Do the rules governing personal development change when we reach 18?

For many years schools have divided staff and pupil development into two distinct areas. For school employees, in most schools, one member of the senior team overseas staff development, supported by a colleague. Together they, hopefully, create a vibrant programme, with tailored sessions to enhance the employees’ development, both in personal and career. Entirely separate is the area of personal development for pupils. Pupil voice, pupil leadership and PSHCEE all fit within this different and distinct programme.

Now that Ofsted has given more prominence to personal development for pupils in its new framework, should we be reviewing this traditional divide?

A greater alignment surely makes a lot of sense.  If there are core principles, values, characteristics or areas that will help us develop as pupils or students when under 18; why should we assume that there are a different set for those over 18?

I understand that there are differences between an employer’s duty to their employees and a school’s obligations to its pupils but why should features of personal development change so dramatically overnight?

My favourite way of categorising personal development, by which I essentially mean individual rather than collective development, which has a whole new set of dimensions, is that promoted by John Maxwell.  Maxwell’s Law of Solid Ground says that any decent relationship has trust at its core and any decent individual can be trusted.  Note that this was one of the key questions in the recent party leader ITV debate.  The three most important components of trust according to Maxwell are: competence, connection and character.  Most of what we want in our teachers and pupils can be naturally grouped under these headings.

Character is about what we are at our core, the values we chose to live by, the identity we adopt which gives us integrity.  Competence is about our ability to perform effectively.  Connection recognises that we are not islands and that our interactions with others make success at school and in life more likely.

So if these three provide a solid foundation for the adults in our schools, why not the pupils?  And wouldn’t that create a beautiful sense of integrity in itself as we all strive to develop together recognising that no one is perfect and so demonstrating the idea that failure is a crucial part of development whatever age you are?

Written by:
Julian Dutnall
CEO, LIFE Education Trust

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