I had one of those moments at the weekend – you know, one that changes how you look at the world. I had my assumptions rocked to the core and left me re-evaluating how I rationalise what I actually achieve on a daily basis.
I had taken my daughter to a chess competition and was sat out side quietly marking some assessments. Whilst I had worked hard at creating the “I’m not nasty, but please leave me alone look”, three parents who I vaguely knew sat down at the same bench.
I was soon involved in a conversation that was to cause my current state of angst. All three were highly successful in their chosen professions, degree educated and in some way responsible for recruitment / retention. The subject of “how well do we (teachers / school) prepare young people for the world of work” came round – and I was quizzed over exactly what / how we test and assess our learners.
At this point, I was expecting the following come backs:
- Young people don’t have the “knowledge” to be effective in the work place
- Maths / English skills are poor and we struggle
- Science (my subject) – young people don’t remember anything and they can’t “do” practical tasks
- Learners think they can use computers but their Excel / Word skills are not up to the task.
Not at any point during the 5 hours (yes, 5 hours of chess) did these things come up. The ONLY and I capitalise that, the ONLY concern was this: (paraphrased as “quotes” from the parents I was talking to)
“Young people are entering the work place without a serious commitment to hard work / dedication.”
“Young people are not resilient - and just give up”
“Our biggest problem is getting people to apply in the first place – we have 150 trainee places at present and we struggle every year to fill them.”
“Sometimes we get these wonderfully qualified graduates who think that the company owes them a living and will not put in the effort they need to succeed”
Why I was surprised is that (as teachers) we spend an inordinate amount of time apparently getting our learners ready for the work place, team work, working with others and peer-self assessment. English and Maths constantly get the bashing and we insist on counting CSi including these measures.
From my non scientific sample, employers want young people who are keen to work, even hard work – possibly more than raw qualifications.
So, are they any studies linking employers “wants” to school outcomes – ie exams? Plus, how to you measure / reward a learners desire to undertake “hardwork”? Heck, do I reward hardwork or have I become too entrenched in outcomes?