A report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and the think-tank CentreForum on Social Mobility, has recommended that teenagers should be issued, with an official school leaving certificate, listing details of their extra-curricular activities and employability skills. This move is part of a drive to improve pupil’s character and resilience and to prevent schools turning into mere ‘exam factories’.
The new measure suggests that all pupils should be given a report card, as well as exam grades. The report would detail their contribution to school life, including membership of sports teams, work experience placements, community work and attitude towards education.
UK’s Education System Fails to Create Resilient Individuals
The recommendations follow concerns that too many children are leaving school lacking the essential soft skills, needed to get along in the workplace and adult life. The proposed plan consists part of a set of comprehensive reforms to the education system, designed to boost vital personal attributes and social graces. These include the ability to stick with tasks, persevere, bounce back from setbacks, empathy and self-control.
Such skills are often overlooked at the expense of more tangible measures - such as exam results. This is quite shocking as they play a large role in advancing the life chances of children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Besides this, the report stresses that today’s education system should strive to create “all-rounded” individuals, equipped with the ability to stand up for themselves.
According to the report, an optimal way to officially recognise a pupils other achievements than their exam results,”is to provide evidence of the breadth of a pupil’s achievements across a wide range of activities and competencies.”
Extra-curricular Activities to Become Part of a Teacher’s Job
The Consortium also calls for teachers to be made to take part in extra-curricular activities - such as running sports and arts clubs - as part of their contract.
Taking part in extra-curricular activities, which help build pupils’ character and resilience, should also be made a key part of a school’s purpose and a teacher’s job. The report notes that: “This additional responsibility would either need to be met by a corresponding financial reward/incentive or by schools allowing more time for these activities within the regular school day”.
The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) is advised to evaluate the ‘extent and quality’ of extra-curricular activities and how soft skills are integrated in the school curriculum.
The importance of Soft Skills for Pupils
Liberal Democrat, Baroness Claire Tyler argued in a foreword to the report that “even talking about ‘soft skills’ is something of a misnomer because these aren’t fluffy or superficial skills we’re talking about – this is about having the fundamental drive, tenacity and perseverance needed to make the most of opportunities”.
It is clear that the current education system in the UK should change its direction towards a more comprehensive model of learning, which will have ‘soft skills’ development as a core mission. Schools should not merely concentrate on academic rigour, but create rounded personalities, with high levels of emotional intelligence and all the other skills businesses look for.