Workforce of tomorrow
> The role of supercurricular activities in the 21st century curriculum
THE students of today will become the workforce of tomorrow. But are they being prepared for success in the 21st century workforce? According to a major survey of employers by the British Chambers of Commerce (2015), over two-thirds (69%) of companies believe secondary schools are ineffective at preparing young people for careers.
And it’s not just employers who doubt the potential for today’s educational system to guide young people in their career choices. In a survey by Career Colleges Trust (2015), three-quarters (76%) of pupils felt that their school simply trained them to pass exams with good grades, rather than preparing them for the world of work.
When grades are treated as the most meaningful aspect of a child’s education, it’s no surprise that pupils and teachers, both concerned about the next rung on the academic ladder, focus squarely on the exam syllabus. This comes at a great cost, however; students are forced to jump through narrow hoops, without being given the freedom to explore the realities of their desired careers.
At Cardiff Sixth Form College, the students are given that freedom with a “super-curriculum”; additional lessons and excursions that offer students the opportunity to extend their knowledge beyond the confines of the academic syllabus. They are placed in real-life scenarios that they could face as future industry professionals. Budding lawyers may get a chance to write a contract or take part in a mock trial, whereas those interested in finance could be asked to create a balance sheet and a business plan. As the lessons are also more project-based, they give students the opportunity to develop their creativity and cooperation – valuable skills in a professional environment.
These lessons are far more advanced than regular A-Level lessons. A student interested in engineering, for example, might be asked to use his mathematics and physics knowledge to think about how to build a dam. Usually this level of learning would only be approached at university level, but the college has found that students actually learn more effectively through these advanced lessons.
Although they may not always give the correct answers the firsttime round, failure can teach students a valuable lesson on how to approach the volatile working environment of the 21st century.
As educational consultant Karen Collias suggests: “In the global knowledge economy, failure is an accepted part of doing business. Think about ideas and products that changed the world – the pathways to these successes are strewn with failures.
“In the working world, each failure is a valuable learning opportunity and we need to teach our students this if they are to succeed.”
Can a school achieve both outstanding exam grades and effective career preparation? Cardiff Sixth Form College shows that this is possible:
“With 93% A*-A grades at A-Level in 2016, we have topped league tables published by The Times and for four years.
“However, we also take very seriously the responsibility of preparing our students for the challenges of the 21st century working world. Our hope is that more schools will begin to offer a super-curriculum that affords students the space in which to create and fail, in order for them to succeed in their future careers.”
CSFC students put leadership theory into practice while climbing Garth Mountain near Cardiff.
CSFC students visit Stonehenge, an ancient burial site in Wiltshire, England.
CSFC students on a visit to the International Centre for Nuclear Research near Geneva, Switzerland.