We must shine a light on essential skills

8th July 2011 at 01:00

Your editor Gerard Kelly is right ("Employers find school leavers wanting, but are they looking in the right place for solutions?", 1 July).

Our learners do need the skills of confidence, enthusiasm, curiosity, investigation, resilience and challenge. But our political masters are steering the good ship education away from that particular coastline, despite the fact that employers are asking for it to remain in the harbour.

The comments by many of the business leaders also focused on the importance of skills ("A view from the bridge - what pupils are missing"). Christine Gilbert's comments are connected, too ("Too few 'outstanding' schools excel at teaching, warns Ofsted chief"). Outstanding teaching comes not from the instilling of knowledge into learners, but rather from encouraging the acquisition of the necessary learning skills to apply that knowledge to the appropriate context.

So why is the importance of skills not recognised in the education system? So many schools have to make knee-jerk responses to address the short-term goals of politicians, rather than looking at the skills every person needs for them to be successful in life.

I'm working with schools across the country and seeing a different situation where the emphasis is placed on learning steered by competences, rather than knowledge acquisition. In one such school, their observation rate of lessons rated "good" or "outstanding" rose 25 per cent in three years.

Phil Parker, Education consultant, Student Coaching.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now