How we started

It has taken us a couple of years to see the need for life skills education, and design a set of courses in response.

Here is what we noticed : Our school Personal Social Health Education provision is not really adequate, (Lord Layard explains what is being done) and the typical university careers office is thinking increasingly about the generalised ‘skills base’ that students need to acquire before leaving their specialist courses.

At the same time, there is a huge surge of research about mindfulness, (but almost always associated with mental health issues)

In the mean time, talking about life skills without some awareness of how the world works would not make sense, because there is a savings deficit of enormous proportions; yet, post 2008, there is a pervasive lack of trust of financial institutions post-crisis.The traditional providers it seems, are no longer trusted by the public – according to Which? a UK consumer magazine.

Looking at schools we noticed the need for parent engagement – more recently, there has been the beginning of schools taking on added responsibilities for noticing whether particular pupils are perhaps more vulnerable to radicalisation.

In the mean time, we have seen more and more cases of bullying using social media.  

We started by saying that all of this needs to be addressed, and preferably together, so that we can look at a set of skills we now need to move forward into this economy with optimism and confidence.  

Surely, we thought, someone is doing something about all of this – but here, we came across the new phenomenon of ‘granular’ information.  Nothing is presented as a connected whole – the value added, we realise, is in the links we make.

Should we be looking at the work of Action for Happiness ?  We liked the idea and the science behind what they are saying, but we saw that without some straightforward basic knowledge and core skills education behind it, and the capacity for self efficacy, it may not have traction in real lives.

We also think that using the arts to make a point makes the point stick more effectively. We only remember stories – so stories are our vehicles of choice. Wherever possible we demonstrate our points with stories.

Joining these ideas together, a set of four courses were born.  We were encouraged by Gillev Ltd (who provided all the infrastructure and time out of paid work), The Wallace Fund and the RICS who gave us an initial grant to help us along the way.  

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