Soft skills in Open Future programme

Why did we decide to give so much space to soft skills in our programme? And which of these do we specifically develop in children?

The Education Endowment Foundation has identified the skills that have the greatest impact on children and young people’s learning, personal development and future employability, based on a range of studies, as:

  • Feedback and self-reflection – by these terms we mean information for the pupil and the teacher as to whether the pupil has learnt what he/she should have learnt in relation to the pre-set objectives. This process helps to direct the activities of the learner and the teacher towards an activity that would be as much as possible directed towards the learning process.
  • Metacognition and self-regulation – help learners reflect on their own learning process. Studies have shown that by learning specific strategies for planning, monitoring and evaluating one’s own learning, a pupil can make further progress in learning up to seven school months.

The 2018 Profesia survey showed two important trends for the future of work and graduate skills. They are:

  • Declining need for hard skills
  • Greater emphasis and need for soft skills

Among the soft skills needed, the survey identifies communication skills, flexibility, creativity, presentation skills and teamwork, which have the opportunity to be developed in non-formal experiential learning outside school.

Therefore, soft skills have been given a big place in our programme as they can be of great benefit to our participants.

How do we develop these themes in the Future OTHER with children?

In soft skills, the way of learning is very specific, difficult to measure, and yet it is also the basis for learning anything else.

The main skills we develop include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Self-knowledge, self-reflection
  • Ability to learn
  • Emotional intelligence

Soft skills are developed simultaneously on several levels:

  • As a separate topic – for specific skills such as learning, critical thinking and conflict resolution, there is a dedicated space for their development when they are consciously developed.
  • As a secondary theme, skills such as teamwork, communication and creativity and innovation are developed in our curriculum in conjunction with learning other skills such as digital or entrepreneurial skills. So it is unconscious learning that we reflect on in regular cycles with the children. For example, while learning entrepreneurship, creating their own project, our participants also develop team skills, communication and self-reflection. Another example is programming, where, in addition to algorithmic learning, we also improve our critical thinking.
  • Individual – within the programme we have a personal development programme for the participants, which is taken care of by a coordinator. It includes individual meetings, personal profiles or monthly reflections with participants.

When working with participants, the coordinator responds to their current needs and develops skills in relation to the reality that the children are living. For example, if there are frequent conflicts in the group, the coordinator will set aside several meetings on the topic of communication, giving feedback or directly resolving conflicts.

Learning soft skills is done through non-formal education, i.e. methods and techniques that are natural to the participants, appropriate to their stage of development and easy for them to learn. These techniques are mainly project-based learning, group work, play, and last but not least, experience, which changes the participants’ attitudes towards the topic, which is often a key first step towards skill development.