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Roland Martin - Issue #32


Roland Martin

October 4 · Issue #32 · View online

Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London; Chair - Society of Heads - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

“The future depends on what we do in the present” - Mahatma Gandhi
“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” - Gloria Steinem
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” - James Baldwin

Choose wisely!
The HMC Chair, Mike Buchanan, pointed out in his welcome speech yesterday at the Annual Conference that 82% of students from Independent Schools go on to attain Firsts or Upper Seconds.
In a recent information evening for Year 11 pupils looking at our Sixth Form, I noticed how much emphasis colleagues and I placed on speaking about Universities. Because of the way that the UK education system is structured, the choices that students make when picking GCSE courses - let alone A Levels - can have a serious impact on the direction that their futures might take. Interestingly, I was being shown around a pretty intuitive software package yesterday that helps students with choice of University courses though it is really aimed at Sixth Formers for whom choices may already be narrowed.
Sadly, the British curriculum leads swiftly to a narrow series of options and it is a great shame that recent reforms at A Level did not seize the opportunity to broaden the curriculum at KS5. As it is, children need to project as far forward as they can to consider at least a University course (often, a career) when in reality, the majority of fifteen, sixteen and seventeen year olds don’t, unsurprisingly, know what they want to do as adults. 
Small wonder, then, that young people are becoming increasingly anxious.
UCAS speaks ...
At our inaugural Careers Fair at my previous school, a couple of years ago, we were fortunate to have UCAS CEO, Mary Curnock Cook open proceedings. She gave some helpful advice to pupils embarking on those early university course explorations. She challenged students to think beyond only the traditional University courses that their parents considered in their day and suggested that the wide range of more modern options available to them potentially led to improved career prospects. She is cited here in an article suggesting that Geology at Imperial paves the way with riches, if that’s what you’re seeking …
Geology students at Imperial earn the most when they graduate | Metro News
I see that Ms Cook has been quite outspoken in her comments at the Festival of Higher Education at the University of Buckingham earlier this month, not least over the role that parents should (or shouldn’t) play in advising their children. I won’t share the link here, as I can’t bring myself to send you to my least favourite newspaper, but I’m sure that you can look it up if you are interested! 
Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything that the CEO of UCAS suggested, it is certainly true that we need to empower our children to make the decisions that are right for them, rather than make those decisions for them. 
Flying the flag
British Universities are a market leader. One of the main reasons that international students - or their parents - are so keen on investing in independent education in the UK is the hope that this investment will yield a place at one of the country’s Universities. 
When a former pupil in my boarding house was faced with the fortunate choice of accepting a place at Oxford or at one of three Ivy League Universities, the advice given by the School - from the top down - was to take the place at Oxford. For undergraduate study, the best UK Universities are unbeatable.
Interesting to see last week that concerns are being shared regarding the potentially negative impact that Brexit might have on British Universities.
MPs to assess impact of Brexit on universities - BBC News
Although I should hope that it is a little extreme to predict that our excellent Universities might struggle to ‘remain competitive’ as far as the quality of their provision is concerned, it is concerning to consider issues that may arise post-Brexit regarding funding.
UK ‘must strike special funding deal with EU for universities’ post-Brexit | London Evening Standard
Brexit means Brexit
There are all sorts of considerations, going forward, as Mrs May may or may not invoke article 50. Let’s hope our Higher Education provision isn’t a casualty, for our children’s sakes, so that they can make empowered decisions about their future, and so that we can help them along the way … and maybe, just maybe, encourage them to do more than simply imitate us.
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