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How to develop future skills students need to set them up for success

Samuel Gipson
Samuel Gipson (16 posts) Head of Secondary View Profile

Schools and parents often ask students to consider what university they want to go to or what job they want to have in 5- or 10-years’ time. What we do not ask them enough is what type of people they want to be.

The future is unfolding at a rapid pace and by the time many of our students are 5 or 10 years out from school, many of the careers they originally considered may no longer exist. According to recent research from Dell Technologies - 85% of the jobs of 2030 do not exist today. While content knowledge will always be important, the currency of success in the future will be skills, particularly inter-personal ones.

The OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 report highlights inter-personal soft skills and approaches to ‘how one learns’ will be far more important than ‘what one knows’. It will be the power to approach life and work with creativity, resilience, perseverance, the ability to handle uncertainty and lateral thinking, among other soft skills, which will be of most importance. It is therefore vital that schools put soft skills and approaches to learning at the forefront of what they do. Not just cold curriculum knowledge.

21st century skills image

While some schools may pay thousands of dollars to purchase externally developed programs that do not fit the context or spend inordinate hours creating their own programs with the aim of teaching these skills in an explicit fashion; Nord Anglia Manila takes a different, real world and successful approach.

Our aim is to embed these skills into the very fabric of our school. To have them at the heart of all that we do and have them be an implicit and intrinsic part of the Nord Anglia Manila 21st Century British curriculum experience.

While we run a range of programmes to achieve this, ensuring that ‘Cross-Phase Collaboration’ is at the center of the Nord Anglia Manila experience is key. In simple terms, this is about finding, forming, and promoting all opportunities for students in different year groups to work, learn and play together.

Anyone who walks through our doors instantly recognizes there is something different about Nord Anglia Manila. A unique feeling. A sense of community that is centered on inclusion, ideas sharing and collaboration. This is not something that happens in a vacuum or by accident.

While this sounds like a simple solution to imparting 21st century learner/soft skills (and it is by no means ‘all’ that we do), it is a vital step and one that does more for student development than anything else.

Female students in classroom

The traditional structure of a school in which students are divided into discrete year groups based on age has been in place for a long time. While not perfect, it does serve some key operational purposes. However, anyone who has spent any time with children knows that they develop at different rates socially, emotionally, and physically. A student in Year 10 maybe twice the size of a Year 7 but lacks some of the maturity, wisdom, or practical knowledge of their younger peer, and vice versa. Keeping students separate only serves to limit their opportunities for personal growth and reinforce age-old hierarchies.

At Nord Anglia Manila, students of all year groups in secondary interact daily in both structured and semi-structured ways. Students across the age range spend significantly more time together than in any other school during morning and afternoon House Times, Create Your Future sessions, and ‘Enrichment Lessons’ (extra-curricular clubs). Additionally, throughout the term students have a myriad of opportunities to work, learn and collaborate in cross-curricular, competitive, and creativity-centered sessions. These times provide leadership opportunities to students of all ages and prompt students of different backgrounds, ages, genders, religions, and socioeconomic statuses to share ideas and challenge one another. This cross-phase interaction breaks down barriers and exposes students to new ways of thinking, learning, and doing.

The results speak for themselves. Our students are not only achieving academically (our IGCSE and A-Level results being some, if not the best in the country, and all Year 13 students have received offers to their first-choice universities), they are confident, creative, and already working to solve the problems of tomorrow.

One of the best examples of this is the upcoming Nord Anglia South-East Asia Regional STEAM Festival that NAIS Manila is leading, in which the climate-crisis is the focus. This will be the first ever STEAM Festival in the history of Nord Anglia Education that will see student leaders play a direct role in the devising and operation of the festival.

When we provide time for students to share, interact and grow together and remove the barriers to doing this (many of which only exist within the framework of schools), our students will develop the skills and approaches to learning that will set them up for success in the future. This is at the heart of the Nord Anglia Manila mission.

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