Developing skills in a top heavy curriculum

Team Work to Success

We’ve all been there, in meetings where we are nodding saying that we agree that the point of teaching is preparing pupils for the world of work. We all agree that teamwork, cooperation, initiative and research skills are the most important things to enable of our pupils to get effective and useful  jobs for the future.  The problem is, is that we don’t know jobs the future holds for our pupils.  It’s difficult to predict even 10 years in advance – let alone 30 or 40!

The classic youtube hit – shift happens shows some scary statistics well – albeit with some of the facts questioned by some.

But what comes from this is that as teachers we do need to develop our pupils skills in a way which is effective to make them employable.  The main issue we face is we don’t have time to do it within the current curriculum framework – or do we?

Gove claims that by slimming down the new National Curriculum we will have time to allow our pupils to develop the skills they will require for future life, however with the current government focus on rigour, data and progress it is unlikely that this will transfer in our classrooms to having time to develop and nurture skill based programmes as we’ll all be getting our pupils ready for their GCSEs as early as we can.

So as teachers it is essential to establish which key set of skills our young people will need for future and embed them in our classrooms.  Skills like team work, co-operation, communication, reliability, initiative and creativity.  These are the old Enterprise skills which were championed by the Treasury, and can still be used as part of the 5 days statutory Enterprise requirement at KeyStage 4.  (Here is a link to posters I made about 12 key skill which can be displayed in classrooms – Enterprise Skill posters)

It is these transferable skills which will enable our pupils to have a good, competitive working life.  And it is these skills which we need to be allowing for our pupils to develop in our class rooms hand in hand with the curriculum.

Nothing that I’ve written here is rocket science, it is a reminder for our class rooms to model real life.

These are some practical ideas to help build these skills into our curriculum

  • Team work – get even the most simple tasks organised as teams – and set a success criteria.
  • Get pupils to create their own goals – what does good look like?  Then you can get pupils to assess each other
  • Nominate some G&T pupils to be researchers on laptops (as leaders).  The rest of the class are the ‘worker bees’.
  • Get pupils to transform information – from massive text to a paragraph – or even a picture or a logo
  • Give time limits
  • Make pupils accountable to you for incomplete work – what is the minimum you expect and what will happen if it’s not done?
  • Make pupils accountable to each other
  • Give individual team members different roles in preparation – use their skills – artist / researchers / speech writer / ict coordinator etc.
  • Give pupils an open ended question – then get them to work out what needs to be done – shows initiative and creativity
  • Make your tasks SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and that they can be done in a specified Time)

But what is interesting is that if we do all of these in our lessons pupils will be more engaged, which will reflect on progress.  It may take some time to embed it in our classrooms but they will become a more vibrant learning community.  It also will lead to less teacher talk, more independent and collaborative learning and a learning environment which will truly prepare pupils for life – something that OFSTED prioritize.

By allowing our pupils the opportunity to develop skills in a top heavy curriculum will give them the very best opportunity in life – and that is, ultimately, why we are in education – isn’t it?

Thank you for reading this blog, why not now download and use the Enterprise Skill Posters.

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