National Teaching Fellow 2009
Dr Gurnam Singh started working at Coventry University in 1993, prior to which he worked for Bradford Social Services as a professional Social Worker. Gurnam says his approach to teaching and learning has been intensely fashioned by his own educational experiences and social background. He grew up in a large migrant family in one of the poorest areas of the UK. Yet, despite the many drawbacks, he managed to be the first in his family to go to university. Reflecting on how he managed to succeed despite the drawbacks has led him to believe, if done in the right way, in the transformative potential of education. His own painful experiences of racism and poverty and his willingness to 'fight back' resulted in him developing resilience and hope in overcoming structural disadvantage.
A personal, political and intellectual understanding of human oppression has been instrumental in informing much of his approach to research and teaching. An effective teacher, he argues, is someone who is capable of humanising the teacher/student relationship. This is achieved when the teacher weaves a passion for their subject matter with an awareness of 'real world' concerns, humility and care for their students. As he frequently demonstrates through his own teaching practices, where these ingredients are present, whether one is teaching one student or a class of 300, education can become transformative. One Post-Qualifying social work student commented: "Thank you for yesterday's lecture; I found it inspiring. Your lectures always remind me of the reasons why I chose to be a social worker."
Gurnam has established a reputation in social work and beyond for being a passionate advocate for anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice; something for which he has, over the years become nationally acclaimed. Over the past two years Gurnam has been working as an expert consultant with the Higher Education Academy to help improve the degree attainment levels of Black and Minority
Ethnic (BME) students.
Principal Lecturer in Social Work and Teaching Development Fellow, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences