State school teacher, principal, school Inspector, advisor for the Council of Europe Education for Democratic Citizenship.
Mr Hannam practised as much democracy and student control over their own learning as he could get away with in his twenty years as a state secondary school teacher. He ended his school career as vice-principal/acting principal of a large English secondary school which pioneered the role of community school, where the school is a learning resource for the whole community and the whole community is a learning resource for the school. He then became a school inspector where he tried to support other teachers and schools with similar ideas. He was part of the successful defence of Summerhill school against the threat of closure by the government in 1999.
He has been an adviser/trainer/rapporteur for the Council of Europe Education for Democratic Citizenship project and a researcher/adviser to the development of citizenship education in the English national curriculum. At the request of the English ministry of education he authored the ‘Hannam Report’ based on research that demonstrates associations between democratic, participative, and student centred methods in schools and higher academic results, less anti-social behaviour, and better school attendance, especially for students from economically and socially deprived backgrounds. He has worked widely with many European school student organisations on the issue of school democracy. He successfully campaigned for the creation of an English school students association and has recently done the same for young people being educated at home. He has co-authored several books on the theme that ‘…if you want young people to learn about democracy in schools they have to do it and not just listen to teachers talk about it.’ Most recently he has completed a book recording and exploring the creation of a democratic learning community of 11-13 year olds from 1969 to 1971 in conjunction with some people who were members of the group at the time. As a visiting fellow in student voice at the University of Sussex he was part of a project to democratise the school system of a deprived English city which has now blossomed into a social enterprise run by young people. For several years he has been a member of the international Student Voice Research Network based at Cambridge University. He has contributed to IDECs and EUDECs regularly since 1993 and has been described as a ‘bridge person’ who tries to bring about dialogue between the democratic education movement and state or public school systems, a role that he has played in Finland, Puerto Rico, The Netherlands, Bavaria and, most recently, Spain and Poland.