I am writing this on the way home from a great SWAT Conference. Fabulous surroundings – both indoors and out – at Exeter University made it worth the route march up from the station. Several of the paths are so steep I felt that we should have been provided with ropes and crampons, but it no doubt helped to compensate for some of the excellent buffet lunch…
Anyway, from challenging journeys to real world issues of another sort. Dan Roberts @danjjroberts, in his keynote speech, challenged the audience to rethink Why do you do your job? The two workshops I was particularly interested in attending were also on this theme; why do we do our jobs, and how can we encourage students to think about why – and how – they will do theirs. The first presentation was Real World Learning. I’d been looking forward to hearing this from Gary King, Assistant Principal at Tavistock, but as it happened Gary (@Gary_S_King) had to stay in school so Phil Ruse (@WellsportsPhil) capably took the lead and talked about engaging businesses – and students – in tasks that have a real relevance.
Sir/miss why are we doing this? is a refrain that most teachers will have heard, (and hopefully answered) but Phil pointed out that engaging both students and staff with long term careers outcomes has been a long & not always straightforward journey. Tavistock College have made real progress in this area: they attempt to flip the classroom focus to skills and careers whenever possible, engage with local employers and Chamber of Commerce, appoint faculty careers champions and produce careers based posters for each subject area with links to websites etc. They also use the www.icould.com site (similar to www.careersbox.co.uk) for film snippets of different careers, and have instigated a subject to career week with each subject area promoting possible employment areas. Staff CPD time may be necessary for planning in order to strike a balance between progress (in traditional school subjects) and preparation (for a longer term future – at university, in apprenticeships, and beyond into working life)
It was really great to hear from another local school who are thinking on the same lines and appreciating the real need for linking to the real world.
I also attended a workshop by Dr Sue Prince from Exeter University on encouraging Businesses into learning – she has been using business mentors with her law (& other) undergrads to set up real challenges for students rather than just using false curriculum led scenarios.
She went on to identify cross curricular skills valued by all the employers as follows :
- ability to work in a team structure
- ability to make decisions and problem solve
- ability to communicate verbally & in writing
- ability to plan, organise & prioritise
- ability to obtain and process information,
Demonstrating how these skills cut across every curriculum area, and yet more evidence of the need for “outside world” reality as well as good grades in the classroom.
A very worthwhile day with workshops to suit many different roles in school, or even to widen your horizons and hear about something completely beyond your usual area, and good to have time to talk to colleagues from other schools.
It was also lovely to have the luxury of time to share with your own colleagues – we had an impromptu conversation on the train as to ideal alternative careers, which ranged from jewellery and ceramic designer through graphics & writing creatively to travelling as a lifestyle and even being a ballet dancer. Fellow members of staff at DHSB will have to work out for themselves who chose what, but I can categorically confirm that Dan (Roberts) is obviously a great loss to the world of chicken impersonators…
Sue Moreton @suemoreton1
IAG co-ordinator DHSB