Brief – Having done the core aims task with so many groups now I have summarised and categorised the responses.
In the core aims workshop, stakeholders will have described their 3 core aims and you may notice that most of these core aims tend to be related to improving the skills of students and staff.
For example, the top six most commonly chosen aims are as follows
- Is able to work collaboratively in a team
- Is a confident, resilient person
- Enjoys learning, un-learning and reflecting
- Contributes positively to all groups in their diverse society
- Is creative and entrepreneurial
- Is aware of bias and can question assumptions / think critically
In practical terms these can be translated as…
- The school will prioritise and actively improve the Team Working Skills of all students and staff
- The school will prioritise and actively improve the Self-Management Skills of all students and staff
- The school will prioritise and actively improve the Reflective Learning Skills of all students and staff
- The school will prioritise and actively improve the Effective Participation of all students and staff
- The school will prioritise and actively improve the Creative Thinking Skills of all students and staff
- The school will prioritise and actively improve the Enquiry Skills of all students and staff
Rearranging the first letters of these aims gives you the word SECRET, hence I have called these the SECRET SKILL SET.
At this stage these six words are just general descriptions. If we really want to place these at the very core of everything we do in our school then we must define them in much more detailed terms. As an analogy think how would it be possible to run national literacy or numeracy programmes if all that you gave schools were the words ‘Literacy Skills’ and ‘Numeracy Skills’. Clearly we need much more detailed descriptions if we are to translate these aims into real-life opportunities for students.
I was certainly not the first to call for clear definitiions of the essential core skills. There have been many attempts to define them. In 2006 I researched all the definitions of these skills I could find, of which there were 54 at the time ranging from the Oxfam Education for Global Citizenship[i] to the Tasmanian essential learnings[ii] and tried to combine them into one framework under the headings of SECRET; namely…
- Self -Managers
- Effective Participators
- Creative Thinkers
- Reflective Learners
- Team Workers
I originally included numeracy (use of number which is often also associated with problem solving) and oracy (written and verbal communication including between languages) which created the words ‘NO SECRET’. I have since separated these out because they are more likely to be defined as competencies that underpin the other six. It is hard for example to imagine an effective team worker and participator in society who is unable to communicate by some effective means with others.
The outcome of all this research is a framework that defines all of these skills in a set of ladders from emerging ability up to professional ability. You can access all these at the following site – Learning by Ladders
The general point here is that it is important to take the next step from having defined your core aims using tool #1 to focus in on the minimum full description of those core aims in a way which can be shared easily and widely with your community.
[i] OXFAM – Education for Global Citizenship http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/gc/files/education_for_global_citizenship_a_guide_for_schools.pdf
[ii] Essential Learnings – a curriculum for the 21st century