At the recent GSA Heads’ Conference, we discussed the vital role schools played in empowering young people to reach their full potential. We spoke about the need to ensure we educate young people to understand their role as influential and meaningful members of society. We were reminded that the world is changing at a rapid pace, with technological advances causing constant shifts in the employment markets. As Heads, we need to act with confidence, to re-evaluate our values and goals to ensure that our school’s DNA is ready and adaptable to face this brave new world.
Andrew Schleicher Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the OECD explained: “Our current and future world requires most urgently from our young people ways of thinking involving creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, communication and collaboration, tools for working, including the capacity to exploit new technologies and last but not least the social and emotional skills that help people live and work together.” In light of this the OECD have overhauled the PISA assessments. As schools are we ensuring that our students have these attributes?
Central to this is re-examining our curriculums, are we being creative enough in what and how we teach? Are we teaching pupils the right material? Do we have the right balance of subjects, the necessary skills to give them the best chance of success? Are we offering enough cultural capital through excellence in the arts, music and drama? Are we paying enough attention to developing critical thinking skills – best developed through rigorous teaching of the arts and humanities, alongside a focus on STEM subjects. Are we promoting entrepreneurial skills in our schools, promoting the ability to turn ideas into actions, to be innovative and risk taking?
All these questions rightly made me reflect on our current curriculum, are we bold enough, are we creative enough and most importantly have we got the right balance of subjects to teach our girls the vital skills and learner attribute that they will need? Professor Deborah Eyre, reminded us that great institutions never stand still. Those that do go backwards.
At BGS, we strive to continually improve, and believe that our educational philosophy provides the backbone for a forward thinking education. However, we must not be complacent. As we embark on our next strategic plan we will be addressing these very issues. We pride ourselves on being Future Smart but we must continue to reshape what we teach and how we teach. We must make sure our girls not just highly employable and sought after but most importantly that they are thinking women who are at peace with themselves and confident to choose their own path, who are willing to initiate positive change with in their communities.