Is it time to rethink the way children in our secondary schools prepare for their next steps in life? Top industry leaders are on record despairing over young people with a lack of ‘social intelligence’ entering the workplace. FTSE 100 companies report an increase in teenagers who have little or no ability to shake hands, make eye contact or even grace potential employers with a smile during an interview.
To be clear – we do not blame schools for this. As ex-teachers, we understand.
Due to the new National Curriculum in England, English Language no longer assesses the spoken word; speaking and listening do not count towards overall grades. The focus on teaching oracy – the ability to express oneself fluently and grammatically – is diminished.
The University of Missouri recently found that more than 75% of our daily communication is made up of speaking or listening. However, the average student in our secondary schools today may only say four words during an entire lesson.
There is immense pressure heaped upon schools to deliver outstanding academic results. As a consequence, schools put pressure on their students to become exam-passing machines bypassing basic lessons in good oracy and the opportunity to develop practical, social skills.
But it is students who demonstrate strength of character, emotional intelligence and self-awareness who tend to get the best graduate jobs after university.
In November 2016, Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said that preparing students for the world of work after Brexit was more important than ever and warned that the UK’s future prosperity depended on it. He said it was essential “that pupils from all backgrounds have access to an education that prepares them well for the next stage of their lives, be that higher education, entering employment or setting up their own business.”
That entails something more than achieving exam grades.
Laughton Scott has successfully worked with large corporate clients for many years. We realised the verbal communication skills we were teaching adults would be best implemented when they were young; being more open to new ideas and better prepared for their careers. It was a no-brainer.
We created Finding your Voice (FyV), a one-year verbal communications programme, designed for the Y9 curriculum but easily adaptable for different age groups. Incorporating aspects of our incredibly successful corporate training methods, alongside student-led activities, debates and whole school events, FyV is guaranteed to be an enjoyable, challenging and highly rewarding programme. The programme has been carefully written by a team of education and communications experts but is delivered by the school’s teachers, who receive full training and support from the FyV team throughout the year.
By increasing confidence within young people, the rewards will go far beyond the classroom. We believe that likeability, insightfulness and character are just as important as exam grades, equally teachable, and are more likely to excite students about their future in the workplace.
We hear this a lot from many school leaders. The financial pressure within our education system is greater than ever. That’s why we’ve constructed a model that works for all parties. FyV can be delivered in your school for no charge; for free.
We train teachers to become FyV ambassadors, giving them both a comprehensive programme and the skills that will radically transform the verbal communications of their students. We offer support to our ambassadors throughout the year, as well as providing additional training where required.
We work with parents too, to ensure that good oracy does not stop with the bell at the end of the school day. This includes parent events throughout the year as well as offering parents verbal communications training to help support their child at home.
You can begin the process of changing the culture in your school – maintaining the focus on outstanding exam grades – while realising the immense potential that delivering the FyV programme can have on your student’s futures.