Edge

Edge

November 16, 2009 03:00 ET

Britain's Late Bloomers

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 16, 2009) - Brits don't discover they've got talent until they reach 22 years old on average(i), according to independent education foundation Edge.

Research shows that less than a third (31 per cent) of students find what they are good at in the classroom. Instead they discover their career talent through their first job (26 per cent), later in their career (25 per cent), through work experience (18 per cent), or a hobby (15 per cent).

The Britons who find their forte later in life join a roll call of famous names who did well after being labelled as an underachiever at school including Stephen Fry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Damien Hirst, Sir Philip Green and Ben Fogle.

According to the research nearly half of all adults (46 per cent) felt they were regarded as average or poor students when they were at school. As a result over 2.8 million(ii) of these Britons said they were made to feel like a failure when they were in secondary education.

The findings are released ahead of the landmark documentary film 'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' which reveals a very inconvenient truth about the UK education system.

A number of the students labelled 'poor' or 'average' (15 per cent) said they didn't get the chance to discover their talent because they were written off by teachers. Others said the learning style on offer didn't suit them or that they simply weren't interested in the subjects available to study (30 per cent). Nearly one in five (19 per cent) said they believe they would have flourished if they could have studied more practical and vocational subjects.

People who were regarded as poor students end up hating school (56 per cent), as well as feeling less confident (49 per cent). More than half of this group (53 per cent) said they felt their school gave up on them.

'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' explores whether the current education system provides young people with the opportunity to develop their talents properly. Inspired and guided by Oscar-winning producer Lord Puttnam, 'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' follows the lives of five young people from Swindon and the challenges and experiences they face during their education.

The film highlights how many young people in today's education system are being allowed to 'slip through the cracks', struggling through a school life that, in many ways, hasn't changed significantly since the Victorian era.

Lord Puttnam, said:

"I've always been passionate about education and have long wanted to see a film that explores the potential for transforming teaching and learning in the 21st century. Teachers do an incredibly important job under what are at times very difficult circumstances, but if our schools are to keep pace with the with the needs of a very rapidly changing world, the ways in which many of our young people learn must be transformed, most particularly by harnessing the incredible power of technology.

'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' is intended as a wake-up call. It has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for positive and overdue educational reform."

Andy Powell, Chief Executive of Edge, one of the supporters of the film, said:

"It's demoralising for young people to spend years in an education system which does not value their abilities. Many recover and find success, while others never do. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to realise their talent in school and that there should be many paths to success, it's simply not good enough that young people are falling through the cracks and labelled as a 'poor' or 'average' student because their potential is not being fulfilled through traditional academic teaching.

"Edge is pleased to welcome 'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' as it shines the spotlight on the UK education system and stimulates debate around this issue."

'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' is being premiered in Leicester Square on 17th November. To have your say on the UK education system and to request a copy of the film visit www.wearethepeoplemovie.com

Edge is campaigning for young people to receive an education rich with practical and vocational learning opportunities. To get involved and to help revolutionise the education system please visit www.edge.co.uk


Celebrity Post School Successes 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Celebrity            School history

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Alan Johnson         Johnson was orphaned at the age of 12 and effectively  
                     raised by his older sister. After passing the 11 plus 
                     exam, he attended Sloane Grammar School, and left at 
                     the age of 15. He stacked shelves at Tesco before 
                     becoming a postman at 18. 

                     Source: Wikipedia

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Ben Fogle            Fogle is quoted as saying:

                    "I never expected that I'd do particularly well in my A
                     Levels, just because academically I've never been  
                     particularly strong."

                    "I kind of feared for the worst and I suppose it sort of
                     happened. I sort of got the worst. The first one I 
                     opened was my AS, which was in Art and I got an A and 
                     I was just over the moon, I was so thrilled. And then 
                     came, of course, the big meaty subjects. In no 
                     particular order, I got a C in Politics, I got a D in 
                     Economics, and then in Geography, which is basically my
                     subject, because I travel around the world, I got a big
                     fat N, which to this day I don't even know what it 
                     means.

                     Source: BBC News

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Damien Hirst         Hirst's art teacher "pleaded" for him to be allowed to
                     enter the sixth form where he took two A-levels, 
                     achieving an "E" grade in Art. He was refused admission
                     to Leeds College of Art and Design, when he first 
                     applied, but attended the college after a subsequent 
                     successful application.

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

James Martin         Martin left school with no qualifications and then went
                     onto catering school.

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jamie Oliver         Oliver is dyslexic and didn't excel at school. He left
                     school with no qualifications and then went onto 
                     catering school

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

John Major           Major left school at age 16 in 1959, with three 
                     O-levels: History, English Language, and English 
                     Literature. He later gained three more by 
                     correspondence course, in the British Constitution, 
                     Mathematics and Economics. Shortly after becoming the 
                     Prime Minister, when pressed about his precise 
                     qualifications, he answered "he couldn't remember" 
                     what he had attained.

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jon Snow             Snow has been quoted as saying:

                    "I sat two A'Levels the first time round and failed one
                     and got a C in English. I think it was geography I 
                     failed. I then went to a tech and sat Economics and Law
                     and got a D and an E. I was really chuffed I got any A-
                     levels at all, I was a complete dunderhead." 

                     After physically visiting the university admissions
                     service - of which UCAS is the modern equivalent - 
                     to find out which universities he could go to, Snow 
                     obtained a place studying Law.

                     Source: BBC News

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Paul Merton          Merton failed his eleven plus, and famously received an
                     unclassified grade for Metalwork at CSE 

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sarah Jessica        Parker has been quoted as saying:
 Parker
                    "I failed in school in lots of ways, academically but 
                     also personally, if I could fix those things I would.
                     They do linger and I do recall them and I wish I could 
                     fix them. I think people who expect a lot of themselves
                     want to be able to have everything meet their 
                     expectations and it's just not really a terribly 
                     realistic way of living." 

                     Source: Diva TV

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sir Philip Green     Green went to a Jewish boarding-school, Carmel College 
                     in Oxfordshire, which he left at age 15 to work for a 
                     shoe importer. 

                     After travelling to the US, Europe and The far East, 
                     Green began his first business, importing jeans to sell
                     to London retailers. 

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stephen Fry          Fry was expelled from Uppingham when he was fifteen, 
                     and subsequently from Paston School. At seventeen, 
                     after leaving Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, 
                     he absconded with a credit card stolen from a family 
                     friend and spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison
                     for fraud. Following his release Fry resumed his 
                     education at City College Norwich, promising 
                     administrators that he would study rigorously to sit
                     the Cambridge entrance exams

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Winston Churchill    Churchill generally did poorly in school, for which he
                     was punished. He was forced to study extra English, 
                     rather than Latin and Greek. It took him several goes
                     to get into the military, requiring special tuition
                     from a "crammer" school to do so.

                     Source: Wikipedia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes to editors

Research was carried out by PCP. Total sample size was 2022 18-69 year old adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in October 2009. The survey was carried out online.

(i) The question asked polled people to find out when they found out what they are good at career/job-wise

(ii) According to mid-2008 ONS data there are 41,063,100 people in the UK population between 18-69 years old. 7% of our sample said school made them feel a failure.

7% of 41,063,100 is 2,874,417. When rounded this means that over 2.8 million people in the 18 to 69 age group would class themselves as failures at school.

One in 20 (five per cent) of students said they were labelled as a poor student, and 41% said they were regarded as average students.

About Edge

Edge is an independent education foundation. It is dedicated to raising the stature of practical and vocational learning through inspiring projects and campaigns, so that all young people have the opportunity to achieve their potential, and the UK's future workforce is equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern economy. Edge believes that 'learning by doing' is as important as academic learning, and that there are many paths to success.

About 'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For'

'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' is a full-length feature film on education which was inspired and guided by Oscar-winning producer Lord Puttnam. The film is supported by various organizations including independent education foundation, Edge. The film follows the experiences of five Swindon-based teenagers. What unfolds during the course of the film is a very inconvenient truth about education. It concludes that, while there are 'signs of spring', a transformation of the education system is vital if the UK is to continue to compete effectively in an era of globalization - the world has changed enormously but our education system has not kept pace. We need to recognise that there are many paths to success for young people - and provide the right support and opportunities for them to develop their individual talents.

Contact Information

  • Band & Brown Communications
    Sarah Davidson, Zoe Penn or Andy Wray
    020 7419 6950
    edgeteam@bbpr.com

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