For sports fanatics of a certain age that theme tune will send shivers down the spine. Apologies to those of you who aren’t. But please do read on regardless!

Superstars. Compulsive early evening BBC viewing in the 1970s as sporting giants from different disciplines willingly pitted themselves against one another in a series of all-round challenges, perhaps the most notorious of which was the gruelling ‘gym tests’, comprised of a combination of squat thrusts and ‘dips’ on the parallel bars.

Judo star Brian Jacks was the undisputed master of this compelling televised weekly torture…

In many respects Superstars remains a throwback to another era.

I can’t somehow imagine in today’s world of agents and multi-million pound sporting contracts that footballing icons like then England Captain Kevin Keegan would be allowed to take these sorts of risks…

But in others I think it’s never more relevant as a metaphor for the challenges facing educators today…

Superstars was a celebration of all-round ability, holistic development and not being scared to take on new challenge; of being prepared to be flexible and adapt to new and unfamiliar contexts. Exactly the skills, attitudes and mindset we seek to develop – must develop – in our young people every day.

So, a call for curriculum relevance; a more thematic, skills-based approach to learning that will develop the all-round competencies and confidence to enable young people to thrive in the ‘interconnectedness’ of the modern world. A call also made recently by educational ‘superstar’ Sir Tim Brighouse when he wrote that, ‘The curriculum is not fit for purpose…. By focusing on the essential skills of numeracy and literacy we neglect others equally vital to our youngsters’ futures – such as high-level IT skills, thinking analytically within disciplines, solving inter-disciplinary problems, working in teams, interacting civilly with individuals from different cultural backgrounds and thinking for themselves while acting for others’.

A call for a bold approach to learning if we are to foster a new generation of ‘superstars’ for today… and tomorrow.

About the author

Derek Peaple

Derek Peaple

Headteacher

Derek has been the Headteacher of Park House School since 2003, during which time he has played a leading role in regional, national and international education initiatives. He supported the design of the Values-themed London 2012 Get Set Education programme and was subsequently appointed as the first Chair of the Youth Sport Trust‘s National Headteacher Strategy Group. In 2013 he received the inaugural Sir John Madejski Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Sport and contributed to the House of Commons Education Committee’s Report, School Sport following London 2012: No more political football. Ofsted recently stated that, at Park House, a "values driven ambition for students inspired by the Headteacher drives the school’s effective improvement." The school has also just been identified in the top 100 state schools in the country for continuous improvement in GCSE results. Derek was shortlisted for the 2016 TES National Headteacher of the Year Award.

@PHSNewbury
www.parkhouseschool.org

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