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Christ the King Teacher Conference
Sir Anthony Seldon, speaking at a teacher conference at Christ the King Sixth Form in south east London, has stressed that all schools and colleges should focus on the development of the ‘whole person’ rather than simply concentrating on exam performance alone. The Buckingham University vice-chancellor and noted author and educationalist added that government focus on ‘league tables and results’ does not serve young people well.
Sir Anthony emphasised the importance of stretching students in activities beyond the classroom via volunteering, arts, sport, entrepreneurship and adventure. He said he often tells sixth formers that, even if their universities fail to realise or recognise it, every young person should experience at least two of these five types of activities. ‘Every single person must focus on enrichment [activities]’, said Sir Anthony. He added: ‘They might not recognise it in the DfE [Department for Education], but we’re educating the whole person. It’s not just the brains that turn up [at school].’
The best sixth forms, Sir Anthony said, help young people to visualise what being at university is going to be like. ‘The biggest transition in their lives is between sixth form and university’ – far bigger than from primary to secondary, or school to sixth form. He said it was vital that students ‘go into it with their eyes wide open. Those that have been prepared for autonomous learning and self-directed learning will have a much better time at university’, he said.
Sir Anthony said preparation should extend to the practicalities of university life, too. ‘Tell them about health, nutrition, diet. The best sixth forms help with how to cook.’
Pointing to tens of thousands of students nationally who drop out of university after the first year – ‘a significant amount due to mental health issues’– he said many of those who chose to leave their courses had been at colleges and schools ‘where they’ve not been helped to think for themselves’.
He told Christ the King teachers: ‘Well done on great [A-level and BTEC] results this summer. You’ve done extremely well.’ The 3,000-strong Sixth Form is one of the largest providers of 16-18 education in south London and Kent. Its comprehensive, non-selective, intake come from some of the most economically disadvantaged areas in the capital. This year, 86 per cent of Christ the King students are going on to higher education, many to Russell Group institutions.
Rob McAuliffe, Collegiate Principal of Christ the King Sixth Form, said:
‘It was fantastic to hear Sir Anthony stress the importance of many of the lynchpins of the education we provide. We work very hard to prepare our students for the realities of life at university and are committed to educating the “whole student” via a wealth of enrichment activities which stretch our young people beyond the classroom. The opportunities we offer – whether cultural, employment-related, volunteering or meeting inspirational leaders – open up new horizons and help to build students’ ambition and their determination to succeed.’