The importance of a punctual breakfast

28th November 1997 at 00:00
WHEN LUCY Fairclough was struck by the prospect of her mock GCSEs last weekend, she did her best to put them out of her mind and get back to having fun.

Arriving at school on Monday morning, however, she could avoid them no longer. Lucy was handed a blank revision time-table in a brand new binder before being confronted by John Hillier, personnel manager at Weetabix, who had come to stress the importance of time management skills to Year 11 pupils.

This skill is just one of many that the pupils at Prince William School in Peterborough have attempted since the introduction at the beginning of the year of Glaxo Wellcome's Personal Effectiveness Programme. Each skill is introduced by an industrialist, who explains its relevance to the working world. Then teachers introduce it into lessons.

Sarah Young, the deputy head, said: "Employers are constantly saying they don't just want people with a clutch of exam results, they also want those who can present ideas, organise themselves and manage their time, yet none of that is tested at GCSE."

To introduce the idea of time management, Mr Hillier uses breakfast as an example. "To ensure that you can have your Weetabix before school, we have to make sure that all our suppliers get their materials to the factory at the right time.

"Time affects everything we do. If we don't satisfy our customers, ultimately our business will fail. Time affects everything you do, too, because the more organised you are the more likely you are to succeed at school."

The opportunity for pupils to improve their time management skills comes at the end of the lecture. Teachers have drawn up lists of exam topics - from meal planning in food and nutrition to respiration in science - and pupils must ensure they collect these in the lunch hour.

Once they have their topic lists the Year 11s are expected to create their own revision sheet for each topic to prove they have revised it and insert it into their binders.

Teachers believe the proof of their success in achieving time management will be seen in their GCSE results. Already Francis Coombe is boasting that pupils beat the predicted 48 per cent five A-C grades by 4 per cent, taking the school to a total of 52 per cent.

Presentation, research skills, and interpersonal communication skills form part of the scheme to help pupils gain employers' confidence. To explain presentation skills teachers pasted fluorescent yellow posters on the walls which described how they should present their work for maximum effect. Employers were asked to discuss how the pupils could improve their own presentation. Ian Norman, a 15-year-old pupil, said: "I had never thought about presentation skills before. Now I have learnt to think about what I look like and how my work is presented. My time management skills are very poor, though, and I don't think the binder will help me as I learn by reading rather than writing revision sheets."

Tim Greer, another pupil, said: "It's not just what you look like, but your voice, stance and body language that matter. To put the new-found skills into practice," said Tim, "we took new parents round the school on an open day. We prepared notes on different details of the school and at first I found myself reading from them, but soon I relaxed and we were chatting away."

Pupils were also encouraged to research their science topics to gain investigative skills - these were used particularly during work experience.

"During work experience at Virgin Our Price," Tim added, "my research skills helped me to use the computer to check stocks and my presentation skills helped me to talk to customers on the phone."

For Lucy Fairclough, the introduction to time management appears to have sparked feelings of guilt. She doesn't think she'll be having any fun this weekend.

"The folder will be on my desk staring me in the face and it will difficult to do nothing."

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