11 Nov Head teacher’s Blog 11.11.18
A few weeks ago, when I wrote to all Daubeney parents and asked them if they would be willing to help us deliver our careers plan by talking to our students about their own careers experiences (something that I also mentioned in a recent Headteacher’s blog: http://www.daubeneyacademy.co.uk/headteachers-blog/head-teachers-blog-14-10-18/), I was delighted to receive a great deal of positive responses and over the course of the next few weeks I will begin to contact those who got in touch regarding leading our first set of careers encounters. As has always been the case with our community, when we need support myself and my colleagues are overwhelmed by not only the number of people who come to our aid but also the kindness of the messages that we receive. Ahead of the discussions with students, I will ask the members of our community who have offered to help to consider a point that is increasingly mentioned in educational circles when we are considering how we can best equip our young people for life after school, namely, how do we prepare students for those jobs of the future that don’t even exist yet? When I was growing up in the seventies and eighties in a mining town ten miles from the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the options were fairly clear, albeit also quite limited (you either worked in a factory or a shop, or you didn’t work at all, especially since all of the pits had been closed down), and any talk back then of being a web designer, software engineer or even just of working online would have been met at best with a confused silence. Yet, somehow, those are indeed the jobs that are filled by many of the people who were going through school at the same time that I was (although maybe also, to a greater extent, by those who are younger than me!) What we need to bear in mind, however, is that whatever the role is that is performed many of the personal skills, qualities and values of a successfully employed or employable individual have remained constant even during a period of huge vocational upheaval. For example, our young people, whichever occupation they enter when they are older, will still need determination, curiosity, independence, kindness, a reflective nature, an ability to take risks, a willingness to work as part of a team and a relentlessly positive nature if they are to be successful when they are older. In addition, the academic knowledge that they gain in our lessons will only ever stand them in good stead, regardless of how much all young people think that they’ll never need to know Maths, History or Spanish once they’ve left school. In a sense, the last point will be perhaps the most important aspect of the forthcoming discussions between our wonderfully supportive parents and our students, who really do need to understand that learning is lifelong and not simply isolated to their classrooms or to the time that they spend as learners in a secondary school.
However, the purpose of education, of course, is not simply to prepare our young people for a lifetime of work, whether in jobs of the future or in the jobs that will always be needed, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and emergency services roles, but rather to also prepare them for living rich, purposeful and meaningful lives. For the best teachers that I have worked with, not only at Daubeney but also in the other schools where I have spent time, teaching is very much about instilling a love of learning in their students so they too can begin to seek a deep fulfilment through books, study and wider range of experiences than were previously available. The best lessons are those where the excitement for learning is palpable, not because the students are working towards a final grade or because they have an end goal of entering a particular profession in mind, but rather because they just love the subject and the learning that comes with it. Former Headteacher Tom Sherrington, who I was lucky to meet at a recent CMAT meeting, describes this sensation in a lesson in his Learning Rainforest book as joy, awe and wonder, and this is exactly how it feels in the best lessons in Daubeney. Teaching is about a passionate love of learning from both the teacher and their students as well as being an opportunity for educators, alongside parents, to produce happy, creative, moral citizens who are able to live motivated, fulfilled lives whilst enriching the lives of others. Securing excellent academic grades, of course, is important, but there is much more to a quality education than exam results and schools should also be committed to producing individuals who are fully prepared for life beyond school (whatever the jobs of the future might be!) and who possess the skills and personal qualities to succeed in a changing and increasingly globalised world. More than ever, employers are looking beyond qualifications to the individuals behind the certificates in order to find confidence, self-esteem, problem solving skills, leadership qualities and other attributes, which is why our Colours system and our LOTC opportunities (such as last week’s Sailing Trip around Scotland, for example!) are such an important part of what we do at Daubeney. Being successful in employment later in life begins with our students whilst they are still at school, and our forthcoming careers encounters will provide outstanding opportunities for our young people to learn from other members of our community who have experienced the transition from school to workplace and whose offers of support have made me very grateful indeed.