In the first half of this Autumn Term Mrs Kenward (our Head of Careers) and I have been meeting with groups of 5th Year students to talk about post-16 educational options; the qualifications that are open to our youngsters after finishing their GCSEs, the key characteristics of a first rate Sixth Form experience, some psychometric profiling to help guide their completion of a career action plan.
In these lessons we also bring a focus to those skills and personal qualities that all employers look for. We pose such questions as: If you were going to employ someone in a business you owned, what kind of person would you look for? And the students always come up with great lists of attributes that they would expect in someone to whom they would offer a job – a team player, someone who is good at problem solving, committed and hardworking, a good sense of humour, someone who is resourceful. And the list goes on.
I often talk about the fantastic opportunities that exist right here at school which encourage the development of these softer skills. In fact one of the core aims of our teachers is to support every student to find and fully develop his or her talents – whatever they may be. And make no mistake every pupil in this school has gifts and talents that are waiting to be unlocked.
Related to this is the point that teenagers are heavily influenced by their peers – the other young people around them. Scientists have conducted simulated driving tests on children, on adolescents and on adults. One of the key findings is that the behaviour of the teenagers in the driving game changes materially if they know that their peers are watching them. They take risks. The presence of their peers triggers the need to act in a way that they would not if they were on their own.
Risk taking is an essential part of growing up and it’s important that our children are allowed to take risks but in a safe environment. That is part of what Truro School is – a safe place to take risks.
As we start the second half of term, I am encouraging your sons and daughters to try something new, step out of their comfort zone, and to challenge each other to find and develop their talents. The journey from adolescence to adulthood necessarily involves stepping out of safe and familiar territory.
I’m reading an interesting book at the moment by Tony Little who has just retired after 25 years of headship. He has read widely around the subject of the biological development of the teenage brain, a subject where there has been exponential growth in knowledge in recent years. He writes about the fact that one might expect the teenage brain to be growing and progressing all the time. What the science tells us is that there are both progressive and regressive changes in developing teenage brains. Mr Little writes that “in part this process is pre-programmed but it is also intimately related to usage (on the ‘Use it or lose it’ principle).” So, the advice to the teenagers, indeed for all of us is “use it”. By pupils getting involved across all aspects of school life they are stimulating their neural development and setting themselves up for a more remarkable life.
Andrew Gordon-Brown, Truro School Headmaster