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Nesta egg to boost the development of key skills

The £250,000 Future Ready Fund seeks to better equip young people in the areas of emotional intelligence, collaboration and resilience

Posted by Julian Owen | November 02, 2018 | Law, finance, HR

Nesta, the innovation foundation, has launched a new grant fund to support projects developing social and emotional skills - in particular, interpersonal skills and resilience - in 11 to 18 year-olds. Previous Nesta research, including the Future of Skills report, suggested that these skills will not only be important for future employment in the face of increased automation, but also help tackle other big challenges facing society.

The £250,000 Future Ready Fund will support high-potential interventions promoting these wider skills in secondary-age young people - with £35,000-£50,000 available for five to seven grantees - alongside non-financial support focusing on evaluation.

Individual schools, school networks, social enterprises and charities, or for-profit companies, are being invited to apply.

Nesta says there are some indications that “the UK is waking up to the need to develop social and emotional skills amongst young people”. Ofsted has announced changes to the way schools are inspected, looking beyond exams and league tables.  The Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, said in a July 2018 speech that “you won’t crack social mobility by only focusing on exam results,” and stated the importance of “soft skills”.  

Despite this, provision to develop wider skills and capabilities in the UK is inconsistent. The current debate about how the education system should develop these areas is limited to the periphery, with discussions often not backed by practical action or funding.

We have a responsibility to not just talk about preparing young people for the future, but to take practical action

The Future Ready Fund aims to change this by supporting interventions focused on  non-cognitive skills, as specified in the Education Endowment Fund’s SPECTRUM framework. These include:

 - Emotional intelligence, in particular how to build good relationships and collaborate effectively

 - Social and emotional competence, particularly in relation to collaboration

 - Resilience and coping

 - Perceptions of self (self-confidence and self-efficacy)

 - Motivation, goal orientation and perseverance

Jed Cinnamon, Programme Manager on the education team at Nesta, said: “The development of wider skills and capabilities - alongside academic attainment - is often difficult to prioritise in schools today, especially within the context of funding pressures, high teacher workload and accountability pressures.

"Intentional, well-designed provision to improve such skills in schools is limited, especially for students from a lower income background. That’s why we are looking for pioneering interventions that develop these crucial skills. We have a responsibility to not just talk about preparing young people for the future, but to take practical action. This includes finding cost-effective ways of supporting these skills, and improving our understanding of how best to measure impact."

You can read more about the fund here. Eligible projects are invited to submit a short expression of interest (EOI) by 9am on the 10th December 2018, and can do so here.

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