Schools should teach honesty, reliability, teamwork and punctuality

Schools should teach honesty, reliability, teamwork and punctuality to boost young people’s job prospects, said 65% of adults today, Wednesday 7th September) in a Young Enterprise poll.

They said the Government should make it a top priority to put the learning of these ‘employability skills’ in the National Curriculum, according to the survey of more than 2,000 respondents.

The demand for formal teaching of the morals, attitudes and behaviour needed for a successful career at work came 12% ahead of the second most popular option – to focus the curriculum even more narrowly on academic knowledge as the Coalition currently plans to do.

The poll also revealed the free-spirited tycoon Sir Richard Branson was the business figure parents would most like their children to look up to. He was backed by 58% of respondents.

The results come in a new poll released today by the market research firm Opinium. It was commissioned by Young Enterprise, Britain’s largest enterprise education charity, which sends 5,000 business volunteers into classrooms to teach 250,000 young people about the world of work every year. In 2011, some 30,000 pupils ran their own business for a year.

Researchers put eight different suggestions to a balanced and representative cross section of British adults for what schools should be ordered do to prepare Britain’s young people better for the world of work.

Respondents were allowed to tick yes or no to all – or none – of the options. The options were then ranked in order of popularity (see tables below).

Opinium’s insights suggest there is considerable support among parents for exposing young people to a wider curriculum designed to boost employability. At a time when almost one million young people are out of work and many took part in the recent riots, employers argue that the lack of the right ‘attitude’ to work among British youth justifies employing talent from Eastern Europe.

Significantly, the youngest 18-34 year olds in the survey were keenest on a more job-oriented curriculum. Only 39% wanted a purely academic approach to school life, compared to 51% of adults and 67% of over 55’s.

Promoting schemes like Young Enterprise was backed by 41 % of respondents overall.

Asked which successful business figure they would prefer their children to look up to Virgin entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson emerged well in the lead (58%). He outstripped the presenter of BBC TVs ‘The Apprentice,’ Lord Alan Sugar, who scored (36%) and vacuum cleaner tycoon James Dyson (31%).  Model Katie Price came in last (1%). Victoria Beckham, Max Clifford and Louie Walsh all came close on 2%.

Ian Smith, chairman of Young Enterprise, said: ‘’This powerful research by Young Enterprise shows the British public wants a sea-change in the way we teach our children to be responsible citizens and prepare them better for the world of work.

‘The Government has shown it is aware and willing to address the failure of basic learning. No one disputes high standards of maths, English and science are vital. But the current policy is alarmingly narrow. In the wake of the riots the Government must also provide young people with the skills, moral outlook, attitudes and behaviour that young people actually need in their working lives. Young people need employability skills like teamwork, presentation, reliability, honesty, integrity, and punctuality that employers look for. This is why we have launched the Young Enterprise Charter, a petition which has gained major support among businesses for its aim of getting enterprise education firmly established in the statutory curriculum. Young Enterprise will be presenting the results to Parliament in October.’

Q: Which, if any, of the following do you think schools should required to do in order to teach children more about business and the world of work?

Promote employability skills such as teamwork, presentation, reliability, honesty, integrity and punctuality that employers look for. 


65% Promote schemes like Young  Enterprise to give older school children experience of running their own business 41%
Concentrate on core subject knowledge such as English, Maths and Science 


53% Encourage companies to send business volunteers into classrooms to teach students business skills 39%
Make work experience more accessible to children from poorer backgrounds 


50% Put learning about business, and his role in the world, in the statutory school curriculum 34%
Encourage companies to send business volunteers into classrooms to talk to children about the world of work and what to expect 


49% Other (please specify) 3%
Make work experience compulsory in schools 46% None of these/ do not teach about business in schools 5%
*The results do not add up to 100% because respondents were allowed to tick more than one option.


Q: Which, if any, of these successful business people would you want your children to look up to?

Richard Branson 58% David Beckham 9%
Alan Sugar 36% Simon Cowell 7%
James Dyson 31% Martha Lane Fox 3%
Duncan Bannatyne 19% Victoria Beckham 2%
Theo Paphites 14% Max Clifford 2%
Karen Brady 13% Louie Walsh 2%
Sir Philip Green 10% Katie Price 1%
*The results do not add up to 100% because respondents were allowed to tick more than one option.

3 Comments on Schools should teach honesty, reliability, teamwork and punctuality

  1. I have always believed that we should teach
    – how to think
    -how to communicate
    – how to behave
    It is clear that the “basics” need to taught but the emphasis on “knowledge” and “facts” is becoming less relevant in this age of instant information on the interenet etc.
    If our children were taught methodsof thinking, how to manage their “brains” and emotions, how to be opersonally and socially responsible, how to communicate effectivley then I am certain that this would equip them far better (than we ever were!) to integrate into and add value to their (and our) society, would enable teachers to escape the current trend of targets and re-affirm the requirements of schools to create valued and valuable members of society. I think that it would also lend more creedance to the increasing trend that all students seem to be getting “A” and A* results. If everyone is an A, then what is the benefit of “scoring”?
    Any thoughts?

  2. I agree with everything Phil says but I would like to add one important difference ( in my humble opinion)- I would like to see young people given the opportunity to LEARN how to think, communicate and behave by practicing , reviewing and giving and receiving feedback.

    I am on the board of Young Enterprise Lothian and saw this research just ahead of meeting the students who will be participating in the YES Company Programme between now and March 2012. They learn by doing – the guidance and support they get from the adult volunteers during that will help them recognise what they are already skilled and to work on what they could improve/develop.

    After the first training session this week I asked for comments on what they had learned in the 90 minute intense exercises they had been working through and many said that communication is crucial to getting things done…great start!

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