UK Polish Saturday Schools and Civil Society During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Anne White,

Sara Young


This article continues a theme recently raised in this journal by Małek (2019) and Krzyworzeka-Jelinowska (2019). It analyses the activism of Polish women living abroad, as headteachers, teachers and parents at Saturday schools, and demonstrates that Polish migrants are not as socially passive as sometimes assumed. We define civil society as ‘a society of active citizens, associating together and working for the collective good’. Our study of seven schools suggests that the Covid-19 lockdown stimulated some schools to broaden their activities as civil society organisations. Although some local links were weakened, for example because Polish Clubs were shut, the schools’ online activities expanded: more networking took place between headteachers UK-wide, and the schools reached out to a range of Polish and non-Polish organisations: locally; elsewhere in the UK; in Poland; and in third countries. Within the schools, the pandemic represented an opportunity to teach children about their civic responsibilities and involve parents more directly in children’s education. However, the lockdown also raised difficulties for all Saturday schools, not just Polish ones, when their credentials as ‘educational’ organisations seemed challenged by both UK government policy and some mainstream schools.

Słowa kluczowe: Civil society, Saturday schools, Polish migration, transnational activism, Covid-19

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