Skills beyond the classroom: helping pupils develop into well-rounded adults

Head of Christ College Brecon, Gareth Pearson, highlights the importance and benefits of teaching pupils skills that can be used beyond the classroom

As educators, we have a responsibility to prepare pupils for life after school. Although some may argue that it is the parents’ role, we should not forget the extra resources schools, and especially independent schools, have available to them, which families don’t.

At Christ College Brecon we want to encourage our pupils to become versatile and confident individuals who feel equipped for life after education, regardless of their choices, which is why we introduced a Curriculum for Life to our sixth form pupils.

Curriculum for Life focuses on four different aspects of life: financial literacy; politics, philosophy and society; wellbeing; and the next step of life. These are aspects that will not only enhance pupils’ learning but also benefit them during university and apprenticeships, or when they first enter the employment market as young adults.

Every Saturday, pupils come together for a session which is delivered by external speakers. By welcoming guest speakers, we give pupils the opportunity to hear from people outside of the education sphere and learn valuable skills that they would not come across in the usual curriculum. It has become a means to enhance the current sixth form provision.

Regardless of where pupils will live or what they will do after finishing their A-levels, it is vital that they feel prepared for adulthood. As representatives of educational bodies, we play a significant role in helping them develop into all-around citizens that are confident and have a drive to learn and contribute to society. Curriculum for Life does just that, it helps pupils ease into the wider world, which can seem particularly daunting when they first leave their families’ home.

Curriculum for Life does just that, it helps pupils ease into the wider world, which can seem particularly daunting when they first leave their families’ home

A part of the programme focuses on the individual’s health and promoting active lifestyles. This was originally introduced to raise pupils’ awareness on healthy eating and the importance of staying fit.

However, as we continue to hear how many people, particularly young adolescents, struggle with mental health nowadays, wellbeing clearly goes beyond the physical. To help pupils thrive in the outside world, we not only promote a healthy physical lifestyle, but also promote mental wellbeing and support pupils in becoming more resilient.

Guest speakers have included motivational speakers Nicola Morgan and Floyd Woodrow. They both emphasised the importance of resilience, but also of leadership and challenge, highlighting how pupils can push mental boundaries and make the most of the opportunities that present themselves.

Initiatives like Curriculum for Life teach young adults to become forward-thinking individuals who have a drive to learn, even when they step out of education. The programme offers pupils an insight to many wider issues and encourages them to actively engage with these topics.

One of our first speakers was Sir Paul Silk, former clerk of the British House of Commons, who engaged pupils in a thought-proving conversation around Votes at 16. It is a complex topic, which is hugely relevant and important to this generation, who can change legislation. It was inspiring to see a room full of young people actively discuss a topic so relevant to society and see them become more confident throughout.

I am delighted to hear all the positive feedback from pupils, many of whom have commented on the variety of lectures and their relevancy. It is encouraging to see pupils become active thinkers and observe their increasing confidence, which is reflected in the classroom.

So far, Curriculum for Life has been a great success amongst pupils, parents and staff, which is why we are expanding the programme of study to both upper and lower sixth form pupils and I look forward to hearing from our current sixth formers in a few years’ time to see if the skills we taught them now have helped them as they transition into adulthood.

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