Flourishing@Wycombe: Power Skills

It is an enormous privilege to have taken up the post of Deputy Head (Pastoral) in January 2024 after a ten-year journey at Wycombe Abbey. I have gone from Housemistress of Junior House to Housemistress of Shelburne and spent the last three years as the Director of Safeguarding and Pupil Welfare. My journey through the School has allowed me to really embrace all that Wycombe Abbey has to offer. I have spent many joyful hours watching fixtures (traditionally in the rain), enjoying the musical and acting talents of the pupils, teaching various year groups, and admiring the wonderful qualities demonstrated by our pupils on a daily basis.

When I took time to reflect upon my journey through Wycombe Abbey, I also considered each of our pupils’ journeys and the skills they pick up along the way. This reflection led me to put together this term’s Flourishing Theme, looking at Power Skills. Power Skills, otherwise known as soft skills, was first used in training courses for the US Army in the early 1970s to refer to interpersonal skills rather than the skills needed for operating machinery or weapons. From the 1980s, businesses and education settings began referring to the phrase, and it reached peak popularity in the 1990s.

I was introduced to the rebranding of soft skills into Power Skills when I was at the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools Conference in Cleveland, USA in June 2023. Rather than the negative connotations that can go alongside the word ‘soft’, indicating that the skills are easy to develop or optional, referring to them as Power Skills have helped organisations, businesses, and education settings to highlight that they are, in fact, some of the skills most closely aligned with potential and success after formal education because of their connection to EQ (Emotional Quotient). When I introduced the pupils to this term’s Flourishing Theme, I highlighted that the School Values and the Academic Qualities all focus on Power Skills and that the development of those skills are just as important within schools as the grades and results they achieve in and out of the classroom. This is something that I will be discussing further with Mrs Jacky Tidbury, Director of Sixth Form, in the Flourishing@Wycombe Podcast which will be recorded later this term.

This week, the Head Girl Team have put together a varied programme of activities and events to celebrate Spirit Week. On Monday, each House took part in The Big Draw, with Houses being given the theme of either a School Value or a Power Skill. Pupils were asked to decorate a canvas with words and images surrounding their theme, which would later go on display within the Houses. It has been lovely to see the pupils engaged in thinking how they can develop their own Power Skills during their time at Wycombe Abbey, and how those skills will serve them well as they leave our school as the leaders of tomorrow.

Mrs Vicky Fawkes
Deputy Head (Pastoral)

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