The Blog

Defining the Recipe for Educational Success

'I'm never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I'm never going to say I can't do it. I'm never going to say "maybe". I'm never going to say "I don't think I can". I can....and I will.'

As I am sure many of you will be aware from the flurry of media coverage it received, this is what Nadiya Hussain said following her triumph in this year's Great British Bake Off.

I imagine these inspirational words have been shared with children many times during dinner table conversations. They may also have made their way into classrooms across the country since the TV competition reached its ultimate conclusion.

Popular shows like this often give parents and teachers a great opportunity to talk to children about how important both success and failure can be in shaping our journey towards achieving our goals in life. Could schools be doing more to emphasise some of the non-academic traits children need to develop in order to reach their full potential?

Should failure be an option?

One of the interesting things about the Bake Off for me was that Nadiya's victory was by no means a foregone conclusion. For those of you who may not have followed the programme, she came into the competition with a noticeable lack of belief in her ability to get through each stage.

Despite a rollercoaster of ups and downs - who could forget the disaster of the de-constructed vol au vents? - she continued to invest her time and effort in gaining the knowledge she needed to keep on improving. She kept trying new recipes at home and her determination to find out what she had to do to get a better result continually drove her on.

This got me thinking about a blog I read recently, in which Jill Berry talked about the concept that character and thinking skills are just as important as knowledge and understanding when it comes to a good education. As the Bake Off underlines, there are many different strands of our characters that can contribute to our achievement of success - be it in the kitchen, classroom or corporate board room.

The traditional role of a teacher is to impart knowledge and encourage understanding in our children. But increasingly, schools and parents need to work together to understand children's strengths and weaknesses. They can then provide the right support to help develop or enhance the character traits children need to succeed, as well as supporting them in moving on when they fail, whether this is in their academic studies, in the arts or on the sports field.

The pursuit of educational excellence

It is clear to anyone who has read or listened to any interviews Nadiya has given in the days and weeks following the Bake Off final that the support of friends and family was the bedrock of her achievement. She has suggested that it was this that enabled her to succeed - and indeed, fail - throughout the competition and continue learning from her mistakes.

In my opinion, Nadiya was a winner in more ways than one. The journey she embarked on when she took on the challenge of the Bake Off has not only resulted in a shiny trophy, she has also come away with some important skills that will help her to continue achieving throughout her life. Isn't this the kind of experience all children could benefit from having more of?