Do you remember the National Record of Achievement? It was rolled out by the Department of Education in 1993 until the early 2000s as a portfolio where pupil’s could present their academic and non-academic achievements. The idea was that it allowed pupils to showcase their skills and abilities and it provided a “nationally recognised format for individuals to set our their skills, experience and achievements.” (Report summary: Employers’ Use of the National Record of Achievement) However, the National Record of Achievement programme was wound down in the late 90s. Although it had aimed to “recognise and value individuals’ learning and helped them plan and manage their own development”, it was used by relatively few employers as often applicants didn’t bring them, employers lacked knowledge about them or companies preferred to use in-house application forms.
Although the National approach was perhaps a step too far, the loss of the NRA meant schools risked no longer having a programme where pupils reflected on their achievements and skills and planned for their futures. Since the NRA, technology has also rapidly developed with the introduction of platforms liked LinkedIn and Facebook. We might think that an online portfolio is the way forward in this new digital age and for many young adults it is. However, there is still something special, as a pupil, about being presented with something tangible, holding something you feel proud of and safely storing your commendations away until the time when you want to remind yourself or show someone else. However, with the digital future in mind, we trialled a couple of online portfolio methods with our pupils, but discovered that Wi-Fi speed, computer availability and account access slowed up the process and in some cases made it completely inaccessible for some. It also made it more difficult for teachers and parents to view the portfolio and provide feedback.
Part of the vision for Kingsbury Green Academy is that we encourage a positive attitude to learning and for our pupils to have pride in their achievements. So we have brought the Record of Achievement (ROA) back! However, our focus is relatively short term. We are not expecting our pupils to be updating them into adulthood, or taking them to their future job interviews, but what we are expecting is for time to be spent each term in Year 7 – 11 where our pupils can file their certificates, reflect on their learning, recognise their skills, consider their future, set themselves achievable goals, and develop their ability to be confident and proud of themselves. In Key Stage 4, they will also house their CVs and pupils will take them along to their mock interviews with employers where we hope to see our students speaking confidently about themselves. They can also be used in parent/carer’(s) meeting where families can see their portfolio and feel proud of their achievement too.
There is a buzz about the ROAs already. We have clarified the KGA Certificates, raising aspirations and motivation and creating healthy competition. If our pupils leave Year 11 with their ROAs full of their greatest moments and feeling proud of themselves then they have served their purpose. If they tuck them under their beds, to be pulled out dusty in the future, then they have still fulfilled their purpose – going back down memory lane, showing your children what you did at school and still being able to talk positively about yourself is a skill that needs developing, nurturing and cultivating not only through primary but also through secondary and this surely can only have a positive impact on your well being and future.
Catherine Young is Careers Leader at Kingsbury Green Academy and WIN Higher Education Adviser for North Wiltshire. She is a Level 6 Qualified Careers Adviser and an ambassador of the Teach First Careers Leader programme.