My last blog was based on the idea that Teachers should become ‘Leaders of Learning’ in facilitating a child’s learning rather than the traditional role of being givers of information. Leaders of Learning will find it easier to develop the skills needed in young people than if they see themselves as a traditional teacher. With this in mind I intend to write a series of blogs to continue this theme and to examine what the Leading of Learning looks like in the classroom in order to develop those all-important Soft Skills in young people.
This first blog looks at the subject of Careers Education which all Leaders of Learning should take some responsibility for as part of the learning that happens inside their own classroom. Careers education is also a hot topic right now in lobbying educational policy development. Recently Skills Minister Nick Boles said; “Giving our young people the skills and confidence to achieve their potential is key to creating Britain’s workforce of the future”. Schools, colleges and other learning providers have been urged to adopt a new 6 point plan to provide young people with careers education, information, advice and guidance which will better prepare learners for the complex demands of the workplace in the 21stCentury. This 6 point plan has been named ‘The Foundation Code’. To help bridge this need a new careers and enterprise company has been created to builds links between employers and schools.
THIS is how Leaders of Learning can play their part in the careers education element of CEIAG as part of classroom activities.
- Leaders of learning have careers themselves, they have experience of achieving a career. This knowledge would be invaluable to learners. It is important to mention a health warning that the leading of learning should not be telling the young person what they have to do or what the leader of learning did themselves, but open up opportunities within the classroom to find out about careers within their subject area of expertise. The key here is for the leader of learning to advise on exploration of opportunities and develop links with organisations relevant to the subject learnt. Try and get some speakers in to talk to the learners. When you do this, ensure that the learners (not leader of learning) plan for the talk and create questions or discussion points about the careers that are available in that area. Help to facilitate this by encouraging learner inquiry for the talk and help them to try and make it a two way process with the presenter, like a question and answer session. This will ensure that learners are engaging with the process and moreover developing the soft skill of communication which is much sought after by employers in the 21st century.
- When the leader of learning is creating activities for learners in that subject they should always have one thought on how careers education can be incorporated? An example of this could be in a Maths lesson when learning about areas or volumes. This can easily be linked back to the construction or interior design industries. Not only will this cover the academic knowledge needed but will also provide a real world context which will give the learner a connection and engage them. Remember, leading for learning is not about the giving of knowledge but engaging the young person to the extent that they want to independently learn or ask questions. To be able to learn to learn is another important soft skill required by employers for the 21st century.
- Through PSHE, careers education can be developed by creating student centered activities around researching specific careers that the young person may want to explore further. Create the activity so they think and plan exactly what they are going research, how they are going to do it and the specific sources they will use. Will they use primary research by physically asking expert’s questions? Will they use the internet – but what specific sites (it’s no use just aimlessly surfing!)? This type of activity will be focused on the planning that the young person does, carrying out the activity and then reviewing how it went to further develop their ability to research the next time. To be able to research effectively and find answers is a soft skill required by employers for the 21st century.
- Finally; In English as part of creative writing, leaders of learning could get the young person to create letters of application for a career they would like in the future at a chosen organisation. This could be a creative writing piece based on the letter being from a character from literature. Possibly one being studied at that time. Learners should imagine it’s a career that this character would like to gain a job in. Learners would need to find out about letters of application and also about the specific career they are interested in. A leader of learning would encourage the young person to make their own choices about their learning. Being creative and having the ability to make choices are soft skills required by employers for the 21st Century.
THIS is where leaders of learning can facilitate the development of a young persons soft skills within an academic context. I hope to cover future Leaders of Learning blogs on other key 21st century skill requirements and soft skills.