Employability

Earlier this week I visited the new Studio School established alongside Ockendon Academy, and met some of the people involved – employers, staff, governors, and students.

The students seemed highly motivated, were enjoying this new style of learning, and were comfortable explaining why they and their parents had chosen the Studio School. Talking later to Barbara King, the Executive Principal of Ockendon Academy, and Christian Berry, the Director of the Studio School, both remarked that parents had quickly 'got' the Studio School model, and in particular the emphasis on employability skills.

There are though some groups who still 'just don't get it' on employability skills, and you can occasionally see evidence of this on Twitter. In the last month, I've had people tell me that the schools are designed to create a 'drone class', or that they are a 'Tory plot', or even that they are 'immoral', and that employers should have no say or role in the education system. Setting aside the fact that we have strong cross-party support, and that the first two were approved by Ed Balls, why would anyone disapprove of schools preparing students for the world of work? Perhaps these 'defenders of the proletariat' assume that everyone has a trust fund?

At the other end of the spectrum, there is sometimes a view that is articulated, as "A level students don't really need work experience". These people clearly haven't looked at employer surveys that repeatedly identify the need for employability skills at every level of educational attainment.

We all need to continue challenging these views; the more they go unremarked the more likely they are to perpetuate the orthodoxy that there is no real interaction between schools and employers.

David Nicoll - 28th September 2012