Monday, 15 September 2014

Education for life

Right then, devoted readers. You no doubt will have spent so long poring over our shiny brand new Statement of Vision and Values that every last syllable has been indelibly printed the bits of your brain devoted to memorising stuff.  Am I right? OK then, I'm going to test you. What was the last 'value' on our list? Think hard now. Got it? 

Of course you did. We want our students to be characterised by dynamism. That English word is derived from the Greek δύναμις or dunamis to transliterate, meaning power. Now, power could simply be construed as the ability to bend others to your will; 'might is right'. That's diabolical dynamism and is not something we're overly keen to promote. Rather, as one of our key values, dynamism is defined as,
Ensuring that our students grow and develop into well-rounded, reflective individuals with a strong sense of moral purpose. By doing so we encourage them to contribute positively to the world in which we live.
High minded talk of 'moral purpose' may seem a little old fashioned. Quaint even. Could have been written by a Vicar or something. But a number of recent studies have highlighted the importance of education as an exercise in character formation. Students don't simply need to learn English, Maths, History, Physics, Dance, Drama, or whatever so they can pass their exams. According to a report commissioned by the CBI, schools also need to teach character to children and be judged on their success in doing that by Ofsted. 
Speaking in an interview with The Times to mark the launch of the report John Cridland, director-general of the CBI argued that schools should teach pupils resilience [also one of our values] and how to be “rounded and grounded”. Any school failing to do that should not be rated Outstanding, he said, even if it achieved great results. Cridland went on to spell out what he meant by 'character', 
I mean resilience, humility, emotional intelligence, team spirit, someone who will go the extra mile... Some young people are surprised by the workplace. This generation is the most streetwise there has ever been . . . so how can they be the least ready for the world of work? There’s a disconnect between the workplace and what they think it looks like — it is more informal and a collective team effort than they realise.
It seems that Ofsted head honcho, Sir Michael Wilshaw agrees saying,
Too many teenagers leave school without having learnt how to dress smartly, speak politely, and turn up for work on time [and that] young people were not well enough prepared for work, contributing to high levels of youth unemployment. The Times [paywall protected]. 
Our rigorous approach to matters such as school uniform and punctuality is designed to ready our students for the disciplines of working life. Of course we want to teach our pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed academically. But that is not enough on its own. We will also endeavor to inculcate key character-forming values and virtues that will help shape our students into 'rounded and grounded' individuals with a strong sense of moral purpose. That's because at Matravers we believe that education is not just for school, but for life.