I was both dismayed and delighted to read the story on the BBC website this morning (8 December 2011) which reports that “business leaders are warning that students in the UK are lagging behind in developing an international outlook needed for a globalised economy” and that the British Council survey suggests that “employers are struggling to recruit staff with a ‘global outlook’”.
Dismayed because this is all too familiar stuff. British children reluctant to learn languages post-14, never mind post-16. Sixth Formers rather short-sightedly looking simply at getting into university and teachers restricted by League Table judgements.
However, I think at Haileybury we can allow ourselves a wry smile. The survey comments that young people’s “horizons are not broad enough”, yet here at Haileybury we actually run a Horizons course for all of our Year 9 pupils where we examine current affairs, cultural matters and the art of debating, to name but three components of a carousel programme. The lessons are fun, practical and contemporary; rather like Have I Got News for You, I can’t actually prepare my Current Affairs lesson until the night before.
Not one pupil or parent has asked “shouldn’t they be doing more Maths or English?” Throughout the School Haileyburians benefit from being at a large boarding school. We have pupils from all over the world eager to experience traditional British boarding school life yet their presence, ideals and views enrich the whole community. Haileybury is an IB World School, we actively promote international-mindedness beyond the classic “Food, Flags and Festivals” one sees in some schools. My time visiting United World Colleges around the globe shows me we still have much to learn about preparing pupils with a “global outlook.” For example, at a recent conference I heard how student demand for the latest gadgets is having an enormous detrimental impact on the world’s resources; mobile phones can be acquired for free on monthly contracts yet it is estimated they actually cost £5,000 in “resources”. iPads actually cost close to £50,000 in resources – I rather embarrassingly noted all of this down on my own iPad. Therefore, we still have to consider better ways to educate our pupils about such environmental issues or awareness of emerging economies, but I couldn’t help but feel that where others may falter, Haileyburians will lead the way.
What is your school doing to expand pupils’ global horizons?