University not only option, says Shropshire headteacher
A Shropshire headteacher today claimed youngsters needed a dose of tough love as he said university should no longer be seen as the ultimate path to success – even for the most gifted of pupils.
Tim Firth, of Wrekin College, made his comments as the school opened a new £1 million purpose-built business school.
He said soaring tuition fees and a changing jobs market meant headteachers had to look at alternatives for even the brightest pupils, as he said university was no longer the automatic choice.
Mr Firth said the new facility, which marked the school's biggest single investment in a project showed how committed they were to a new approach to education.
The idea will be to regularly have business leaders use the new school to help teach job place skills in a setting which resembles the corporate world rather than the classroom.
The state-of- the-art facility which was opened by Nick Wheeler who founded Charles Tyrwhitt, a clothing retailer, on Thursday (January 26), features a boardroom, breakout area for collaborations, hot-desking and a lecture theatre.
Mr Firth said the new addition was answering concerns from business leaders that the "snowflake generation" was producing graduates who were just not fit for the workplace having failed to acquire key skills to create resilience and a can-do attitude.
"Young people today live in a very different world to the one we did and the challenges are new but they are such that we as schools need to think even more about how we prepare them for the world outside of the academic arena," he added.
"University is not the only option. It has become a buyers' market and too often it has placed too much unnecessary pressure on youngsters including the most gifted and able academically to suggest there is only one path for them.
"We need to look at how we educate and nurture the whole child.
"Alongside the academic drive and the push for A-stars we need to be looking at how we give children the skills to cope with real life which are necessary even for those who do choose university."
"The business school will see school and the corporate world blended on a daily basis where there will be events for start-ups, those returning to work, CV writing clinics, breakfast meetings for the business community alongside the usual business studies classes.
"It is important to create opportunities for children to experience a taste of real life much sooner than we may have felt the need to do in previous generations to show their skills may lie in all kinds of different areas.
"We are pushing our pupils to aim for their very best and if that is a string of A-stars that is what they will achieve but we also want them to be able to pitch a business idea, to be able to manage other people or a budget so that they will be ready for life outside of school.
"It is a tricky world to navigate but one which has so much promise. We often talk about how we are currently preparing youngsters for jobs that don't even exist yet - well then we should be broadening our horizons in terms of what we teach and how we lead the way.
"We need to go back to putting value on apprenticeships, to creating good entrepreneurs, bosses and employees, key skills for the workplace rather than just great scholars."