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  • Writer's pictureBen Mason

Personal Development: skills for life not just for school

Updated: Jun 20

personal development - digital cv

Is the UK education system shifting its focus from academic attainment being the main focus of success and the driving force behind school’s preparation for Ofsted and ISI inspections?

The desire to attend to every young person's needs has always been a challenge for schools and colleges. Many school mantras state that ‘every child matters’ which is right and fair. Although, many schools are running fantastic programmes to develop and support their young people mentally, socially and academically, there is still only one measurable outcome of success for the duration of a young person's time at school, and that is academic attainment.

"We cannot attend to a pupils needs without addressing personal development”

Roary Pownall, Ofsted & GB webinar, 28th June 2022

In secondary schools with a sixth form, we teach young people for seven years. We teach them resilience, ambition, leadership, communication and teamwork amongst others, however, these ‘life skills’ are distilled into a list of academic grades in the majority of cases. We know that these very skills are desirable by industry as major traits in their future workforce. Many employers state that these traits are desirable even at the expense of academic grades. However, the education system continues to be unchanged in its output of how talent is evidenced. Is it all about the grades and all about the league tables? Skills seem to be mentioned more as a ‘nice to have’, if we can fit it in! With this disconnect in supply and demand, how could we ever come to the point where people believe we have a skills shortage?

"Character development for pupils is dependent on their understanding of where and how this can be demonstrated and promoted by SLT”

Roary Pownall, Ofsted & GB webinar, 28th June 2022

Is there change afoot and should there be change? Through the pandemic, we saw education was forced to react to the suspension of exams. We witnessed some questionable responses to being able to quantify and measure a students 5 and 7 years at schools where the summary evidence of their entire time in education was decided by a culmination of grades and teaching staff decisions. I’m sure everyone has an opinion on whether this was the right way to do it. However, it has clearly stimulated some potential room for change. With the Rethinking Assessment group driving change, is there room for more character education or skills based curriculums? Do we need to scrap exams altogether or just find ways to evidence broader skills in our young people. One could argue that exams do a great job of assessing knowledge which is key for certain subjects. However, it is the fact that exams are not the sole way to evidence talent and certainly doesn’t suit all young people. If every child matters, then the forms of assessing talent need to be appropriate, relevant and diverse enough to accommodate each and every young person. In the digital world we live in, surely this should include multimedia evidence for young people. One fantastic example of evidencing skills from my line of work with globalbridge, was a student doing a bricklaying course. He filmed a time-lapse video of himself building a wall and uploaded it onto his learner profile as real time evidence of his skills as a bricklayer. Is this a more effective way to demonstrate the skill? A line I used in my teaching days was ‘I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not seeing it’. If you are saying you can do something, why not show it!

"Personal development must be reflected in a schools culture"

Roary Pownall, Ofsted & GB webinar, 28th June 2022

Following the presentation we hosted with Ofsted, it was fantastic to hear HMI lead for Personal Development, Roary Pownall, discuss the importance of skills, character and the wider need for pupil development, alongside academic development. From schools and colleges we are working with, there is clearly a post-pandemic focus on personal development and the rounded view of a young person's development in education. So how do schools evidence their broader curriculum, the development of skills and experiences in their students in a way that demonstrates wider knowledge, character, skills and achievements? We have a few solutions to this and I would be happy to talk you through them, just drop me an email to book a call.

“Documentation? - We don’t require masses of paperwork”

Roary Pownall, Ofsted & GB webinar, 28th June 2022

Change is upon us and many schools are genuinely addressing the needs of every student and providing recordable evidence which the school can download to support key inspectorate criteria, but also which students can use to evidence their development over time and use as supporting evidence in applications.

We are excited to be developing our downloadable schools Ofsted report which can capture evidence of a school’s Personal Development delivery. As part of the globalbridge platform, this is evidence at an individual student level, whole year groups, or the entire school. Instead of spending time recording all the evidence, schools can now spend time focusing on the student experience and delivering the best bit - education!

"Personal Development MATTERS because pupils MATTER"

Roary Pownall, Ofsted & GB webinar, 28th June 2022

Ben Mason

CEO, globalbridge



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