A fundamental part of the school’s mission involves preparing young people to contribute to the world in the ways which are suited to them as individuals, with each of their particular gifts, traits, skills and experiences. Sadia Shafquat, Senior School Leader, describes what this has entailed over the past year at school.
In our work with older pupils, we intend to open up their understanding of further study, training and work as a means to find joy, fulfilment and meaning, and as a way to match and serve the greater purpose of life. Our approach involves supporting young people in their journey to find what they might be best suited for. We do this by allowing them to have a range of experiences and trying out interests with their through their school years, as well as having ongoing dialogue with teachers throughout their school journey - with weekly one-to-one meetings helping teachers to keep abreast of pupils’ interests as these develop, with guidance and supportive action.
We see familiarisation to the adult ‘world of work’ as a developmental need for the teenage years. We aim to put pupils in contact with the idea of ‘vocation’ and of work as ‘contribution’ through day-to-day school life, service at school and within the school community, interacting with visiting speakers, career workbooks, exploring temperament and engaging in discussion, as a regular part of students’ school life. In addition to this, we often hold more formal sessions in careers guidance, informational afternoons and experience opportunities.
Last year, secondary school pupils enjoyed a host of careers talks and informational afternoons which which broadened their understanding and knowledge of some fields of work and also provided opportunities for challenging their thinking. Visitng speakers sharing their life and work with our pupils discussed:
- their path to their particular field; how they came to this work along with their motivations and pursuit of training or study
- What their field of work is like; what it involves, what kind of people it may be suited to, what kind of prior study or training may be - useful
- The joys of their work as well as its challenges
- ‘Days in their life’ or examples of what it looks like when they’re working
- Scenarios of particular interest or anecdotes from their work life
Through the year, speakers’ generosity in sharing their experiences facililated pupils’ insights into:
- work with core government and civil institutions
- work with tech-giants such as Amazon, with probing inquiries into ethics of artificial intelligence and the use of customers’ data
- work in corporate banking, with inquiries into the challenges of working daily with ‘interest’ and the use or value of terms such as ‘Islamic banking’
- Work in pharmacy and the role of the pharmaceutical work in community and beyond, including reflections on the parallel support of this work to that of medicine
Emergency Medicine and Basic Life Support
One of the year’s biggest highlights was also a series of sessions exploring work in Emergency Medicine. In addition to crucial information about getting into careers in medicine and what medical study pathways may involve, these sessions also included a range of thrilling stories and anecdotes specific to work in Emergency Medicine. Pupils heard about the stress and challenge of the work including odd-shifts and long hours; but also heard about the many joys of the work, such as literally having one’s hands on a human heart outside of an surgical theatre. Our speaker especially emphasised his personal motivation in his work, reflecting on the reward of ‘saving a life’ from the Qur’anic injunction that ‘whoever saves one life it is as though he had saved all mankind’.
This series of sessions offered by a parent from the school community generously volunteereing many hours of his time, also led to extended practical workshops which also correlated wonderfully withour our provision health education. Pupils learnt about simple life-saving tips as well as administering basic life-support, including the chance to practice CPR themselves. Wokrshop sessions extending beyond this also explored important issues such as blood donation and organ-donation, allowing pupils to learn the science of these procedures and their value whilst also discussing their evaluation against faith principles.
One of the great joys of the past year’s sessions with our pupils was the way in which the “careers” talks moved beyond simple tick-in-the box exercises and demanded pupils to think well out-of-the-box. Our pupils, being propelled to reflect on their characters, their skills, their work and potential contributions to society as adults , as well as the kind of lives they can live, were drawn into sprawling insights, full of great wisdom gained from life experience, about making one’s way through life and maximising every opportunity to better oneself.
We are immensely grateful to the speakers who so generously shared so much of their personal life-experience and values gained along the way, leaving our pupils with much food for thought, and leaving us teachers with important reminders of constantly striving for better in our own work at school.