Work­force of to­mor­row

> The role of su­per­cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties in the 21st cen­tury cur­ricu­lum

The Sun (Malaysia) - - EDUCATION FOCUS -

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.

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