Elaine Purves, the Head of Queen Anne’s School, discusses why arming students with an ethos of global citizenship has been front of mind this school year

It has been an extraordinary start to the new school year. For me, it is a joy to experience my first September at Queen Anne’s. The first few days of the month echoed previous returns to school that I have known and loved in other settings – the back-to-school feeling is echoed the world over.

I was mightily relieved to feel how the start of term, although pacy, had at least started at a canter rather than the all-out gallop that I had jumped into back in January when I joined. But then, in the early evening of our first Thursday, we received the sad news of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. From there, our start of term took a very different turn, and we were reminded of how quickly we can be pushed off course.

Q A S Elaine Purves
Elaine Purves, Head of Queen Anne’s, says critical thinking and a positive approach to modern languages are both critical to the modern workplace

As the eyes of the world centred on our very own London and we honoured the life of our Queen, I was struck by the kinship and coming together of communities that has become familiar over these unpredictable few years. It is the sense of global citizenship and hope that allows us to share positivity for the future with our students whilst also arming them with skills for the new world.

I have always been conscious that we live in a fast-paced and ever-evolving world. However, right now, the pace of change is exponential, precipitated in no small part by technological advancement, globalisation, Covid-19 and the climate crisis. As educators working in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we really do have to prepare our students for a world we do not know. We must consider deeply the skills, knowledge and attributes that we wish to develop in our students to enable them to thrive.

“It is this sense of global citizenship and hope that allows us to share positivity for the future with our students whilst also arming them with skills for the new world”

Research by the McKinsey Global Institute has looked at the type of high-level skills that are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. Their findings highlight how individuals will need to continually adapt to new ways of working and new occupations. This adaptable skillset is well known in the International Baccalaureate and, having worked in IB schools and in the UK and Belgium, I am embedding further this sense of deep learning and inquiry into the school’s ethos.

This year at Queen Anne’s, we are championing transdisciplinary projects, breadth of subject choices and an emphasis on volunteering and extra-curricular activities. Coupled with the breadth of our curriculum here and a positive approach to modern languages, we are ensuring the development of critical thinking, mental flexibility, emotional intelligence and digital fluency to help students to find their place as global citizens equipped for the evolving workplace.

Queen Anne’s School qas.org.uk

Further reading: Whitgift on the importance of rebuilding communication