Professor John Oates FAcSS, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education & Language Studies at the Open University, has been awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary for his exemplary work and tireless efforts for the benefit of poor and disadvantaged children, particularly in Roma communities.
John’s efforts on his main project, Sure Start (Biztos Kezdet), were recognised by the President of Hungary, who wrote: ‘The President of Hungary awards John Oates, psychologist, sociologist and senior lecturer at The Open University, with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary for playing a central role in developing the Biztos Kezdet (Sure Start) programme in Hungary, as well as for his efforts to further improve the educational programme for children living in the Roma community.’
Through his connections with Sure Start and early years policy in England, John facilitated the adoption, translation and adaptation of the English materials, methods and structures for the Biztos Kezdet gyerekhaz, the children’s centres, of which there are now more than 100 across the poorest parts of Hungary.
He continued to play a key role in developing the Biztos Kezdet programme, organising study visits to England for practitioners and planners of Biztos Kezdet, to meet with experts in early intervention and to spend time in English Sure Start Children’s Centres, and leading study workshops and training in Hungary for mentors, trainers and practitioners.
His documentary films, Harom Gyermek, Harom Sors and Örvény, have been shown widely in Hungary and England and have influenced the public and policy makers to think more deeply about the difficulties faced by families living in poverty. These films have won many awards, and are used in training and education in both countries, including with the OU’s students.