Challenger Institutions will be in a good position to provide cheaper and potentially more innovative degrees. Something the press doesn’t seem to be picking up on is a loosening of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications to allow for greater student mobility between institutions. This should make the transfer of credit for learning achieved to be more easily transferred. This is certainly good news for one of our latest projects which is to explore the demand for a completion year for people who never finished their degree and would like to do so by taking an innovative one year liberal arts completion course.

Exciting times in Higher Education – watch this space…

New Equine Facilitated Human Development Qualification

Crossfields Institute and IFEAL are delighted to announce the launch of the first Ofqual regulated qualification in England in Equine Facilitated Human Development. The new Level 5 Certificate in Equine Facilitated Human Development (VRQ) is now available for learners to register. This is the first qualification of its kind in this country, and represents a significant step forward in this sector.

IFEAL’s Equine Facilitated Human Development (EFHD) Methodology is a vocational discipline for professional business/ executive leadership coaches and consultants, mental health professionals, equine professionals and health and well-being practitioners who want to professionally master the art of employing horses in the field of human development.

Crossfields Institute is a Gloucestershire based education charity, specialising in the development niche qualifications for providers with a particular vision or ethos. The Institute is also approved by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications, exams and assessments in England) as an awarding organisation.

If you would like to know more about this qualification, please visit or contact Helen Philip on or +44 (0) 1892 770 139