Now that the new school year is well and truly underway, students will be embarking on courses that will in no small measure shape the rest of their lives. Whether these are in Sixth Form or further down the school at GCSE or SATS in primary school, these outcomes will have a profound influence on the opportunities and life choices of the current generation of young people going through school. Which begs the question, ‘Is our education system fit for purpose?’
The UK has seen a decline in national pass rates at GCSE and top grades at both GCSE and A Level are becoming more difficult to achieve. We have similarly seen options beyond school changing with students and their parent looking into other alternatives to university – not least of which avoid being lumbered with student debt after graduation. The economic and political uncertainty the UK faces in leaving the EU forces educators at all levels to look at the ways in which they are preparing students for a complex and complicated world beyond school.
Albert Einstein – who knew a thing or two about ideas – said that ‘education is what’s left after you have forgotten everything you learned at school’. Maybe he had a point! At Sidcot, we appreciate the need to see learning as a whole rather than breaking it down into subject-based silos. Beyond school, we see the requirement for collaborative working, creative problem-solving, clear communication and careful listening skills. Underpinning these is a genuine intellectual curiosity and resilience borne out of learning from mistakes as well as delighting in things that have gone well. We have devised a learning wheel which links all these skills and is founded on a set of values that have permeated our school culture for generations, yet feel particularly relevant for the times we live in now and the demands our students will face in the future. We combine thinking, communication and research skills with practical learning, self-management and collaboration. However, we align these with the traits of empathy, curiosity, thoughtfulness, resilience, proactivity, integrity and international mindedness.
In addition, we want our students to feel that their voice is heard, that they value being part of an international community, that they are aware of the impact they have on the natural environment and make a difference in the world around them. Our new curriculum model is a wheel with the learner at the centre, the metaphor representing a young person taking ownership of their learning with the support of their teacher as part of a learning community. We feel that this combination of values, skills and personality traits are the bedrock of an education that will encourage problem-solving and drive creativity within our students and deliver a genuine love of learning that will last them long after they leave school, ready to face the multi-faceted and ever-changing world that awaits them.
IWK – September 2016