Teaching Skills for the Future

Teaching Skills for the Future

As the management team here at Bradfield embark on our strategic planning for the year ahead,  I’ve attended some great professional development in the last few weeks with some of Australia’s leading educators and influencers to test and build on our thinking. It’s clear that we are all grappling with how young people will fare in the new workplace. Jobs are changing more rapidly than in any time in our history and the traditional HSC model is not keeping pace and equipping our young people with all the right skills they need.

Education of our those aged 14-20 cannot be just about final exams and marks. Unless we equip young people with a broad range of skills, their future working lives will be unstable and unfulfilling and our workforce will not keep pace with change. These messages are core to the way we approach senior education at Bradfield and in particular the importance of our Industry Experience Program (IEP) in year 11 which provides a unique educational experience encompassing enterprise skills real world learning and project work. It’s always good to hear these consistent messages coming from such great speakers. Here are some of my key take-away messages:

Jan Owen Chief Executive Foundation Young Australia at the 26 October FYA Masterclass:

Jan Owen was clear that we need to break down the artificial boundaries that exist between various agencies e.g. school, TAFE, universities, employers. We need one ecosystem with the learner in the middle and deep vertical expertise surrounding the learner. The artificial boundaries need to be more porous and speak to each other. Cross sector collaboration is key.

In their research FYA has found that employers are saying, “Show me the person.” They want to see the human – not the bands and ATAR scores. Education needs to change from being all about “acing the test” to “developing skills”.

For students to survive in the new workplace Jan Owen says they need:

  • Strong foundational skills in literacy, numeracy and language.
  • Technical skills related to discipline e.g. science, technology, humanities, engineering, business studies.
  • Enterprise skills (also known as soft skills, 21st century skills, and general capabilities):
    • Confidence and energy
    • Creativity and innovation
    • Enthusiasm for ongoing learning
    • Critical thinking and ability to critically assess information
    • Collaboration - working with others
    • Communication - verbal, written, visual, presentation skills
    • Project management
    • Financial literacy
    • Digital literacy
    • Global enthusiasm/citizenship
  • Career management skills:
    • Self-awareness
    • Decision making to build career
    • Use of career services/information
    • Lifelong learning
    • Work-life balance

We used to think that these skills were developed in the workplace after students left school, or further education but more and more, leading thinkers are seeing the need to have these instilled at an earlier age.

Mark Scott Secretary NSW Department of Education In Conversation with Leigh Sales 2 November 2017 ACEL

This was a very entertaining and informative discussion with Leigh Sales ‘grilling’ her former boss at the ABC, Mark Scott. He revealed his personal interest in education and his drive to make a difference for every child in NSW. Scott said schools need to focus on skills of the future - tailoring what we are teaching for a changing world. He said that students will need:

  • strong literacy and numeracy skills as a foundation so that people can learn, learn and learn again.
  • deep knowledge and mastery of some subjects.
  • general capabilities - which, Scott said, we are not as good at measuring. He sees the need for new metrics and greater sophistication in the assessment of these skills.

Scott said that schools need to be delivering outstanding lifetime opportunities for children and instilling a sense of ambition through demonstrated and improved educational/learning outcomes and the provision of a complete and rounded education.

In particular I took away from this conversation the need for continuous improvement. Every student must improve every year, every teacher must improve every year, as leaders we must improve every year and in turn our school must continue to improve every year. We can never afford as educators to rest on our laurels or use the same tried and tested lessons or approaches that we’ve been using for years. Our audience (students) change every year, as rapidly as the workplace is changing and I am gratified to work with a team of professional educators at Bradfield who embrace this approach.

In conclusion - The Idea is Everything: Term 4 Innovation in Teaching and Learning

We’re creating these events that are more exciting and meaningful to students and allow the development of enterprise skills because students are less focused on marks and more on genuine engagement with their learning.

As we near the end of the school year, I’m particularly looking forward to our new year 12 “The Idea is Everything” Soirée in week 7 which was inspired by one of our great art teachers, Lise Henriksen.. The Idea is Everything event will spread across the whole week in a variety of classroom activities and dedicated studio time -  culminating in a soirée on Thursday 23 November from 4-6pm with performances, markets and exhibitions.

It’s all about providing non-traditional opportunities for students to express their ideas during this week and engage in lively discussion and feedback with other teachers, other students, parents and community. We’re confident that spending the time to work on the development of ideas at this stage in year 12 year will pay great dividends in the progress of student major works and other assessments. It’s another spoke in the wheel along with daily writing practice which will help students with their extended responses. Most importantly it’s providing a focal point for students with a real audience to help sharpen focus and a good application of the design thinking process. It also consolidates our approach to making the HSC about more than just the ATAR and more about general capabilities and enterprise skills.


Meredith Melville-Jones