Focus on Education June 2022

In a statement issued as the Platinum Jubilee celebrations drew to a close, the Queen, said how she had been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship she had seen over during the four-day celebration.

The statement said: “When it comes to how to mark 70 years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first. But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee.

While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family.

I have been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.

I thank you most sincerely for your good wishes and for the part you have all played in these happy celebrations.”

I was saying to some students the other day that I had no idea what the world would look like today when I was their age. That doesn’t mean I’m ancient (even if I may appear so in their eyes!); it’s simply a reflection of the pace of change in my lifetime so far, with technology very much at the heart of that revolution. The same can be said of the Queen but she has adapted to change which has given her longevity and relevance. This was evidenced over the weekend in all shapes and sizes.

‘Back in the day’, it may have been enough to get good grades to be assured of a place at a good university which would in turn lead to a good job. Many of you will know from the demands of your own professions that this is no longer the case and that some of the skills previously required in the workplace will increasingly be replaced by AI.

Many of today’s children will live into the 22nd century, needing to adapt to a world which will continue to evolve in all sorts of ways.

“A typical human being now lives significantly longer than the time between major innovations.  Nowadays young people entering the workforce can expect to see several major changes during their lifetime that will very likely disrupt the continuity of their careers.”

(Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson: ‘Harnessing the Digital Revolution’)

The list of skills and attributes required for success is very different from a few years ago. In schools we must prepare our children for tomorrow’s world, ignoring at our peril the importance of cognitive, creative and people skills.

Top 10 skills in 2020 (Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum):

  1. Complex problem-solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgement and decision-making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

Consider too this diagram:

We shall, of course, continue at HGS to aspire to academic excellence; we want our students to achieve as well as they can, relative to their abilities, keeping all their options open. But, when we talk about a holistic, well-rounded education and all the stuff that goes with it (development of curiosity, independent thought, oracy, creativity, resilience, teamwork, leadership, character, empathy, responsibility), we do so not just because we think it makes our children better people. It’s not an optional extra: we believe with a passion that these are essential ingredients for future success and happiness. As the Queen said: “we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.” Confidence, enthusiasm, kindness and being a force for good are all important ingredients to success and they are attributes that all HGS students should aspire to. Whether one believes in a Monarchy or not or indeed whether one enjoys seeing Rod Stewart ruining a classic anthem live on BBC One, a fine example has been set for us all by the Queen over the past 70 years.

Stay well and safe.

Be kind to yourself and others.

Best wishes,

Dr Bird