An international education to develop our global future leaders
- Credit: Archant
How can an international education help students develop the vital skills they need to stand out from a competitive global workforce.
Kristi Sedlacek, IB Career-Related Program, Work Experience & Careers Coordinator at ACS Egham International School, discusses how an international education can help students develop the vital skills needed to thrive in the competitive modern workplace.
In the UK, the University and College Admissions Service, UCAS, received over 592,000 university applications in the 2015/2016 academic year – a two per cent rise on the year before. Although an increased demand for university places is encouraging, it is an indicator of the challenging environment graduates face when applying for their first rung on the career ladder. Graduates need to distinguish themselves from the large number of applicants and an international education can give that vital competitive edge.
Developing an inquisitive mind
ACS Egham International School is the only school in the UK to offer all four International Baccalaureate (IB) courses; Primary Years, Middle Years, Diploma and Careers-Related programmes. At the heart of all IB is an ethos of international mindedness and global citizenship, which is introduced in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and developed across subsequent stages.
From the age of three through to eleven, PYP students are taught the basic principles of social and cultural awareness alongside a strong academic programme. They are actively encouraged to be inquisitive and explore who they are and how the world works. This foundation for learning allows children to develop an awareness of their individual abilities and how their skills can be applied beyond the classroom when working with others.
Questioning, team work and communication skills established by PYP students are used for a final year group project exhibition. Working on a subject of their choice, students produce a presentation for classmates, staff and family members. This helps develop self-awareness through public speaking and active participation in further discussions generated by their projects, key skills needed to thrive and progress in the workplace.
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Applying skills in the workplace
The Middle Years Programme (MYP), for students aged 11 to 16, encourages students to further embrace the core elements of the IB Learner Profile: inquiry, knowledge, thinking, communication, principles, open-minded, caring, risk-taking, balance and reflection. All of these values are supported and taught throughout the eight subject curriculum and by adopting these traits students develop a greater sense of global citizenship.
The MYP provides students with the opportunity to use skills developed in the classroom in a practical way and each year students aged 14 take part in Work Experience Week where they join businesses to learn more about the workplace.
Last year students on work experience placements visited both national and local businesses, including Hilton Hotels, Cisco Systems, Top Print and Age Concern Day Centre. The experience provides valuable lessons on how to engage in the workplace and use organisational and communication skills to work with others in a professional setting.
The IB Careers-Related Programme is also available to those who want to study a curriculum directly tailored to workplace skills. The programme has a three-part framework that allows students to learn about career-related studies, study a minimum of two IB Diploma courses and see how their diploma courses directly correspond to the workplace.
Learning outside the classroom
The recent University Admissions Officers Survey 2015, commissioned jointly by ACS International Schools and the IB, suggested that 57 per cent of officers rated the Diploma as highly effective in developing essential workplace skills – including developing an international mind set, communication and collaboration.
ACS Egham offers students the chance to develop their abilities through local and international ventures, such as the Orbis programme where students spend two weeks on board the charity’s flying eye hospital helping to provide valuable eye care in disadvantaged communities. Whilst as part of the school’s long term partnership with Nepali school, Shree Mahendra, students travel to impoverished areas where they help build vital structures for the community.
Being able to provide opportunities to become part of the local and global community means that students can develop international mindedness, and an awareness of how their actions can affect others immediately – highly valued attributes in the global workplace.
An international education can prepare students to thrive in the world of work. Students, who are inspired to develop a greater sense of global empathy, gain international collaboration skills and who have the ability to communicate with people across the planet, will distinguish themselves from the pack and have the makings of our future leaders.