An education revolution


Education is a hot topic at the moment over here in the UK. It was only a few weeks ago that hundreds of thousands of students received their A level results; an event that must have made alcohol sales sky rocket! Much of the TV coverage is on the importance of achieving good grades and how children’s futures are defined by them.

Perhaps the most depressing image was a head teacher addressing a room full of cross-legged 7 year olds. He was preparing them for the time when they would have to make a decision about their secondary school and said that this would be the ‘most important decision of their lives’ and one that would ‘shape their futures’.

Good lord! How much pressure do we want to put on our kids?! With an approach like this, any kid that doesn’t achieve the desired grades is more or less being told that they will fail in life.

Yes, these decisions are important. Yes achieving high grades can open doors but there are so many other experiences that truly make our existence richer. Imagination, creativity, vision, communication, experimentation, passion, determination, cooperation and fellowship. These are just a few. It is no surprise that a recent study of graduate employers highlighted the fact that many graduates with high grades actually demonstrate poor ‘soft skills’. The skills that were most in demand – ‘interacting and presenting’ and ‘supporting and cooperating’ – were the ones that were most lacking.

The system needs changing. We need to create something that is flexible and inspiring, and one that actively seeks to uncover the talents and strengths of all children. And it needs to start now.


5 thoughts on “An education revolution

  1. Nick Walrond

    Charlie – your observations are spot on – and it is not only within education that we see this. Within most sports the coaching of children (anyone under 16) is primarily parent led, and as a consequence the objective of the coaching eduication is questionable – i.e. is the sport focussed on the childs success or achieving a win for the parent?

    Someone once said (am sure this was a renowned figures but can’t remembert the name) “Success and winning are different. For success, striving to win is more important than actually winning. The child can execute the best performance of their life and still lose. This child can feel positive because …… success is equal to good performance”

    Developing and educating our children to make their own decisions, based on understanding the environment, task and a variety of other factors will surely develop more rounded personalities and more capable sports people or students – and thus employees.

    It is time to stamp out bad practice, and allow the next generation the freedom to learn, understand and develop by encouragement and experience not through pressure and outcomes.


  2. As a parent I couldn’t agree more Charlie. Kids suffering from stress is not a good start in life. And kids with fantastic grades definitely don’t guarantee perfect working adults. My experience of school was that the worst teachers were the nerdily intellectual Oxbridge grads – I’m sure I don’t need to mention any names, fellow old Warwickian! Sure, they knew their stuff but they didn’t have the social skills (or in some cases social graces) to teach, or relate to children. Education is only partly about qualifications and never more so, as the exams at GCSE and A level get easier and easier. I have heard peers in similar creative positions as my own say that they wouldn’t employ a “first” grade grad in a design position because it represents something they’re not after in a team. Although I personally wouldn’t be that brutal I think the argument has legs – it isn’t something I find ridiculous. And some of the most successful people I know (and financially scores only about a 5th of that measure for me) either cocked school / higher education up or never went on to higher education. Firsts with honours in personality and charisma prevail in the end. Right from the start we need to give kids the space to breathe and – be kids. Otherwise God help us all, the country will be run by a bunch of twitching, soul-less freaks.

    Loving the posts Charles – keep up the good work.


    • Thanks for your comment Dave. As you know, I am not a parent as yet but, if I am blessed to be one, I will think very hard about the type of school environment I want my child to be exposed to.

      Yes, the world is competitive and yet there has to be a way that we can prepare our children in a way that doesn’t limit their development because of fear and worry.

      It is only a ‘dog eat dog’ world if we want it to be that way. There are certainly ways to be the best that you can without impinging on the rights of others.

      We should be encouraging mistakes at school and not simply right answers. If a child is making mistakes it is stretching itself and if it is stretching itself he/she is learning.


  3. Thanks for taking the time to reply Walders. Since much of my time is spent in the professional sporting world I have been rather removed from arguably the most important area – youth sport, the place without which there would be no professional sport.

    Professional sport or elite sport (an expession that can have positive and negative connotations) as it likes to be known as, is actually not all about winning. Clearly winning is a massive part both for the individuals and the managers, since professional sport is a commercial entity, but it is the route to winning that is the most interesting. Being an elite sportsperson is all about being the very best that you can and training reflects this aim. The most successful sports teams are not the ones with all the star players but are the ones where highly skilled players are able to demonstrate their individual flair combined with their ability to bring out the best in those around them.

    I completely agree with you. Too many touchlines are packed with parents screaming for victory at all costs which can be to the detriment of their child’s development and learning. We learn by mistakes. A child has to fall over before it can walk and therefore the early years of child’s sporting life should be focused on developing skills, teamwork, decision making and the confidence to express themselves.


  4. Great post Charlie and I really resonated with the guys’ who replied and your responses also.
    As you know I’m pretty heavily into youth cricket both with private clients plus schools and club work. And perhaps its because of some strange Law of Attraction – I seem to be avoided by the parental success seekers (thank goodness) because I only work with processes and not outcomes for my young clientelle!
    In the course of Chance to Shine this last summer term one of the ‘high octane’ games we ran involved players choosing to bat with a stump rather than a bat. Those who did amazed themselves, teachers and class mates with their level of expertise. It was all about technique and total concentration – pretty good for primary school kids, not necessarily cricketers as such. There were no parents watching however!

    Keep ’em coming!!


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