Education secretary Damian Hinds gave his first big speech at the Education World Forum in January, about the vital importance of learning from other countries and ensuring young people are able to thrive in a global economy. He also spoke of the benefits that come from sharing Britain’s educational excellence and know-how with the rest of the world.
But he made it clear that he doesn’t believe education is all about exams and
A grades. ‘There is much outside the relevant qualifications which matters a great deal as well,’ he said. ‘That you believe that you can achieve, that you can stick with the task at hand and that you understand the length there is between the effort you make now and the reward that may come in future, and the resilience to bounce back from the knocks that inevitably life brings.’
Can you teach ‘grit’? It’s something discussed in previous issues of Spectator Schools, and some schools — such as St Edward’s in Oxford — are having a go. It runs an induction programme for new-entry 13-year-olds specifically to discuss ‘grit’ and to help the students work out their emotional response to ‘getting stuck’ so they can discover how best to get through it.
What do the students learn? One graduate of the course says: ‘That you can be who you want even if you are not the brightest child, as long as you have grit.’
The QS world ranking of universities by subject, released last month, shows British higher education is still a global leader. In ten subjects, including anatomy and physiology, geography, archaeology and English, UK universities came top in the tables (including Cambridge, below), and in some of those subjects, they filled the top three slots. It’s good news for those who are worried that Brexit could damage the international standings of the country’s universities.