Educational Insights | Preparing pupils for a life in learning

In this Educational Insights Series, experts from across the Wellington College group give advice, practical help and tips for parents who are keen to give further support for their children’s learning. In this article from the series, Julian Jeffrey from Wellington College in Tianjin discusses about“Good schools know that in preparing their pupils for a life in learning.”

Good schools know that in preparing their students for university, they are not simply getting them ready for the next three or four years of their lives. An all-round education, one in which a young person’s character, self-confidence and values are shaped as effectively as their ability to learn in a classroom, is the product of a good school. – Julian Jeffery, Master at Wellington College International Tianjin

For many institutions, this aspect often remains implicit; here at Wellington, it is a central part of our commitment to our pupils and their parents. Wellingtonians are imbued with our core values of respect, courage, integrity, kindness and responsibility from their first days in school. In addition, our determination to make our graduating pupils ready for the world beyond Wellington means we look to develop in them a clear identity as young people. In this way, we foster in our students the famous ‘Five Is’: Wellington pupils leave us as inspired, intellectual, independent, inclusive, individual, well-equipped to face the challenges of life after school.

I have often written about the importance of preparing children for the next stages of their lives, not simply settling for a short-term focus on admission to university. I want to encourage our students to raise their ambition and become genuinely engaged individuals, ready and able to participate in society for the rest of their lives. I have asked countless business leaders about what qualities they want to see from the young adults they interview, and it comes as no surprise to find that, as well as the core skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, these employers all want confident, problem-solving employees, able to communicate fluently and work collaboratively with others.

A 2013 survey of US businesses found that, “Nearly all those surveyed (93 percent) agree that ‘a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.’ More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.”

These are skills that are hard to acquire, but they make such a difference to the prospects of those entering the workforce, and a core part of a Wellington education is aimed at supporting this development in students. The school offers a values’-based education programme, an emphasis on active, engaged learning in the classroom and a strong commitment to a collaborative approach to problem solving. The role of the teacher thus encompasses both guide and mentor, not simply instructor.

From the Early Years’ experience in the Nest, with its application of the principles of child-initiated learning, to the discursive style of lessons in our A Level classes, teachers at Wellington seek to draw children into their own learning journey; to make them active particpants in the process of growing as lifelong learners. In these ways, children develop:

Resilience

Independence of mind

Collaboration

 Courage to try something new

These are the skills they will need to become successful adults and productive members of society, even in the face of the other uncertainties of the 21st Century.

As the next generation of the global workforce matures, the skills required by employers will increasingly become the defining factor in a person’s success. The fluidity and mobility demanded by new job markets are still not easy to define, such is the speed and extent of change, but one thing is certain: the talents and skills of those in the highest positions of leadership will never have been so crucial in distinguishing between the best and the rest!