‘Exam Factory’ Schools or a Broader, Whole Education?

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The Director General of the CBI, John Cridland, recently announced at its annual conference that : “In some cases secondary schools have become an exam factory” “Qualifications are important,” he goes on, “but we also need people who have self-discipline and serve customers well. As well as academic rigour, we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want.” Business leaders are calling for children to be given a broader education, with more emphasis on skills people need for life and work. It calls for school inspectors and league tables to look beyond exam results.
It is a tough balancing act for schools to deliver on this. Most I am sure would agree that producing ‘rounded and grounded’ young people is their aim; but with pressure on time, resources and money how can this be achieved?
And how can schools and teachers alone be expected to help students develop all the skills for life and work that they need, as well as succeed academically?
Collaboration offers a solution. Rather than a school trying to solve this issue alone, why not embrace the concept of what the writer Napoleon Hill called ‘The Master Mind Principle’, based on his ’17 Universal Principles of Success and Achievement’. The first Principle is ‘Definiteness of Purpose’ and we can all agree that that purpose is to prepare ‘rounded & grounded’ young people for life & work. The second is ‘The Master Mind Principle’ which is based on coordinated effort between different people & groups who share that same purpose.
So who can and should be part of this Master Mind Group? We believe it should be the school themselves plus employers (who are often parents too), who can help impart the skills needed as well as awareness of the range of careers available in the world of work, but also one other critical group which to date has always not been involved – the students themselves.
At Bright Futures we bring together schools, employers (large and small), and the students themselves to drive this hugely important agenda.
Students form their own Bright Futures Society within their school with infrastructure & training support from the Bright Futures National Team; reach out to a range of employers (most of whom come from the Bright Futures network but the school may have some of their own links which they are keen to develop too) inviting them to careers and skills focused events which the students themselves have created and managed.
The difference and advantage of this model is that it requires no additional resource from the school, as Bright Futures provide a lot of support; it is low cost; it taps into the energy and creativity of the students themselves to take personal responsibility for their life after school; the nature of this peer to peer network hugely drives up wider student engagement in careers, skills development and the wider world on leaving school.
Whilst for employers it provides an ever growing network of schools & future talent to engage with in a sustainable way; a low resource solution as it is Bright Futures who manage and grow the school network; and it’s highly cost effective.


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