Becoming a parent is an exciting time. Our first thoughts as parents are that we want our children to be healthy, fulfilled and happy; ready to enjoy their journey, embracing challenges along the way.
At what point does this change? Parents in the past have informed me that they have decided that Kate (not her real name) is destined for Oxford and will have a career in Medicine. Kate was 3 at the time and struggling with the concept of sharing her tractor.
All parents want the best for their children (and if they don’t, we should be questioning; “why not?”). Sending a child to school should enable the team behind the child; the parents, grandparents, friends, extended family and school staff, to work together to ensure that each individual is supported in the best way possible.
Schools should be about educating the whole child. They should have breadth and balance in the curriculum, value the Arts, enable the gifted, support those with additional needs, encourage independence, promote collaboration, celebrate success, develop individuality, advance academics and advocate teamwork.
The educational environment should be all things to all pupils. Schools should be unashamedly all-encompassing and concerned with developing every aspect.
School life should go beyond the basics of academic rigour and, if that is the single most important focus of a school, I would argue the point is being missed. We should be educating the mind, the body and the spirit. Supporting children to know themselves, recognising their strengths and weaknesses in order that they may continue to grow and develop in all areas. At the end of their time in school our children should emerge as happy, confident and well-rounded young adults; equipped with the examination results to open doors and the skills to ensure the paths that lead from them can be followed.
A good education should be a happy one, filled with positive memories (box-cart racing, productions, recitals, achievement, matches, friendship; not just tutoring and exam prep) and the chance to feel fulfilled, challenged and engaged. If this is achieved then the adults of the future will have been educated beyond the basics and have the transferable skills to cope with the ever-changing workplace.
If you are a parent and you are reading this, do pause for a moment and ask yourself – What do I want for my child?