Fabienne Vailes – on a Mission to Change the Face of Education.

Fabienne Vailes  of Flourishing Education, you are doing a lot of inspiring things with regards to education and learning. Please let us know more about you!

“With 24 years experience in education, I am on a mission to change the face of education  – embedding well-being into the curriculum to create an environment where both students and staff flourish and develop the mental agility and resilience to succeed both academically and in the workplace.

Author of The Flourishing Student – Every Tutors’ Guide to Promoting Mental Health, Well-being and Resilience in HE,  I present my ground-breaking Flourishing Student Model, which was also the focus of further research under a Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching Fellowship awarded by the University of Bristol.

I have extensive experience of teaching across all age groups (from nursery to primary, secondary, FE and HE as well as adult learners) including French Language Director at the University of Bristol, specialising in Intercultural Competence and Communication, and Associate of BILT. I therefore have an unusually wide appreciation of the issues facing learner (and teachers) at all levels and a great understanding of pedagogy and what enhances student learning through innovative scholarship.”

What do we need to keep, develop and bin to create learning for 21st century learners?

“The current schooling system focuses on grades and attainment. It tells young people that they need to focus on high stake exams such as GCSEs or A-levels to achieve the holy grail that is university.

We also tend to pigeon hole young people and value more academic students and make those who struggle feel inadequate.

I want to see a system which empowers ALL young people to flourish. Our children are born with innate abilities and capacities, they are curious and the 21st century learner would be an open, curious, flexible life long learner with a passion for learning new things, an intrinsic motivation and all the skills required to flourish.

We all want our young people to be happy and to live a fulfilled life.

In fact that’s the common thread and what all parents I have interviewed for book 3 have told me.

In our current schooling system, we tell our young people that they have to work hard now to be happy when they get the grades, when they get the GCSEs, the A-levels, the degree, etc. 

If we are honest, we adults also do this. I will be happy when I get this or do that…

We are focused mainly on the past or the future and not often on the here and now, the present moment and the only guarantee we have.

Before I went on hols and whilst they were waiting for their degree results one of my Year 4 tutees told me that they were hoping they would get ‘their first’ otherwise the last 4 years of misery would have been for nothing. 😱

It made me sooooo sad! 

I am not saying that qualifications are not useful or necessary for specific careers or that all students are like this particular individual but if studying for something turns out to be ‘a misery’, then I would argue we need to reconsider and do something about it.

What if we approached it differently? What if we said to our children and young people that there is not one way but one’s way. Not a set path but one’s path so that they can lead a fulfilled life.

And that they matter and so does their wellbeing. More than anything else!!

I would also want our children to think about success.

Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”

Success can look very different for one individual compared to another.

That’s because we are all unique individuals with different aims and purposes. 

We are all unique threads which make up the beauty of the tapestry called life…without our thread, the tapestry wouldn’t be as beautiful.

Because of the above, I feel strongly that we should stop suggesting to our young people that there is such a thing as “destination” and that there is a straight path to success through academic success starting with sats, GCSEs, A-levels and a degree and now even a postgraduate qualifications so that we can get a good job, then the house, the car, the partner, the first child, the second child, etc… 

We should stop suggesting that without those high-stake qualifications, one will not be successful.

Yes, depending on our aspirations having a degree is important and required (to become a surgeon, an engineer or a teacher for example).

But success can also be running one’s own plumbing business or becoming a hairdresser, a personal trainer or even deciding to stay at home with one’s children.

It’s not about anybody else’s path but OUR path.

And one path is not better than another.

Success is achieving one’s goals even if it takes several attempts. It’s picking oneself up when we fall down and trying over again, again and again.

Success to me is finding what we enjoy doing so that we can: 

– be a well and flourishing individual who can contribute to one’s community (local and global),

– find one’s financial stability as a result and

– be able to cope with the normal stresses of life.”

This is where you will find Fabienne:


Twitter: @FlourishingHE

Instagram: @Flourishingedu


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