Summer 2020 Move
In the summer of 2020 we moved the short distance to our fantastic brand new school building. This was the culmination of many years of work. Early in the process, Mr Wood participated in the design brief for the new school and was asked to share our vision for education in the 21st century for the young people of Queensferry and surrounding areas.
We aim to prepare young people for a successful, fulfilling adult life. We identify four areas of life: employment, family, social and community. In order to understand what knowledge they must learn, which skills to develop and attitudes to foster we need to consider what forecasters tell us about life in the 21st century. Three drivers influence our curriculum:
- Uncertainty in careers
- Growth of Information Technology
“The only certainty is uncertainty”, Sandbrook, M. Last century it was common to have one career, and in many cases, one job with the same company. Long years of service were the norm well into the 70s and 80s. However, that’s not how the century finished and the new century started with many people having to change jobs. Forecasters predict that in 21st century living, people may have to change careers often multiple times. For us this means our curriculum must have a broad general element to it and that overspecialisation too early is not in the best interests of young people. A better balance between the traditional academic subjects and more vocational opportunities has to be struck. Emphasis on skills development which helps people to learn in new situations will also be of benefit. Learning to learn is of particular importance –“catch a man a fish and you feed him for a day, show him how to fish and you feed him for life”, Anon.
“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet”, Riley, R. Learning to learn, again in new situations, is vital. For us this means that our teaching must be more heuristic in nature than didactic. There must be opportunities for young people to discover, research and investigate for themselves rather than being ‘spoon-fed’ ideas and principles. Access to information by electronic means must be freely available at any time during lessons in any subject area. The previous practice of having to move to a computer suite or central resource would inhibit learning.
In the top ten skills identified by 100 business employers in the UK, four are concerned with emotional intelligence:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Team work
- Valuing diversity and difference
- Negotiation skills
The idea of a single boffin who retains all information and is a fount of all knowledge would appear to be less useful in 21st century living. In school, we must provide time and space for young people to collaborate and to work collegially, to discuss and debate issues. The role of the teacher will be to facilitate learning and to supervise, within sight, a range of activities at the one time. Indeed, it may be beneficial, at times, to have a team of two or three teachers come together with groups of up to sixty learners to promote co-operative and inter-disciplinary working.
In Queensferry, we subscribe to UNESCO’s four pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to relate to others and learning to be. The first two we perhaps recognise as traditional, albeit with a shift in emphasis from learning a body of knowledge which will date too easily to the skill of learning to learn about new ideas and concepts. The other two pillars relate to working together and understanding more about ourselves and the choices we will make in life.
Allied to the four pillars, we want our young people to be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors as described in the Curriculum for Excellence.
Scottish Futures Trust working with the City of Edinburgh Council and Queensferry High School explored the value of technology by creating a virtual model to assist with familiarisation of our new surroundings.
The virtual model provides a floor by floor and room by room navigation, ensuring everyone is familiar with the new surroundings and will be used with future transition projects. The virtual model is easily accessible via a phone, laptop or tablet device and uses the latest technology in creating a data rich visual model.
The model can be accessed at the following link -