10 November 2021
Education is a lifelong process and we have a huge responsibility to those we teach, not only to help facilitate academic success, but also to help students develop the skills and character needed to face their future lives.
The education we provide must offer challenge and breadth, it must provoke and encourage the ability to respond to disappointment and failure and it should promote collaboration with peers and self-reflection. Teaching and learning are at the heart of what we do, but teaching and learning in the very broadest sense of the words. As Aristotle himself said: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” and we want to prepare our students so that they not only achieve the academic results necessary to be able to open as many doors as they wish, but also the skills needed so that they can go on to thrive and flourish in the workplace.
As a highly academic, selective school, we have a committed group of staff whose role it is to guide, advise and encourage our students as they consider what future career may suit them. Like most schools, we also encourage every student to engage actively with work experience. However, I believe that we do far more than this and our commitment to our careers programme was recently recognised when we were named one of the Finalists for the Student Careers Award in the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2021.
For example, our ‘Insight Into’ programme sees half-termly talks being given to students (both our own students and those from other schools), by a selection of visiting professionals. We are proud to have provided information on a selection of careers; from medicine to the charity and voluntary sector, from law to the creative and performing arts industry, from careers in psychology to those in the fields of Ethics and Sustainability, Finance, Fashion and Veterinary Science – to name but a few!
We also know that every one of our students is individual; they each have specific questions, interests and nuances to their university applications, they may want industry advice or work experience that supports their application. Our ‘Project Pankhurst’ has been developed to suit such needs. The project links our current students with one of over 40 alumnae, all experts in their fields, and who are incredibly eager to connect with our students. The support and individual mentoring they provide our students is priceless. As my Director of Sixth Form notes, about the scheme:
“The girls are often asked what they want to be when they finish university. While a number have a clear idea about the path they want to take, others are still weighing up a world of possibilities and it’s important that the girls understand both of these stages are just fine! The mentoring scheme is there to give our girls a steer and help them make the right choices for them.”
One must also remember, nevertheless, that – even back in 2019 – it was thought that approximately 65% of school age students would go on to have jobs that do not even exist yet. Technology is changing incredibly quickly and we simply cannot anticipate which positions will even exist in ten or twenty years’ time. Therefore, an effective careers programme, alone, is not enough to prepare students for their futures. This is why, at MHSG, we also help students to find their passions and to develop those skills they will need to ensure that they are ready for any workplace, even those that do not – as yet – even exist. Enabling pupils to develop the ability to collaborate, to lead, to think creatively, to problem-solve and, of course, providing opportunities so that students can develop the characteristics of resilience, grit, versatility, flexibility, tenacity and perseverance are equally as important in ensuring that we are really preparing our students for everything that can greet them when they leave our school gates.
Helen Jeys, Headmistress, Manchester High School for Girls