'What should we be teaching our children?'

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January 20, 2017

Here at Tutorfair we are always looking for ways to help our tutors provide the best support to their tutees. On November 22nd we organised a fantastic panel discussion on the future of education with representatives from Ernst & Young, Unisnotforme, Teach First and our very own Tutorfair!

Inspired by the recent news that Ernst & Young, one of the big four accounting firms, has removed the degree classification from their entry requirements, we asked ourselves 'What should we be teaching our children?'

Chaired by Vermont University Lecturer James Hardy the panel discussed issues around leaving school, what school qualifications really mean and what core values really make an individual successful in the workplace.

In this blog one of our fantastic tutors Lathi O, who attended the event, gives us the low down on the debate and what in her mind were the key points of the evening.

Attending the event were a mix of teachers, tutors, (old and new) as well as university students interested in what the future of education might hold. The room was a buzz, filled with the anxious anticipation of what the night might hold.

James Hardy, our distinguished chairman, started off the event and then each member of panel introduced themselves explaining their current involvement in education. James expertly handled the discussion teasing out even the subtlest points from both the panel and the audience.

Emily Ball, a Teach First Ambassador and English teacher was the first member of the panel to be introduced. She is now Executive Programme Director at Debate Mate. Many of her students are from challenging backgrounds but have successfully gained places at top universities.

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Emily lamented on how for as long as she can remember her parents had the aspiration for her to go to university. For that reason, university was never something that she questioned or even considered other possibilities.

In reality, Emily felt that there was not much value in her Politics degree in the sense of being made, "work ready" but she enjoyed the experience for what it was. Emily commented on the fact that most of her Year 13 students who leave school are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of the outside world, but have parents who shared the same aspirations as hers, and believed that with a degree, the world is your oyster. But in this modern changeable world is this really the case?

Dominic Franiel, the head of Student Recruitment at EY was second on the panel. Dominic spearheaded the project to remove the degree classification from EY’s entry requirements for entry level jobs. Dominic went to university and became an accountant then went on to take up a graduate position at EY. After completing his accounting examinations he moved on to the recruitment division. 

Dominic emphasised EY's commitment to recruiting the best talent and insisted that the degree classification excluded a significant amount of talent therefore leading EY away from their one of their core values. Since the program has been instated in September 2014, 18% of the new recruits have been accepted without the traditional benchmark of 3 B's and/or an upper second.

Employers such as EY feel that there is too much emphasis placed on grades rather what attributes candidates might have to make them successful in a given industry. Attributes such as passion, determination and drive aren't necessarily reflected in students academic achievements. Some academically gifted candidates tend to struggle when it comes to the softer skills that would help them flourish in the work place.

Many of EY's current partners do not, themselves, possess some of the entry requirements that are demanded from the new graduates and they have had fantastic and varied careers. It was noted by everyone in the panel that what has helped them to succeed at work was certain character traits and skill sets that weren't necessarily related in academics.

Next on the Panel was Hattie Wrixon. Having left school at 17 she found it difficult to find help and advice about what to do next. This experience inspired her to found unisnotforme to help other students in a similar position. Though not being opposed to the concept of university Hattie felt that since she wasn't passionate about any particular subject, there was no value in perusing tertiary education.

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Our final panelist, James Rogers, graduated from Cambridge University and became a stockbroker in the City before completing his PGCE at the University of Oxford. James is one of our fantastic tutors here at Tutorfair! He went to the same institution as his parents and grandparents and he thoroughly enjoyed his experience and still keeps in touch with most of the friends he made during his time there.

He encouraged tutors to consider what else they can develop in their individual pupils during sessions apart from the subject content. Education is multifaceted and not linear in nature.  Tutors must be aware, even though there is not much contact time with the student, the nature of the relationship is powerful. A little effort can bring about a tremendous change, as long that there is a progressive focus underpinning the interaction.

An interesting caveat to the discussion is for the need to have an accurate definition of what a tutor is and what role they should play in a student’s life. A tutor a thousand years ago was generally not a teacher, but a person that accompanied the child to and from school and possibly to other activities as well. He would turn the child over to the instructor. This continued from childhood to perhaps puberty or longer.

The tutor was to keep the child from physical or moral harm. (So, too, the old French, tuteur, and Latin, tutor, mean, literally, "a protector or guardian.") However, the duties of a tutor also involved the matter of discipline, and he might be charged with instructing the child in matters of conduct.

With this in mind there is a need for tutors to consider the development of values that help to build good moral fibre such as hard work and determination.

So, 'What should we be teaching our children?'

The resounding conclusion of the discussion was that ultimately teaching and specifically private tutoring should be used to develop the individual student and inculcate core values such as drive, passion, resilience and persistence so that whatever path a student decides to take they have the necessary tools to be a success.


Checkout out more Tutorfair blogs here:

  1. Five Strategies to improve Academic Performance

  2. New Maths 9-1 GCSE


Lathi O is an experienced maths and science tutor with subject levels ranging from 6 plus to A-level. She takes a holistic approach to tuition and has over 6 years tutoring experience.

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Alternatively for more tutors specialising in a range of subjects go to the Tutorfair website.