As technology changes the world by the day, Barnard Castle School is turning to traditional values to ensure its students are future-proof.
The daunting prospect of educating today’s children for tomorrow’s professions has prompted Barnard Castle School to scrutinise its purpose.
“The way the world is becoming, our children are likely to change career four to six times in their lifetimes – and half of those jobs haven’t even been invented yet,” said Tony Jackson, Headmaster of the North-East school.
“When I was young, adults only changed profession between one and three times and tended to compete for jobs on a local or regional basis. This generation is now in a global market place and will also have to compete with artificial intelligence.
“That has made us as teachers take a very close look at what our purpose is because we need to have real clarity of vision on how best to prepare our young people. For me, the starting point is why, not what. Why are we here? To ensure our young people stand out and have all the skills they will need to flourish in their world.”
A Durham University graduate, Mr Jackson worked for the Australian MacQuarie Bank before becoming Barclay Group’s youngest relationship director.
After deciding to follow in his family’s footsteps as a teacher, he trained at Oxford University. Mr Jackson became Headmaster of Barnard Castle School in September after joining as Second Master earlier in the year from Radley College.
“So how do we prepare them for this modern world?” he asks. “It is clear that artificial intelligence is a reality but it will never be able to make a moral judgement, show empathy or develop trust. It won’t be able to build lasting relationships, so it is absolutely key that our students have these skills.
“Academic qualifications will remain important but equally crucial are the soft skills we can help students develop. It is often said that a Barney student lights up the room, which is something we aim to maintain and develop further.
“Our students need to be happy, confident without being arrogant, resilient, tolerant and curious, with a core of humility and the ability to stand out.”
To achieve this, Mr Jackson says a challenging academic programme is supported by a raft of enrichment activities which hone the mind, body and soul.
“Charity work, community interaction, mindfulness, meditation, activities which feed the soul, have all proved massively successful,” he said.
“They also learn etiquette, communications skills, how to make a good impression. We even stage a dinner where they have to interact with strangers.
“We have no idea what the future holds but by embedding these skills in our students they will be decent, honourable and considerate citizens. This will allow them to embrace their lives fully and take a positive lead in fashioning their futures.”