Dream it, believe it, achieve it

Posted: March 21, 2013 in Ministry of Future
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Dreams it

The Abraham Guest Academy in Wigan was selected as the school to pilot our initial ideas.  The Principle, Paul Bousefield, is very forward-thinking  and open to new ways to engage students in their personal development.   Paul and his team had already split the five academic years into three ‘states of mind’: Dream it (Year 7), Believe it (Year 8 and 9) and Achieve it (Year 10 and 11).  The thinking behind these ‘states’ struck a chord with our design team.

In Year 7, students arrive from Primary School still full of dreams about what they want to be in life.  Many want to be authors, film stars, footballers or, in many cases, more than one of these glamourous careers.  As the child develops within the school environment, many students begin to realise that they may not achieve their dreams.  The ‘Believe it’ state of mind is to not let go of your dreams, but maybe recognise that there are other careers that are closely linked to them.  For example, many students would want to work in TV or films, but they will only be aware of a few job roles, mainly the Actor, Camera Operator and maybe Director.  In fact there are over 250 jobs within the industry.  The same applies to Football.  Just because you cannot play for Manchester United does not mean you cannot work for Manchester United.

Year 8 and 9 are critical years in the students development.  Feeling all grown up and settled into ‘Big School’, students can often lack focus as they have not selected their options and are not focused on passing exams.  Yet they will be asked what options they want to take and many will not have any idea what they want to be or do for the rest of their lives.  Many will lack confidence and self belief too,  as they are being judged constantly based on their academic ability.  The digital industry, in this country, for example, is crying out for creative thinkers, people who have a brain that can think differently and challenge the norm.  How many such ‘thinkers’ are slipping through the net because they struggle with Maths and English?  How do we train or prepare tomorrow’s entrepreneurs from an early age? Where are the next James Dyson’s or Richard Branson’s? Critically, during these important two years, Students are given little context to their learning or exposure to the wide variety of careers available to them.  Many do not understand the importance of the softer skills too.  Why is it important to turn up on time?  Why is it important to be able to work in a team, or be able to present to a group with confidence?  If we, as a nation, could help our students understand the wider opportunities that await them and give them confidence that, not matter what their academically ability might be, they still have an important role to play, then we might begin creating a workforce and society that is fighting fit for the challenges of the 21st Century.

Even though we are not Teachers, nor do we profess to be experts in any way, many of us are parents and we deeply care about this subject.  We also want to compliment academic studies, but try and think of ways we can bring the real world of work and personal development nearer to the lives of students, in a way that is fun and not disruptive.   The Teaching profession can be a scary profession to engage with.  You get the feeling you are ‘outsiders’ who are criticising, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.  But you only have to read the news and see what is happening with youth unemployment, the impact on an aging population who are working longer and the global political and economic crisis, to see that there is a real need to wake up and acknowledge that the world has changed, fundamentally, and we need to adapt with it.     This sentiment has been backed up by the recent survey conducted by the Education and Employers Taskforce, which identified a massive mismatch between young people’s career expectations and the reality of the jobs available (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21762564).  The report talks off serious ‘information gaps’ in students understanding of the possible careers and points to the lack of funding in careers advice and the change that push responsibility down to schools, many of who ignore it (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20452398).  But who is best equipped to fill this gap?  A teacher, who may never have been outside of the education system, or industry themselves?  Maybe it needs a four way partnership between student, teacher, parent / guardian and industry?  Maybe we need to understand that to get someone to act, we need to motivate them to act and then provide the tools to help them discover.  It is a bit of a wicked problem that has multiple layers, but we thought it was a problem worth having a go at.

  1. […] were year 7 students who are in their first year at ‘big school’ and still hold on to dreams of what they want to be when they are […]

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