More focus on character, please

If we believe the purpose of education is to prepare pupils to thrive in the future, then we have to develop skills that will enable them to do that. We need to give them the time and tools to discover which direction is right for them and the ability to learn and adapt from their experiences. This means developing the skill of building meaningful, trust-based relationships, the skill of effective conversations, of proactive wellbeing, of managing their minds and the essential skill of taking 100% ownership for who they are, the decisions they make and the behaviour they choose.

For me, developing character is a three-part process. Firstly, we need to give students the time and tools to discover their unique character, who they are and how they can play to their strengths. Then we need to give students the skills that will enable them to take that character into the world and thrive. Finally, we give them the opportunity to practice these skills in a safe environment.

Traditionally, the approach has been to jump straight to the third stage by getting kids involved in lots of different activities and hope / assume that they will learn something positive about themselves.

This is a hit miss approach and has as much chance of teaching them bad habits as good.

Forward-thinking schools are now taking a different approach – taking time in the curriculum, using expert content and tools, and only engaging teachers who are genuinely interesting in human potential and learning themselves. If a school is genuinely committed to character development, they need to take it seriously.

I’ve spent the last 20 years running one of the leading executive development businesses in Europe. I spent my days sitting in board rooms and, while I sat there, one thing kept bugging me. Why are these life-changing skills only given to those who’ve already reached the pinnacle of their careers? Why aren’t we giving them to younger people – at a time when it could make a real difference, not only to the leaders they become, but to the lives they create?

I realised that if we were going to give our young people the best opportunity to thrive then this had to change, so I created Ivy House.

We have taken the core learning from our transformative, future leaders programme and put it into a programme for sixth formers. A flexible progammes of 20 modules, it gives teachers the expert content and professional tools they need to facilitate this kind of learning in their school.

Developing ownership, initiative, resilience, confidence and self-leadership, The Award bridges the gap between education and work, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to enable them to thrive, whatever their chosen path.

The Award is running in a number of schools including Canford, Eton, Brighton College, Charterhouse, Downe House, Cranleigh and City of London – and, following huge success we have just released another 5,000 student places for 2020-2021.

Want to find out more about The Award? Have a read of our brochure and give us a call.

By Elke Edwards, Ivy House
29th January 2020

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