YOUR future project team
There is a lot of talk about lack of achievement and GCSE grades as being the reason that pupils lack the skills and knowledge to progress into the world of work effectively. I would argue strongly with that and I would be backed up by a fair bit of the emerging evidence that underpins WHY scores on etch doors maybe don’t hit the heights that the government would want to see. The underlying issue is not lack of brain power, it is lack of commitment and attitude to succeed that determines whether a pupil puts in the effort, both in school and out, to achieve well at school. Commitment, caring about what you are doing, showing some enthusiasm: all phrases that occur time and again when I speak to companies across all sectors in the Tees Valley. I don’t think anyone has ever said ‘we need 6 GCSEs’, or ‘2 A levels’ – the focus has always been on the wider skills. Obviously a strong commitment to succeed, even if you aren’t a big fan of school, will result in decent GCSE grades, maybe not the highest, but certainly strong. Our schools have great teachers. I know that some would say that the pupil scores don’t agree but I can honestly say that most of my friends got decent GCSE results and our teachers were on the whole pretty poor. I can now say with confidence as an experienced teacher that it wasn’t just the fact I wasn’t a fan of school, the way that we were taught was pretty shambolic in many lessons. So why did we succeed when the lessons were generally poor while our current teachers are so much better in general and yet the scores seem pretty poor. The research tells us that it is the attitude, the cultural capital, the sense of self and worth that underpins success.
Why the long intro? We have a great bunch of pupils from Unity Academy and Acklam Whin here today (Y8 and Y5 respectively) and they have been brilliant. I’ll be honest, they were pretty quiet when we started the Locomaths session. Nobody seemed to want to put their hand up in front of peers and it was clear that there was a sense of self consciousness in the air. But look at the images below. They have been given an open challenge, an opportunity to take roles that play to their strengths and a timescale to work to. We established what we would expect to see in terms of great teamwork and those principles underlie the day. I told them they could have as long as they wanted for break; most were back within 5 mins, they had stuff to do! What this shows, along with every other activity that we have run here with tens of thousands of pupils each year is that there is something fundamentally wrong if these pupils can clearly achieve so brilliantly at a task that uses maths and English, design, digital skills and presentation skills…..yet the scores at the end of school might suggest that they are incapable. I was delighted to hear from one of the Unity teachers that this more open approach based on challenge tasks rather than just purely knowledge is becoming more and more common in their curriculum and even into the way they set homework. The enthusiasm to succeed in here is palpable and if we can capture even a fraction of that within every day school then we will be some way to helping pupils care about what they do. The result seems obvious…..
And their presentations: