Preparing pupils for the ‘real world’ – is the current curriculum enough?

In my role as Director of Sixth Form at Rossall School, I probably trot out the phrase “necessary but not sufficient” a little too much for my Sixth Formers’ tastes. When doing so I am normally talking to my students and their parents about the fact that, whilst top academic grades are a necessary requirement for applications to top universities in the UK and abroad, they are not in and of themselves sufficient for entry to the most competitive courses.

The same idea is relevant, I think, in considering the question of whether – in preparing pupils for the ‘real world’ – the current curriculum is enough? The answer very much depends on what you consider ‘the curriculum’ to be. Is it what students learn in the classroom or the totality of their experience?

At Rossall, our rigorous, engaging and knowledge-based academic curriculum is at the heart of what we offer; from the Infant School to the Sixth Form. However, whilst it might be the most important part of our curriculum, it is not its entirety. To enter the ‘real world’ as happy, aspirant and socially responsible citizens, our students need more than just an academic education. They need to know both success and failure on the sports field, to be taken out of their comfort-zone through drama and debating competitions and to experience the joy of music-making with their peers. They should have experience of project management, knowledge of personal finance, the opportunity to serve others through charity work and fundraising, and much more besides.

It is only through providing such experiences and opportunities that we can truly help to bring forth young people who are ready for the ‘real world’. This requires that as school leaders we must – when making decisions about our curriculums – recognise that the provision of a first-class academic education is certainly necessary, but by no means sufficient.

By Mr Stephen Prest, Director of Sixth Form.

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