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Warning: Education minus human development can equal tears

A*s in every subject, a place at a top university and the ability to remember facts and figures? Or self-belief, confidence and an ability to stay well no matter what situation comes their way?

Now, these aren’t mutually exclusive. In an ideal world, young people would be leaving our education system with all of the above. But when we get down to it, what are the top things we want young people to be equipped with when they enter the work place?

Let’s look at the standard measurement of success in schools: Exam results. Yes, these are important for getting into university and for many students they give a seal of approval – cast iron proof that their 11+ years of learning has culminated in tangible assets that can be added to a CV.

Ivy House Founder, Elke Edwards, recently shared this anecdote: “I was visiting a client at a top FTSE 100 company, and as we walked through the foyer there was a young man in tears, hunched over in a leather chair. I subtly pointed a thumb towards him and murmured to my client ‘Is he… should someone check on him?’ He glanced over and said ‘Oh him? He graduated top of his class but can’t take feedback. That’s why we avoid employing people with just the best grades’.”

Top grades might get you in the door but they won’t help you to build relationships with people, understand your strengths and passions – or be able to separate your job performance with you as a person, which may result in tears when you get some honest feedback.

When we asked teachers what the top 3 things they want their students to leave school with, the same answers always came back:

  1. Hope
  2. Resilience
  3. Self-belief

Given that, how much time do we spend actively focusing on equipping students with these attributes? The answers average out at 5%. You don’t find ‘hope’ on the curriculum, or a 30 minute lesson in the day to teach resilience.

And, 85% of school leaders said that now is the time to change and embrace a different way of doing things, according to a recent PiXL survey.

So how do we ensure young people are leaving school with the critical human skills that will see them flourish as well as the academic results that get them a foot in the door?

There are two sides to this.

1. Knowledge

How do I become the leader of my life? What should I do as a career? What do employers really want? How do I stand out from the crowd? What should I do with my life? Am I a leader? 

There is a missing link between education and adult life. Students gain so much knowledge, but you can’t use algebra to work out the equation for happiness; knowing the names of all Henry VIII’s wives won’t help you learn how to progress in a career (but it may teach you not to marry a King known for bumping off spouses).

Learning about all the options available, having clarity over their future and understanding what it takes to get them there is something all young people should have access to.

That’s exactly what The Future Leaders Project is here to do – provide that missing link between education and adult life.

Led by industry experts and free for schools and students aged 15-18 to take part in, it comprises 2 elements; a free resource portal, containing lesson plans, activities, events, interviews and advice from leaders from a whole range of fields; and a competition that provides an incredible opportunity for students to be seen, heard and developed; to hear directly from employers, connect with some of the biggest brands in the world and help them in answering some big questions.

After everything the last year has thrown at young people, this is a brilliant opportunity for students to improve their understanding of self-leadership, leadership and make conscious informed decisions about their future.

2. Skills

Knowledge is power; human skills unlock this power to create an extraordinary life.

Knowing what field of further study will be beneficial or having a dream career is a brilliant starting point. And, unless young people have the confidence, resilience and the skills to build great relationships to thrive when they reach their next steps, there’s the potential for tears in foyers.

Students need skills that enable them to stand out in a globally competitive market; skills that employers are actively seeking and that ensure they are prepared for life beyond the classroom.

The key to all of this is helping students to understand themselves – knowing who they are, their strengths and passions and how to celebrate their unique character.

The Ivy House Award does exactly that. Built around 7 transformational leadership and life skills, The Award develops ownership, initiative, confidence, self-leadership and – that word again – resilience. It teaches them how to manage and not be scared of their thoughts and feelings, and how to proactively take care of their wellbeing.

Of course, we’re going to say that this is the best way to equip students with those three things we all want them to leave school with – and, it’s based on over 20 years’ experience of coaching global CEOs, in over 40% of the top FTSE 100 companies.

If we can give young people the opportunity to learn these game-changing skills now, when it can make all the difference not only to the leaders they become but to all aspects of their lives, why wouldn’t we?





Recent Awards won by Ivy House