Duke of York's Royal Military School

Monkton Introduces 'Aptitude' Development

Published by Monkton Senior School on Monday 9th of January 2023

At our Senior School, Year 9 students were recently introduced to a new aspect of our curriculum which we are piloting alongside a number of other schools and organisations.

There has been significant debate around the place of 'soft' skill development in education (although we, like Simon Sinek, don't very much like that term - we use 'aptitude' development instead) - mostly that there is not enough emphasis placed on them. Perhaps the most visible comment recently on this issue came from the Times Education Commission report. 

We recognise the problem that is being identified, but we also recognise that in the rich curriculum that we offer our pupils at Monkton these aptitudes are developed in very diverse and extensive ways. As such, the challenge for us is not so much to include them, it's to uncover them. We held a conference last June for 10 schools called 'Making the Implicit Explicit' where we shared the ways in which we could bring this aptitude development out of the shadows and make it more obvious for our pupils. As this happened, we would give them the opportunity for more obvious feedback and, as a result, more obvious progress.

Joe Sidders (Deputy Head Learning) introduced the pilot to the Year 9, explaining that their teachers would flag opportunities for them to gather evidence for two particular aptitudes ('Collaboration and Communication' and 'Creative Thinking and Problem Solving'); each pupil will choose one of these two to focus on, self-assess, and submit evidence for teachers to assess.

The pilot will run until the end of the Lent term, after which we will look at what pupils have submitted and see how this might inform our next steps to establish this as a more embedded part of our curriculum. We'll share our findings with Pearson whom we are working alongside as they look at developing qualifications which reflect a pupil's aptitude development. In addition, we're excited to be hosting a second conference next June in partnership with the Times Education Commission to share ours and other schools' findings so as to inform the wider national debate. We're welcoming Michael Morpurgo, one of the Times Commissioners, who will speak and work with us as we develop these ideas.

If any parents have close links with any state schools which they think might want to join us in this pilot, we'd encourage them to discuss this with those schools and connect them with Joe Sidders (siddersj@monkton.org.uk) as soon as possible. For more details, please read or direct them to his blogpost.

Monkton Introduces 'Aptitude' Development - Photo 1
Grace Education
Hazelwood School