Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Equipping pupils for a hectic world

What kind of a world are we sending our pupils out into?  As educators, are we equipping them with the right skills to meet the demands of a rapidly changing work place?   Could we do more to prepare them?

Within the idyllic surroundings of Canford, it is all too easy to feel immune to the turbulence beyond. Our pupils are able to make the transition to adulthood through sometimes tricky teenage years in a safe environment where they are encouraged and supported.  We hope each Canfordian will leave us having achieved their very best, both in academic terms and also in the development of their characters and in their spirit, able to step out into the wider world with confidence.

One of our Festivals of Ideas was appropriately titled ‘Order and Chaos’.  The organiser, Head of Enrichment John James, struck a very relevant chord when he opened the festival with these words: “Every morning I drive to work down the Kingston Lacy beech avenue. The enfolding beauty and symmetry of the tree tunnel, with the rising sun rays fingering through the branches, seem in such contrast to the news of Syria and Ukraine, uprooted people, the chaos on the political scene, the levels of mental illness amongst young people and so on. It seems that we are all fighting to create a sense of order in this chaotic world.”

At this festival, Anthony Seldon placed importance on taking time to explore one’s inner self, in order to face a chaotic external life.  Without this inner confidence, he argued, we will never be able to bring order and fulfilment to our own lives, and this is an important prerequisite for making a positive difference to the lives of others, whatever paths we choose to follow.  In order to achieve this inner peace we need to make time and space for thought and reflection.

According to one educational commentator, it is the so-called 'soft' skills and character traits of creativity, teamwork, leadership, empathy, grit, and resilience that give independent school pupils a truly rounded, meaningful and enduring educational experience that impacts well beyond their classroom years. Sentiments echoed by many others in and beyond the sector.  I am proud that our pupils regularly demonstrate these attributes in so many areas of life across the school community, through both their ongoing personal interactions and on a more public stage. Whether it be our sportsmen and women winning through to County, Regional and National honours, our NCOs leading the CCF through a successful annual inspection, our musicians performing complex works as part of their Diplomas or Houses testing their creative skills in the annual House Art competition, our pupils are given the opportunity to develop their confidence and their spirit far beyond their comfort zones.

What myself and my colleagues see emerging and developing in the young Canfordians we work with each day are qualities which we believe will help to address and re-order at least some of the chaos which surrounds us.

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