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Leadership & innovation.

Preparing all young people for life – Contextualising Learning.

Working with students to develop their skills for life and seeking to equip them with a skill set for jobs that may not even exist yet, in a nutshell ‘Preparing all young people for life’.

That’s quite a statement of intent, one that I’ve had the privilege of working on over the last two years within our College. Following on from my post last year on Contextualising learning where I discussed the rationale and vision,  it’s now time to look at this as embedded practice.

Reading articles such as these; “We’re so well educated – but we’re useless” and “The dead hand of central government is weighing down on children and schools“. It’s obvious that the Governments’ Curriculum reforms and proposals to devalue vocational courses really has meant that Schools and Colleges need to be creative and look at more innovative strategies to link learning to real life. We need to realise that the pressures of exam results run the risk of turning students into ‘examination machines’ without actually preparing them for life.

The past two years has consisted of endless amounts of groundwork, trials and case studies all working towards a Curriculum which has an embedded vision, flexible to whatever new initiatives and reforms our Government throws at us, placing the students and their futures at the heart of what we do. As a College being ‘outward facing’ has meant that we have developed effective two-way working relationships with local, national and international businesses and organisations, other Colleges and Universities all working towards the same goal;  enhancing the Curriculum and learning experience for all.

Bridging the gap between education and ‘real life’ sits our employer forum:

So what does this mean for the teacher? How does this work in practice? How will it improve the learning experience for all students? some of the many questions I’ve been asked and my response; experiment, explore, be creative and most of all reflect and evolve. Ultimately I aim to facilitate real world learning by providing teaching teams with the links to organisations/companies/experts to enable them deliver various aspects of their respective Curriculum in a variety of ways linked to real life, through:

  • Case studies.
  • Guest Speakers/masterclasses.
  • Joint planning of projects/units of work.
  • Educational visits.
  • Up to date labour market information and emerging trends to inform subject specific IAG.
  • Work experience episodes.
  • Video conferences and weblogs.
  • Scenarios based upon real life contexts.
  • Collapsed Curriculum days focussing on entrepreneurial learning.

Aside from generall practice in most Schools such as field trips and educational visits, guest speakers etc I wanted to explore the layer beneath this. The everyday ‘normal’ good practice, one which constantly emphasises the vision and importance of learning in a real world context. This could be as simple or as complex as the teacher wants to make it, for example, it could be something as simple as crafting a learning objective by setting it in a real world or cross Curricular context; “Be able to explain how X can link to real life careers/professions” or “consider the skills needed for X and look at how they can be used in other subject areas”. 

Other more complex examples include working with a business/organisation to set a project brief and assessment of work, collapsed curriculum days with a strong focus on entrepreneurial learning, job applications and mock interviews with ‘real’ people other than teachers and so on…… I could wax lyrical all day about how passionate I feel about this aspect of learning but I think it’s time to stop there. Please let me know your thoughts/views, I’d really like to hear them.


About garysking

Deputy Headteacher - leader of Teaching & Learning. Change maker and believer in quality first teaching.

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