Why a financial and entrepreneurial education can help to close the

disadvantage gap Comment by SHARON DAVIES, CEO of Young Enterprise

British society is becoming more and more divided; in fact, the Social Mobility Commission recently reported that social mobility has remained virtually stagnant since 2014. With this increasingly divided backdrop, we need to do everything we can to make sure that the next generation of young people have equal chances to succeed. Equality of opportunity begins with

education. But throughout school this gap can widen, depending on how accessible opportunities are made. The worrying state of this opportunity gap

was highlighted by the Who’s Left 2019 report last month. The report showed that the true extent of the disadvantage gap in schools is being obscured by ‘off-rolling’, the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll before a census or inspection. For pupils studying for their GCSEs, anyone removed from school rolls

before January in Year 11 is not counted in their school’s statistics, hiding the reality of many students who lack the support systems to continue education.

And the problem is getting worse. This year’s report found that

24,600 students disappeared from school rolls in 2019, compared with 22,000 the year before. Schools are increasingly responding to the pressure to perform on academics, resulting in situations where some of our most vulnerable young people are behind left behind and not getting a fair shot at preparing for the world of work. We all have a responsibility to give the next generation of business

leaders, coders, engineers or nurses the confidence and skills they need to succeed in their chosen career. Smart and talented young people come from a diverse range of backgrounds. Schools, government, parents, charities and the private sector must play a part in helping to prepare our next generation for the future. But it’s not just about hard academic skills. By giving young people a

well-rounded education, rich in extra-curricular activities that boosts their confidence, we are opening doors and exposing them to opportunities related to the world of work that they may not have known existed. Enterprise education can have a hugely positive effect on young

people’s lives. Some of the young people that start with Young Enterprise are so unsure of themselves that they struggle to speak up in a classroom situation. Upon completion of the programme, many of them have found the confidence to speak publicly and truly find their voice. Financial education is also incredibly important for young people. As

contactless and online payments make it easier to spend irresponsibly, we need to give young people the tools to gain skills, knowledge and confidence in money matters. To truly tackle the disadvantage gap, we must ensure that we give

young people from every background the skills they need to thrive. The Who’s Left report has shown us the extent of the problem – now it’s time to act and help all our young people realise their potential. No one organisation can address inequalities of access alone.

Partnerships based on a shared purpose of helping to equip young people to support themselves, their families and their communities will achieve so much more. Our investment in them is an investment in our society’s future. They are our future.

From Uttoxeter to Ullswater: A journey of personal

discovery and growth Comment by KATHY FRIEND, Denstone College Preparatory School, Uttoxeter

Character Building is at the heart of education at our school and our aim is to help develop every child as a rounded individual. We put the whole child at the heart of everything we do, which means we focus on their identity and personal development. Enshrined in our aims is the idea that every child enjoys coming to school and that they grow into capable, confident, independent learners. We educate to high academic standards but believe that this must go hand in hand

with childrens’ overall spiritual, cultural and physical maturity. About three years ago, the whole school community agreed on 20

words which form the core values for living and learning in our school. Each month two words are taken as the core values and every class has those values on display. We have a whole school assembly each time the words change, to think about what the values mean and how we can demonstrate them. Outdoor learning is highly valued at our school and outdoor lessons

happen at least once a week. We are currently refurbishing our wildlife garden. Year 6 pupils are working on pollinators via the citizen science scheme Polli:Nation, a largely child-led initiative, with recommendations


for planting and an information-sharing day to come. Older children can complete a John Muir Award, which champions environmental stewardship. In addition, the pollinator project feeds into the award, along with The Outward Bound Trust course. The aims of the residential are to increase group empathy,

collaboration and co-operation. In addition the course is designed to increase resilience and

determination, increase awareness of their own skills and abilities and, importantly, to improve everyone’s ability to listen and communicate. We aim to enhance every child’s confidence and self-belief too and the residential involved a high degree of mindfulness of and concern for the natural environment. June 2019 saw 28 pupils and 4 teachers, divided into groups, do some

very challenging activities, such as gorge walking and jumping into cold water. The Outward Bound instructors got participants to think hard before, during and after the activity. They explicitly taught why pupils were doing something and what benefits it can have for character development. We focused on the difference between ‘survive’ and ‘thrive’ where surviving is a baseline but thriving is more efficient and effective. Our aims were always for the latter. Every child came away having had a very valuable learning experience

as well as lots of fresh air and fun. Sometimes reward is only achieved after a challenging experience. They knew they were being challenged to achieve something they didn’t believe they could do. They all went beyond their own expectations. It was so positive. Even camping overnight in torrential rain and trekking with heavy backpacks provided a real sense of doing something together and collaborating to make it a great experience for all. At the start, many children thought ‘I can’t do that’ but we talked a lot

about the growth mindset and positive thinking. By the end of the week, they were more likely to say ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t do that yet’.

Editor’s Choice 2020

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