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Kevin Johnson

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More pennies must start to drop


With growing global market threats, Kevin Johnson tackles the problem of training and equipping teachers with behavioural intelligence to better support Britain's next generation workers and leaders.
Teachers, like business leaders, need empowering to be empowering. In my mind, there is no doubt that we need to equip our teachers to have greater awareness of our pupils – Britain's future workers and leaders.
I believe our kids deserve not only a start, but a headstart. Our world is changing rapidly - and dramatically. Frankly, I'm concerned. I doubt we are equipping the next generation to excel in the highly competitive global market, let alone the UK. 
In my own volunteer work, I see school children get excited by personal development. You can see pennies dropping with every one of them.
Yet in my corporate work where I regularly train some of the biggest companies in the UK, feedback about graduates is not encouraging. I'm generalising, but to all intents and purposes, our kids are entering the world of work severely lacking presentation skills, the ability to make good business decisions or awareness of their behaviour - and how it impacts others' perceptions.
These are all things that an empowering person – or teacher – can pass on to students. Some of this, absolutely, is wisdom we gain as we grow older and join the world of work. But not to have any of these skills is not helping individuals, organisations – or our future economy. How many pupils – or for that matter teachers - would know how to present at an interview in the private sector, demonstrating the value they could add to the organisation?
"Every child has the potential to be great, although it certainly requires knowledge and expertise to identify and nurture their talent."
Don't get me wrong - there are pockets of people who add their expertise and make a difference. But it's all a bit adhoc. As a nation, it is simply not enough. Youth employment is in a dire place and helping them to become employable is not just the right thing for individuals, it's vital for UK plc. With China's economy, for instance, growing by the same size of Greece's entire economy every 130 days, we need to take stock, make plans and be acutely aware of what the UK needs to do to protect and advance our own fragile state of affairs.
Recently, a £3m funding drive was launched to develop teaching and leadership at schools, helping raise the attainment of the most deprived children – and it is welcome indeed. Minister of State for Schools, the Rt Hon. David Laws MP launched the drive and said "The new Achieve Together project shares our own ambitious goal - to close the shameful gap in attainment between children from the richest and the poorest backgrounds. Great teaching can make all the difference to a child's life. With the experience and expertise of those involved, I have no doubt that this project will make a real difference for schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country."
Every child has the potential to be great, although it certainly requires knowledge and expertise to identify and nurture their talent. Teachers often hold the key to the success of tomorrow's generation of entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators, yet they need the skills to inspire and equip children with positive thinking and success tools so they see the connection between their education and future success.
Behavioural intelligence is one area in which many gains could be made. I wonder if many pupils, let alone teachers, have the ability to adapt behaviour based on robust feedback they receive.
We need to help our teachers to have greater awareness of our future workers and leaders. We can't just identify them, we need to equip them. If teachers haven't got this capacity, how on earth can pupils learn what they need to be successful in our changing economy?
Kevin Johnson is CEO of OnTrack International


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