Increasingly policy makers and employers recognise the need to equip young people with soft skills such as communication, negotiation, strategic thinking and teamwork. Such areas are underserved in the traditional curriculum and there are few readily available and affordable resources.
To help plug this gap – and as part of its commitment to help build a more economically sustainable, educated, and socially inclusive society - BT has developed Personal Skills Journey teaching aids.
These consist of twelve PDF downloads designed to provide young people aged 14 to 19 with the knowledge and skills they need to help with the transition from learning to the wider world.
The Personal Skills Journey forms part of a range of resources that BT offers free of charge via the BT Learning + Skills programme at www.bt.com/learningandskills.
This is aimed at equipping young people – and the people who teach and care for them – with the skills to get the most out of the world around them.
These educational resources help people become better, more effective communicators, whatever their age. Ranging from videos and workbooks to online activities and games, they are all developed by expert educators and teachers, and tested extensively in and out of the classroom.
“One of the objectives of the Personal Skills Journey, was to help students develop skills based on a better understanding of themselves”, said Libby Hammond, founder of Confident Communicators Ltd and author of the teachers’ guides that accompany the student booklets.
A key ingredient of her work is to enable people to develop what she calls “authentic confidence”, which is confidence based on positive personal traits and natural communication talents such as humour or empathy.
“While there are many practical resources around to help young people develop a variety of skills, there is nothing that helps positively shift their confidence,” said Libby.
The BT Personal Skills Journey materials were used for the first time in a classroom setting at Wallace Hall Academy, a 650-student secondary school in Thornhill, near Dumfries in Scotland.
“I have enjoyed using it,” said learning leader Sharon McLean. “The pupils were willing to participate in the lessons. They enjoyed what we were doing. You could see personal growth within the individuals. For example, one of the boys was using the public speaking knowledge in a role outside of school and you could tell that he was developing his confidence and working on his eye contact.”
For Libby Hammond, a key ingredient in the success of the materials has been the fact that it was motivated by an authentic passion for educational improvement:
“The drive that BT has stems from a genuine concern to bring about positive cultural shift,” she said. “There’s a genuine desire to create a better society for young people, and to improve their personal chances of success. I think this would be a hugely attractive proposition for all schools.”