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The Appetite is There

Resilience-For-Success-3dAfter my post last week there is a clear mandate for teaching character and resilience.  Of those voting 100% agreed that it is something we should be doing in our schools.

There were a few e-mails sent too – saying we were already teaching it, which is great news. A few of these seemed to think there was a criticism in what I was saying and this was not intended. So many schools do so much already and the profession is constantly being challenged and under review from the Government, Ofsted, the media and parents (to mention a few).

Given this and the changes to terms and conditions, pensions and the many initiatives, it isn’t surprising to find teachers and other staff feeling demotivated.  Despite this so many continue to give their best to students every day and you are our heroes as you strive to raise ambition and achievement.

Yet these days you really need to be superheroes. Exams and knowledge are still so important to life chances and in themselves also provide enjoyment and opportunities for learning. However, I know many of you agree that this isn’t enough and that we shouldn’t choose between exams and knowledge or wider skills – we have to teach both.

We have to help all young people, irrespective of their background to develop the wider skills that will enable them to make the most of their potential. We talk about character, though the word in itself has been linked too much with private schools and with those who have advantages through their upbringing.

You can pick your own words that make up character – here are a few you might choose from; personality, nature, disposition, temperament, mentality, make-up, mould, confidence, attributes, attitude, qualities, individuality, uniqueness, spirit and ethos.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Dr Seuss

While we want to encourage every young person to stand out, find their own way and to celebrate their uniqueness, there is much we can learn from looking at successful people. There are many common traits that they possess, so why wouldn’t we teach these in schools, just like other subjects. It is about providing further knowledge, role modelling and lighting a fire, to inspire every student to give their best every day. Yet is is challenging to fit everything in.

By sharing stories and ensuring young people are aware of just why people are more likely to achieve success we not only increase life chances, but improve exam performance too. As long as we start early enough and teach this well, many more students will see the relevance of school to what it is they want to achieve and as a result will be more engaged with the academic subjects.

And these wider skills and behaviours can be taught. If not, why would so many business people have coaches and businesses engage training companies. While it isn’t always successful, when it is done well, linked to values and outcomes, amazing changes can take place and quickly.

Background should not be a handicap to this and with the rise in pupil premium, wouldn’t it be far more effective to spend on resources that really do challenge young people to set and follow their dreams and give them the skills to best do this?

What do you think?