Ed­war­dian exam sys­tem fail­ing to pre­pare stu­dents for work, says top head

Stowe head­mas­ter warns em­ploy­ers may by­pass ed­u­ca­tion by of­fer­ing their own on­line cour­ses

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Tominey AS­SO­CIATE ED­I­TOR

THE rigid “Ed­war­dian” exam sys­tem is fail­ing to pre­pare stu­dents for the fu­ture world of work in which they can no longer ex­pect to have a job for life, a lead­ing head­mas­ter warns to­day.

Dr An­thony Waller­steiner, head­mas­ter of Stowe, says that schools could find them­selves cut out of the ed­u­ca­tion process al­to­gether by em­ploy­ers of­fer­ing their own on­line cour­ses.

The most suc­cess­ful schools of the fu­ture will re­gard prepa­ra­tion for work as more im­por­tant than pre­par­ing pupils for A-lev­els, he claims.

He also calls for schools to adapt to ad­dress the needs of the so-called “phig­i­tal” gen­er­a­tion who see no dis­tinc­tion be­tween phys­i­cal and on­line worlds.

Writ­ing in The Daily Tele­graph to­day, he crit­i­cises the Gov­ern­ment’s new T-lev­els, due to be in­tro­duced in 2020, and calls for “new ecol­ogy of ed­u­ca­tion which puts work ex­pe­ri­ence at the heart of schools and uni­ver­si­ties”.

“We’re work­ing with an exam sys­tem that is not much changed from Ed­war­dian times,” writes Dr Waller­steiner, who has led the £12,220-a-term co-ed­u­ca­tional board­ing school near Buck­ing­ham since 2003.

“The truth is, mak­ing stu­dents sit alone at their desks does lit­tle to pre­pare them for a world where they will be work­ing dig­i­tally, flex­i­bly and col­lab­o­ra­tively.

“To­mor­row’s school leavers and grad­u­ates will re­quire a range of skills, not just scores: over their ca­reers, they are likely to have an av­er­age of 17 jobs in five dif­fer­ent fields of em­ploy­ment.

“Core skills like math­e­mat­ics, writ­ing and sci­ence will re­main key, but mod­ern em­ploy­ers de­mand new ones like col­lab­o­ra­tion, cod­ing, dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, flu­ency in lan­guages, crit­i­cal think­ing, cre­ativ­ity and en­trepreneurial skills.”

Call­ing on schools to pre­pare young peo­ple “not just for their first job, but for their last job”, he adds: “Lin­ear em­ploy­ment with steady, in­cre­men­tal pro­gres­sion looks in­creas­ingly out­dated in the age of Uber, Airbnb and web­sites like Air­tasker.”

Dr Waller­steiner, who is due to speak at to­day’s In­de­pen­dent Schools Show in Lon­don, said: “Some ex­perts pre­dict that by 2030, 400 mil­lion to 800mil­lion peo­ple could be dis­placed by tech­nol­ogy and need to find new jobs.

“So many chil­dren en­ter­ing pri­mary school to­day will end up work­ing in com­pletely new job types that don’t yet ex­ist.”

De­scrib­ing GCSES and A-lev­els as “too nar­row”, he says com­pa­nies such as Mi­crosoft are al­ready de­sign­ing their own on­line cour­ses.

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