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 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first job, but for their last job”, he adds: “Linear employment with steady, incremental progression looks increasingly outdated in the age of Uber, Airbnb and websites like Airtasker.”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.