Young people will rule the world. This isn’t hyperbole, it’s fact – fifty percent of the world’s population is under the age of 30*. Your child or class room student is part of the highest youth population in history and inevitably, it will be their views, their vision that will shape us as we head towards the year 2100. Your child is the architect of their own future.

We constantly read headlines like ‘How can we prepare for kids for jobs that don’t exist yet?’ or ‘Preparing students for jobs that don’t exist‘. Our response? Same as it ever was to quote Talking Heads! Every generation has seen the death of a job type and the creation of a new one. Every generation has experienced job insecurity at some point, the majority of us will have a number of employment experiences – some for a long time, some fleeting – in our working history. What does this have to do with school choice? Everything and nothing.

Our schools have been ‘preparing students for jobs that don’t exist’ for as long as schools have existed. In fact, you’d argue the very purpose of school is to educate and equip us with the ability to learn, to think, to problem solve, to adapt, and as a consequence become the architects of change itself. When you are in the midst of school selection, it can all seem too hard. Every person you talk to seems to have an opinion on the best school, the right decision, the perfect choice. The pressure is on to select the right school so that you set your child up for the future. And yet, we all agree that the future is unknown.

So how do you separate the fact from the fiction, who do you listen to, what information do you trust? Our advice is trust this – a good school is one where education gets to be about education and educators are encouraged to educate. Ignore the up to the minute branding or slick advertising campaigns. Disregard the wellness centres and the STEM facilities. Avert your eyes from the gloss, the glamour and the glitter – talk to the teachers, listen to the students, pay attention to the laughter, the level of excitement about learning, the enthusiasm for walking through the school gates – students and staff!

The future is right in front of us, it’s in your child, it’s the in the school down the road, it’s in our willingness to support schools and teachers through positive conversations about the power of education. The most valuable thing you can give your child is not the fanciest school or the school that is deemed to be the ‘best’ – it’s giving them a positive attitude toward school attendance, encouraging them to believe in their abilities, and reinforcing that school matters. Having the right mindset matters far more than the socio-economic status of your family or the school your child attends**. The future is always the product of what we imagine it can be.

*42% are under the age of 25 according to the World Bank.

** After controlling for all other factors, student mindsets are twice as predictive of students’ PISA scores than even their home environment and demographics according to analysis of the latest PISA data.

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