Saturday, 16 February 2013

Employability Employability Employability!

Ask most parents why they feel a good education is important and they will probably say to give the best possible chance of future employment, so their offspring can stand on their own two feet financially and lead happy and successful lives. A concern for parents in 2013 is, despite solid career guidance and gaining the best possible degree, so many twentysomethings remain jobless.

So how can you give your teenager the best possible chance of securing a job in the future? The answer, in my opinion, is to focus on employability skills and nurturing contacts with employers. Whether gained via a vocational degree course such as teaching, medicine or architecture, where on the job training is an integral part of the programme, or studying a non-vocational subject where a work placement or internship is an integral part, building links and contacts with employers is a must.

University is not the only pathway and many employers, even in what have previously been seen as ‘degree’ professions such as law or engineering, are now offering apprenticeship programmes to school leavers, nurturing their own talent for the future. Offering bespoke programmes which not only allows students to gain the academic knowledge they will need, this immerses them in the working environment, acquiring basic skills learned from the bottom up, while earning!

Sept 2013 sees the opening of the exciting new Bucks UTC, giving parents with 14-19 year olds the opportunity to put employability at the top of their priority list. In my view it presents a winning combination of core curriculum subjects, alongside technical workplace training, delivered in tandem with local employers from the world of construction and I.T. 

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Sunday, 10 February 2013

The importance of regular communication between school and parents

Last week I had a number of conversations with parents about niggles regarding their child’s progress at school, friendship or peer group issues or lack of key information to enable them to support their teenager in making informed decisions about their future. It amazes me that rarely do they seem to have discussed their queries or concerns with the school, choosing instead to seek answers amongst other parents or work colleagues. All too often parents appear to feel they should not be ‘making a fuss’ or interfering in the work of the professionals, leaving responsibility for their child’s education in the hands of the school, until suddenly a relatively large and unforeseen major issue emerges, seemingly out of the blue. 

Success for any child in education should be delivered through a partnership between school and home, where parents support and reinforce the education message delivered at school on an on-going basis at home. Waiting until the annual parents' evening when teachers may have 100’s of other parents to speak to, as well as reading the twice yearly reports seldom gives parents an in-depth picture of their child’s contribution at school or whether they are working to their true academic potential in all subject areas and are well integrated socially.

Regular informal communication with key contacts at the school such as the class teacher, Head of Faculty, tutor or Head of Year, raising small worries as and when they occur, will assist parents to maintain an up-to-date picture of progress, behaviour, all-round participation in co-curricular opportunities and to quickly resolve small issues or concerns, before they have time to escalate, un-noticed into a crisis.

If problems do arise in the future, well-established lines of communication and a supportive relationship between school and home will facilitate speedy identification and resolution.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Inspiring teenage boys to reach their academic potential at school

Boys like routine where hard work comes in short sharp bursts interspersed with breaks for physical exercise or relaxation. Concentrating on one task or project at a time will ensure they remain focussed and don’t become over-whelmed. Boys are competitive and enjoy being given the opportunity to shine, by performing well amongst peers in subject tests for example.

Instilling good habits when they are young such as completing homework at the same time each day, before access to TV and computer games, will set them up in the right routine for their school career. Boys may need to move around during periods of study as for some this helps with concentration. Food is also a key factor in fuelling concentration so have plenty of healthy snacks available.

Boys need to be inspired via future goals which aspire towards a particular job, university course or apprenticeship. They need to understand why they need to study and what they will achieve through working towards target grades to meet their potential. Picking the right GCSE and sixth form courses in subjects which they find interesting and which will lead into their chosen career is must. An awareness of the potential careers and salaries that will open up to them in the future if they work hard at school can be a great motivator.

Ensuring boys have contact with good male role models; especially where they live with mum and sisters in a single parent family is also important. 

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