School trials in life skills show 'stunning' results among pupils

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Schools have achieved "stunning improvements" in pupils' behaviour, motivation and results after abandoning traditional lessons in separate subjects in favour of instruction in life skills, a report to be published today claims.

Pupils aged 11 at six comprehensive schools were taught lessons focusing on teamwork, time management and "learning how to learn" rather than on recalling facts, under a three-year experiment run by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). The children were gathered in large groups under teams of teachers and taught five categories of skills - for learning, citizenship, relating to people, managing situations and managing information.

Every school in the study found that pupils who followed the curriculum became more confident, worked better together, were more motivated, better behaved and took more responsibility for themselves.

The RSA said organising lessons around skills for later life had led to "stunning improvements". Butit said the approach meant extra work for teachers because schools still had to meet national curriculum and test requirements.

At St John's School and College in Marlborough, Wiltshire, national test results in maths, English and science were 15 per cent higher for children who took part than for those in a control group. At Philip Morant School and College in Colchester, Essex, truancy rates among GCSE pupils fell, while there was a 90 per cent reduction in suspensions and no expulsions.

Valerie Bayliss, a member of the RSA's education advisory committee, said: "The pilot schools have experienced some stunning improvements in ... motivation and seen real progress by students in developing the competences they will need for life and work."