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The importance of “soft skills”

Posted on: 25 Jan 2018 by Headteacher

Since his appointment earlier this month, new Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, has focused on the importance of instilling children with ‘soft skills’ from a young age.

In a speech to delegates at the Education World Forum in London, the former Minister of State for Employment, highlighted the frequency of which he would hear pleas from businesses surrounding the importance of workplace or employability skills. These skills, which may encompass collaboration, communication and problem-solving, for example, are often referred to as ‘soft’ skills.

Adopting a brave stand, Mr Hinds recognised that qualifications and exams were important but ‘not the whole picture when it comes to what you learn and achieve’. 

At Wandsworth Prep, we have always believed that education is not just about exam results and have developed an ethos which ensures the children in our care succeed well beyond leaving us at the age of 11. 

Alongside safeguarding firm foundations and rigour, our Forest School curriculum, married with weight given to encouraging positive approaches to learning, all serve to instil a natural readiness to embrace challenge. 

Children throughout the school take part in weekly Forest School sessions. The possibilities in such sessions are endless, yet the benefits remain the same; children develop self-confidence, learn to work as part of a team, to solve problems and adapt their ideas and to approach challenges in a logical fashion. 

As a growth mindset school, we seek to encourage children to think of learning as a series of challenges and development opportunities; a mind-set which we believe will have great impact on their ability to succeed. The growth mindset theory asserts that, with practice and determination, despite natural aptitudes or inclinations, we can all succeed. Not surprisingly, children with a growth mindset are more likely to tackle a challenge or try something new. In practice, this means that our children are urged to view mistakes as an important part of the learning process, not as failure.

Mr Hinds ended his seminar by emphasising ‘that you believe that you can achieve, that you can stick with the task at hand and that you understand the length there is between the effort you make now and the reward that may come in future and the resilience to bounce back from the knocks that inevitably life brings’, are key indicators of success.

Bridget Saul - Headteacher at Wandsworth Prep School

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