Thursday, 1 November 2012


In their report ‘The Forgotten Half’ for the Private Equity Foundation, DEMOS addresses the same fundamental issues facing Sheffield and most big cities across the country and across the world. The report suggests how we can produce a capabilities approach to education.

“Our interest is in the provision of an education that gives young people the experience and skills to continually build their careers once they enter the labour market. We urge that the education system be less focused on pushing young people through the hoops of assessment that lead on to higher education, and more focused on equipping them with the capabilities to progress through the labour market."  In a recent ASDAN, Employment and Skills Forum Report employers identify “The gap between the workplace and the classroom appears to be as wide as ever." The most recent CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey (2012) reported on employer perceptions that have barely changed over the last ten years: for example, 71% of employers still believe that schools, colleges and higher education should be prioritising the development of employability skills.

This is in stark contrast to current education policy changes in the UK, which appear to be driving a return to traditional subject-based learning and written assessment into the heart of an education system. All these reports clearly identify the need to:
· Start early;
· Improve the secondary school/college curriculum offer;
· Inject ‘character’ into the curriculum;
· Provide better and broader school assessment for learning;
· Improve the vocational/technical offer;
· Provide coordinated, high quality one-to-one coaching and support;
· Open up schools to employer engagement;
· Improve work experience;
· Improve information, advice and guidance;
· Improve opportunities for employment and work-based training.

The Cutlers’ “Made in Sheffield” Project draws on evidence from these reports and a huge body of research to bring together three important elements:
· A project-based curriculum linked to the world of work;
· A skills framework developed with employers;
· A menu of opportunities/activities connecting learning to the world of work.

And most importantly to build on this research and deliver this knowledge and these skills requires a twenty-first century curriculum. The underlying design for the curriculum, derived from national and international evidence about what works and leading edge research, is that the curriculum should embody the following skills and aspects :-
· basic skills;
· character, resilience and grit
· creativity, innovation and enterprise; and
· higher level skills.

Watch this space!

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