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  • Writer's pictureRichard Nicholson

Are we giving young people the tools they need to succeed? Creating a future-ready education

In order to allow young people to make meaningful, active contributions to their communities and workplaces, no matter which route they choose, we need to give them the tools to succeed – and that starts with education.

It can be hard to keep up with what education providers are and should be considering in order to enable this success, particularly in an ever-changing educational landscape.

This article examines some of the key trends and areas for improvement that will be discussed by passionate educationalists at this year’s Future Fwd conference – on Warwick School Foundation’s Warwick Campus on 8-9 July – working towards a truly effective, ‘future-ready’ education.

Curriculum and learning: looking beyond content just for examinations

Currently, the curriculum is perhaps too narrowly focussed on learning content simply for the purpose of gaining qualifications, rather than on creative and critical learning skills, oracy, and real-world problem solving. 

As a result, there is a risk that educational institutions are perceived simply as ‘numbers factories’, without consideration of how the curriculum can be designed in a such a way that young people not only leave with the grades they require, but with a host of practical, ‘life-ready’ skills that will allow them to flourish.

It is vital that we continue to revise the way in which our curriculum is designed and implemented if we want to create well-rounded young people leaving education with the confidence to take the path that is right for each individual.

Arts and culture: re-aligning its value

The value of arts, music, and culture within the context of education has perhaps been lost in recent years. Certainly, involvement in the arts goes far beyond simply enjoyment for pupils, as important as that is; it acts as a gateway to involvement within wider society.

If we are to witness a society of the future whereby passionate individuals make genuine and meaningful contributions to arts, culture and music, we need to give young people the tools to make that happen – and that starts from the ground up, with a re-alignment of the value of the arts within education.

Industry and enterprise: fostering an entrepreneurial spirit

Young people are becoming increasingly hungry for independence and entrepreneurial know-how. In years gone by, the ‘traditional’ routes were perhaps seen as the only way to achieve perceived success. Now, however, direct entry to the world of business and industry is becoming a route that many young people want. 

To facilitate this, education providers need to work together more closely in order to provide the necessary skills that business leaders are looking for, close the work-readiness gap and allow young people to make a more seamless transition from education into the business sector. 

Singing for wellbeing: creating a sense of community

Certainly, there is an undervaluing of singing within the current provision of education.

In the formative years of their life, in which education plays a huge part, young people need to be given a sense of community and connection – it is a salient contributing factor to their happiness and wellbeing during their time at school.

For those who sing, that is exactly what it provides; a sense of life; a sense of joy; and connection with others. Indeed, for those young people who may be quiet and struggle to express themselves naturally, singing acts as the perfect vehicle for self-expression, and can allow them to learn more about themselves than they thought capable, creating positive effects that can be taken into other parts of their life.

AI, tech and gaming: getting it right

There are perhaps no topics that are associated more with the future of education than artificial intelligence, tech and gaming. However, many people are confused about how it should be used within the context of education to enable young people to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

Jenny Parkinson-Mills, Director of Digitally-Enabled Learning at Warwick Schools Foundation, and speaker at the Future Fwd conference this year, says that ‘the rate at which generative AI is developing and evolving makes it very difficult for schools to take both a measured and an innovative approach’. However, she believes that it ‘can be used effectively to support with administrative tasks, to help with the generation of bespoke resources for individual leaners, to engage and inspire learning live in the classroom, and so much more’.

SEND: giving all pupils the platform to thrive

Education can only be considered truly future-ready if it is sufficiently prepared to incorporate the needs of ALL pupils, both now and in the coming years. We need adapt our education provision to harness their unique individual potential and give them the platform to thrive during their time in education and in their life beyond.

This mindset needs to be cultivated from the top down; integrated into the goals of school leaders and national policy makers so that the definition and integration of successful SEND pathways can be passed down through the hierarchy of the education system.

Existing trends show that this mindset is currently lacking, with a lack of dialogue between specialist settings and mainstream settings, Clearly, for things to change, commitment and collaboration is required.

Conclusion: working towards a better educational future

Nothing stands still in the world of education – in its provision; the needs of pupils; and the context in which it is provided. In order to make positive strides towards an education that is truly holistic and allows each and every pupil to succeed, ongoing dialogue and collaboration is vital.

The free two-day Future Fwd conference this July provides the platform for exactly that. With a host of talks from thought leaders and passionate educationalists, roundtable discussions, and skills-based workshops hosted by industry experts, everyone has the chance to join the conversation and be part of positive change for young people.


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