How well does the National Curriculum prepare children for life in the real world?

How prepared are school leavers when it comes to finding a job?

How prepared are school leavers when it comes to finding a job?


Today we are featuring and article from one of our contributors, Marie, a cover supervisor from Rotherham, who asks the question; “how well does the National Curriculum prepare children for life in the real world?”

Kids these days are under the impression that education and GCSEs in particular have no value in the world that we live.  I was covering for a Year 10 GCSE English class yesterday, who should have been completing a controlled assessment, towards their final marks.  Instead of knuckling down and doing what they were supposed to, the whole class engaged in a debate about the recent ‘terror attacks’ in London.  While I am not opposed to an informed debate, especially about current affairs and politics, these kids were obviously spouting nothing more than the regurgitated opinions of their parents.  Comments such as ‘kick them all out’ and other more racist observations were made between a minority of the boys in the group.  I took the time to explain to them that any human being has the potential to incite terror and inflict pain; it’s just the majority of us realise that this is not the way to behave.  Once the record had been set straight about Islam and the ‘state’ of the country, we returned to the work that should have been their main focus.  I was then met with complaints that they didn’t need English to get a job.  One boy piping up that his dad didn’t have any qualifications and never struggled to get a job down the pit.

They are so disillusioned by their own parents’ pasts that they think they can float through life and get everything done for them or given to them for free.  The debate floor was yet again opened up by the know-it-all of the class, who informed me that her friend had a job at KFC and she hadn’t left school.  I took the time to explain that in the current economy where more than 2.2 million people who are fit and able to work, are unemployed, then a company has essentially the pick of the crop.  Why would anyone employ someone who has no qualifications above those who have GCSEs, A-Levels and possibly even a degree? Schools should not only be responsible for teaching the curriculum, but take the role of teaching these kids about life.  The message at home is obviously not being conveyed and in some of the areas I work, a vast majority of the families are in receipt of benefits; these kids have nothing to aspire to and no incentive to work hard.
I spent the first fifty minutes of a ninety minute lesson cajoling twenty-three teenagers into doing their work, and then had to circle the room like a vulture, peering over shoulders and breaking up private conversations about ‘guess who’s in prison’ or ‘so-and-so’s mum’ has married some guy with loads of money so doesn’t need to work, to ensure they were doing what was expected of them.
I fear these kids are going to have such a rude awakening when they finally place a foot out of the sheltered world in which they live and not know how to deal with real life.  One of the things that school prepares us for, are the demands of an adult job; the work set in class is not only meant to educate in that particular subject, but prepares each person for what is going to be expected in an office, a hair salon, or mechanics shop: deadlines, quality of work, accuracy are all requirements of any reputable employer.  These teenagers are the future of our country; what future are they going to give?  Where are the potential Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, and Inventors that are going to propel our civilisation into the coming centuries?  This cycle is never ending, starting with their parents, who pass it onto their children, who will no doubt teach their own offspring the same ‘values’.  While essentially the responsibility lies with the parents to educate at home, I believe there should be a failsafe built into the national curriculum by the Government.  An hour a week dedicated to life-lessons; how to pay bills, open a bank account, budget, get a job, all the values that my parents taught my sister and I, and the ones I have passed onto my own children.  Without this, the end of our civilisation is nearer than some of us anticipate.

9 Responses to “How well does the National Curriculum prepare children for life in the real world?”

  1. Joanne Lumley

    The problem is we dont let students fail in school, we provide intervention after intervention, chance after chance. When they go into the real world these are not provided. We are, as an education system, showing them that its okay if you don’t put the effort in somebody will chase you again and again until its okay.
    Until it no longer pays to be on benifits and only to be in work then this will keep happening.
    Who is going to take money away from families with children so they don’t get the basic needs though?
    This is the problem at the root of it all and it always will be…..

  2. Alison Jasper

    I take ur point but it seems something of a counsel of despair to suggest that a lively encounter between an informed adult who engages with the kids’ interests and anxieties has to be set aside for the completion of a routine paper test. If this represents the nature of the reality they have to face ‘out there’ then arguably teachers can all go home and leave the kids to their fates. Routine and boredom have their place of course but challenging lazy or misinformed thinking is spmethimg far more important for both teachers and kids.

  3. Dr Marcel blaise

    It doesn’t! The politicians never take the teachers’ opinion into account,they have been known to scrap ‘white papers’ which cost the rate payers hundred of thousands of pounds.

  4. Amy Box

    I see this so often. I wish I could stop teaching most days and deal with mis-guided opinions about society and I teach 7-9 yr olds. I do quite often feel my lessons going off on a tangent for this very reason! Give teachers more power to decide what the children need to be taught outside of their basic Maths and English and maybe some of the respect and values that society is lacking will make an appearance again.

  5. houseofherby

    As I teacher I do emphasis this exact message to pupils on a regular basis in addition to ensuring the pupils understand the link between my curricular subject and industry/the big world. I think kids now get much more of a reality check through their education than ever before.

  6. Christine

    I too was a cover supervisor at a local school, I often covered lessons for the bottom sets. These groups of students are are often rowdy and come from benefit culture back grounds. One group one morning were particularly unfocused. I sat with them and asked why they were at school. They answered that if they didn’t come to school their Mum n Dad would not get any money???… They explained that their mum n dad were on benefits and if they didn’t go to school they would lose child benefit and all the other monies!!! When I asked what their parents were probably up to now (this was at about 10:30) they said in bed as they were smashed last night! They also felt that their teachers didn’t care about them and that they fobbed them off with supply teachers like me. I was teaching a bottom set year 9 geography lesson. They had not seen their actual teacher for 6 weeks!!!

  7. Vicky

    As the Manager of the newly formed eighteen months ago Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) dept within a community school in Hamble Southampton Hampshire I would like to point out the following.
    I agree that regardless off the Social and economic background of any schools we should be working together with the parents and local community including the business community to ensure we equip the young people of tomorrow. Moreover since the demise of the Connexions service in a vast number of areas including Hampshire and the affects of the changes to the statutory guidance of careers education.
    My point is there are lots of exemplary examples of good practice with schools for raising the aspirations of students including preparing them for working life and focussing on the subject grades they will need.
    My question to the YP regarding I don’t need English would be use a good career guidance software package (some are available FREE) to research jobs you will not find any that do NOT require a minimum level 2 e.g. [A star to C] at GCSE. Even Refuse collectors and MacDonald employees are expected to have minimum level 2 in English and Maths. A good example of FREE web based resource for researching Job Profiles is

  8. Paul

    Couldn’t agree more! As a teacher from Australia, coming to teach in London, I’m amazed at how much this system spoon feeds the kids here. Yet your minister for education insists they be taught to be “young, rigorous, independent learners equipped for the 21st century….” Yeah right. I agree. The perceptions of the students today are merely regurgitated from their misconstrued and ill informed ideologies from their parents, who lets face it, more often than not, don’t place enough emphasis on education to begin with. The sooner your government stop trying to play popularity contests with each other and the media and actually act upon the empirical research from leaders in the field right in their very own backyard the better. UK has some amazing critical educational reform research presented to the government in recent years but has been declined because its not “popular” with the media. Never mind what the kids need. I mean, what would we academics know?

  9. mhairic

    Never mind qualifactions, basic skills such as counting outside of control conditions would help. children and teenagers that come to my work have no mental maths or any idea of money, god help us all when they work or when they need to pay for big stuff. It is like they walk out off school and forget


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