Prepare for a Challenge

sisu is an ability to finish a task successfully…it includes determination, bravery, resilience,  perseverance and hardiness


In an ever changing world where the current workforce may well be doing jobs in ten years that don’t even exist yet, it is vital that the education system doesn’t just focus on qualifications and passing the tests. Alongside improving standards of literacy and numeracy there are a whole raft of employability skills that the world of business constantly refer to when defining what their potential workforce needs to be like. The previous post on this blog referred to a number of studies by the CBI that define these qualities and I’ve spent the last week reading even more by the DfE and its predecessor the DCSF. They all say the same thing!

  • Attitudes and dispositions to the world of work are formed early.
  • They are formed by home and personal experiences.
  • Most young people have high aspirations but very little knowledge of what is possible.
  • Lack of employability skills prevent many young people from getting employment and keeping it.

sisu markerInspire2Learn is trying to address these issues through the STEM days, the Challenge Days and the growing links it is forging between industry and schools but it is time to take it one step further with a FREE event that any school can take part in….

The Sisu Challenge will culminate in an event on 29th June at Inspire2Learn. At that event participants will be asked to set up ‘trade stalls’ that showcase the work that they undertook in addressing the challenge. It is based on a hugely successful event last year in Astana (here for details). There is no age restriction for the challenge, it would work equally well with Y1 as much as Y13, it will be differentiated by outcome. There are three key areas that students can tackle:

  • Social Challenge
  • Exploiting Technology
  • Effective Learning

HgI2cdjj_400x400Some schools will run this as an after school club, some a lunchtime meeting, some as a whole class activity from timetabled over several weeks. It doesn’t matter. Just like in the real world of work where challenges are met by a deadline, the work must be complete by 29th June.

How do you take a key question and develop a solution to it? That is the challenge. By doing so the students will have to develop effective working strategies such as team work and finding out key information that Google might not know. They will have to do this over an extended period of time developing resilience, reflection and planning strategies. They will have to use what they learn to create new ways of doing things, working creatively. And the reason for the event is not just a nice day out: How do you communicate your ideas? Your thought processes? How do you react to a formal conversation with a business leader about how you have tackled an issue?

carol-dweck-bwFeedback from the Challenge Days tells me that teachers and children love the teamwork, the creativity and the de-centralised classroom working towards a defined purpose that they have ownership of. It chimes with much of the research literature on motivation and effective learning, notably by Carol Dweck. The Sisu Challenge takes that one step further and sets it in the way that a project may need to be completed by a team in a company, over several weeks, self directed.

The project will be complemented by linking in to Newcastle University’s fantastic free MOOC, ‘The Enterprise Shed‘. Some of the materials from that will also be repurposed into iBooks and an iTunesu course because I know that would be useful to many of you.

4TeileFinal piece of the Jigsaw. The Centre for Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University ran a very successful piece of research using ‘Skype seniors’ to support children in schools over a range of subjects. Basically people with expertise and experience using certain subjects (such as an engineer who uses maths a lot) would give up half an hour a week or so to ‘skype in’ to a lesson and offer a different perspective on learning trigonometry or whatever. It seems that students really appreciated the authenticity of these sessions. We would like to invite schools who take part in the challenge to pair up with a ‘critical friend’ who will skype in maybe once a week to offer an outside opinion on the work that is being undertaken. Consider it an interim feedback report to management! We believe that this will add authenticity to the task as well as gaining essential feedback on how to progress the project further.

More guidance including question planners, strategies for research and examples of what each challenge area might involve will be launched during the first week after Easter.

If you think that there are any children in your school that might benefit from developing work skills, independence and problem solving or being part of a project team and presenting their work to the wider world then please email:

Incidentally, if you don’t have any children like that then I’m intrigued…..

If you are not a school but would like to support the project in any other way please email us too!

Posted on March 24, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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