Deputy Head, Ed Burnett, explains Taunton School’s approach to ‘future proofing education’

The British education system is still predicated on an examination system which is very similar in structure and outcome to the one previous generations endured / enjoyed (take your pick!) i.e. examinations at 16 and 18 which focus on learning large chunks of information which then have to be disseminated under timed conditions. Naturally there have been changes with continuous assessment (BTEC an obvious example) and  coursework elements to both GCSE and A-Level / IB. The question for so many parents is inevitable: is this suitable and is it enough?

The rise of the internet and AI means that learning and acquiring knowledge may be largely irrelevant in a world where we can easily access information. Therefore, should our education system place a higher value on learning how to find and process the infinite knowledge they have their fingertips rather than simply learning, storing and repeating it on a piece of paper? After all our children are growing up in world where their future jobs have not even been invented yet.  As Dave Coplin, the former envisioning officer for Microsoft UK argues: ‘this is a world where wisdom rather than knowledge is the scarce commodity’.

What can schools do to respond and prepare its children? We may agree or disagree with the national examining process but we can do very little to change it so it is incumbent on us to provide other opportunities. One thing is certain, with the right mindset a child can grow in to this world of AI and be excited by the opportunities rather than worried and threatened. It seems inevitable that the correlation between growing use of technology (both in our hands but also in our business processes) and growing mental health problems: it could be seen as a scary and threatening world to grow into. At Taunton School you cannot help but be blown away by the endless variety of ‘things to do’ and this rich environment, underpinned by outstanding pastoral care, is our solution. If children grow up to be curious, selfless, positive and determined then they will continue to find ways to ensure that technology enhances our society, links us together and ensures that future jobs are as a meaningful and exciting as the jobs we have been able to enjoy.

Ed Burnett, Deputy Head