Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced the launch of new “life skills” workshops to be rolled out across the UK in sixth forms and colleges.
Created by student accommodation provider Unite Students, ‘Leapskills’ lessons are intended to teach Year 12 and 13 students about “what to expect for life after school, whether that’s at university, work or an apprenticeship”. The workshops, described as an “innovative digital interactive masterclass”, are to be provided free to schools starting from September and will include advice on “independent living, managing money and dealing with conflict”.
Following an 18-month trial involving over 1,000 students, feedback reported that 91% of teachers “would recommend” the scheme to a colleague and 96% of students considered themselves “engaged” with the course.
One teacher whose school took part in the trial said that her students often feel “anxious and unsure” about independent living but that the workshops “afforded them the ability to reflect on university life and to consider how they can best prepare for university life in terms of establishing support networks and fostering social relationships”.
The CEO of Unite Students, Richard Smith, stated:
“Every year we welcome over 50,000 students into their new home as they make the leap to university. For many this is one the most important and exciting moments in their lives but it’s also a time of uncertainty. We see first-hand the challenges they experience as they make this important transition. […] That’s why we feel so strongly about creating the Leapskills programme”.
Thanking the Education Secretary for his support, Mr Smith said that “building resilience in our young people is crucial to their experience of university and their life beyond” and confirmed that the workshops would be offered for free to schools nationwide.
Decline in work experience
Recent reports over the increasing decline in the number of students with part-time or weekend jobs have raised concerns that students are not gaining the “resilience and experience” needed for the “daunting” transition into living independently.
The Education Secretary has expressed his belief that young people are “more confident and curious” today than previous generations and that the current climate of being conscious of “mental health considerations” demands that students are adequately prepared for what to expect from adult life before they leave school. Mr Hinds further explains how “education is more than about the academics” and that there should be more emphasis on “preparation for life”.
Reflecting on his own experience as a young person, Hinds revealed that learning to cook for himself was the first “life lesson” he faced as a student. He insisted that “the more independent young people are before leaving home, the more resilient they are likely to be when away at university”.