How can schools prepare their pupils for a world that is changing so rapidly that many of them could end up doing jobs that haven’t even been invented yet?
That is the challenge one small school in York aimed to address when it decided to transform its whole approach to education.
For Clifton School and Nursery, traditional educational models focus on a content-driven curriculum that “fails to meet the needs of the evolving workplace”. In their place, it structured its curriculum around what it identified as four key relevant skills: resilience, resourcefulness, reflectiveness and collaboration.
In a category where judges were looking for evidence of “innovation, imagination and efforts to develop children in ways that go beyond the league tables”, Clifton stood out.
The judges were particularly impressed with the way the school embeds its values, rather than having rules. With a focus on compassion, trust, humility, hope, wisdom, endurance and friendship, pupils take responsibility for good behaviour and discipline.
The school’s approach is a synthesis of learning theories from around the world. Clifton is becoming a “beacon”, in the words of one judge, with many state and independent schools visiting to learn more.
The judges said: “Pupils are more questioning and inquisitive, and there is also a values-led approach. The effectiveness of the approach has been recognised nationally, with 50 schools coming to visit. The supporting paperwork gave examples of the remarkable thematic learning, an extraordinary approach to assessment and the most positive environment for learning without the need for school rules.”