Head's blog: The importance of emotional intelligence

I am frequently asked about my own values and principles and how these are translated into my daily interaction with the school community. I feel a deep-rooted responsibility to ensure young people are provided with opportunities to develop a strong moral code, the confidence to be themselves and probably most importantly, perception of how others are feeling.

Many individual qualities can be considered to underpin the capacity to build and develop successful relationships. Family life from a young age will have begun this process and there is little doubt that children enveloped within a supportive home, start school well placed to continue building those all-important skills of communication and team work. 

The recent Bett Show (British Educational Training and Technology Show) highlighted again, the important role schools and in particular, leaders of schools, play in ensuring our pupils are prepared for the world of work they will be entering; a world that doesn’t yet exist doing jobs that we haven’t yet created. Technology will feature large in this world and the show demonstrated how much greater the impact of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics, to name but a few advances, are now playing within everyday life of learning in schools. It shouldn’t be surprising then to hear that we are also embracing VR and other forms of high-tech communication platforms to bring learning to life and our plans for a virtual boardroom are well underway. 

How refreshing it is then to know that the World Economic Forum and other key career research bodies have placed emotional intelligence in their top 10 important skills for 2020 and beyond. Creativity has moved towards the top of the list which retains complex problem solving skills at the top. 

Having been involved in pastoral care throughout my career in education, I have always placed empathy, listening skills and seeing others’ perspectives in my top 10 desirable skills. Daniel Goleman brought the concept of emotional intelligence to the fore in 1995 and it is encouraging to note that whilst some individuals may have more of a propensity towards these underlying attributes, many of the skills associated with emotional intelligence can be learned. 

Schools are particularly well placed to integrate modern concepts and skill sets with well proven qualities that are gained from sport, music and drama activities alongside academic pursuits.  However, set within a genuine holistic, caring, compassionate and supportive community – which any great school should provide – emotional intelligence will always grow.

Mrs Sue Wallace-Woodroffe