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Headmaster’s Blog 5 November 2013 Remember, remember

November 5, 2013

Not so many years ago, and certainly within the educational experience of most parents, the emphasis at school was on learning recognised material, taking mainstream academic exams and then moving on to university / college for further academic study before going off to train for a job which would probably be the same for a lifetime. For some it might have been straight from school into the world of work or focused training, again leading to employment which would likely be the same for most of a working life. Today everything has changed. 

We have started the second half of term with two extremely useful meetings – one for staff and the other primarily for parents and pupils. In the former we were helped by our Head of Learning Support to understand more fully different learning styles and needs as well as the means by which some pupils could qualify for extra time or additional support in exams and controlled assessments. Some support is ‘material’ such as a pen which can ‘read’ a typed page and then repeat back words and phrases to a pupil. Other assistance comes in the form of extra time or a reader and a scribe. This is all designed to reduce the disparity between pupils where disabilities or learning difficulties are concerned and thus help all to achieve their potential more fully. Quite rightly the days of calling someone with dyslexia a ‘dunce’ – and leaving them to make their own way academically – are long since gone.

The other meeting was arranged by our Head of Careers and featured a visiting careers’ advisor who gave a fascinating insight into apprenticeships, diplomas, GNVQs, BTECs and A levels. She explained the routes through further education and reminded us that 60% of potential employers don’t worry so much about what we have studied but look more at how we have studied – the emphasis being more on skills acquired than on content. She also encouraged us all to realise that most young people going into the world of work now will change job types (and not simply job places) five or more times in their lifetimes.  

So much has changed and is changing that the pace is bewildering, at least for those of an older generation! The bright spots on the horizon include the greater understanding of people’s working styles and needs as well as the plethora of opportunity, experience and training open to our young people today. It may be true that around 80% of jobs acquired today come from networking  – less of the ‘old school tie’ and more of the seizing of chances to do work experience and job shadowing – but it’s also encouraging to note that over 50% of the jobs in the work place today weren’t even here 20 years ago. Opportunities have developed to meet the aspirations of today’s workforce and no doubt will change even more as the young people currently in our schools move on to employment.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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