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Last Updated: Wednesday March 22 2006 17:02 GMT

A world without school

The Festo 'Tron-X" robot mimics the gestures of a fair-goer
Over a third of kids think that by 2020 video conferencing will do away with the need to go to school, according to a report.

Students devise a drama sketch of a futuristic learning environment before considering the advantages and disadvantages of a world without school.

For this lesson, you will need a fairly large, cleared space. The hall is ideal but a classroom will also work.

Learning aims

By the end of the lesson, students should have a deeper understanding of:

  • The way technology shapes the future
  • The importance of developing social skills at school

Could robots be serving up school lunches?

News-based comprehension

Read out this story to the class.

The story and the following questions are available as a printable worksheet.

Ask students:

1. According to a survey of children, who will be serving up school lunch in 2020?

2. What did they say would replace registers?
Eye scans

3. What did more than a third of the students interviewed say about video conferencing?
That it would do away with the need to go to school at all.

4. What do child experts think about the possibility of scrapping school in 15 years' time?
They say school won't be replaced by remote learning because it's a place to interact and develop social skills.

5. What did they say would replace teachers?

6. What did children say would replace bus drivers?
Virtual drivers

Main activity

A world without school

Ask students to imagine a futuristic world without schools. What would it be like?

Brainstorm their thoughts and make a class list of their ideas.

In small groups ask students to develop the idea further by answering these questions:

  • How would you learn?
  • What would you study?
  • Where would you study?
  • Who would help you?
  • How would you communicate with them?
  • When would you learn?

Using their answers, the groups make a "still photo" (also called a freeze frame or tableau) of what future learning would look like. Prompt: You don't have to be human, you could be a piece of technology, for example.

If you have a digital camera, you can take pictures of these to use in the extension activity.

In their "frozen" positions, ask each member of the group in turn to describe what they are doing.

Now ask the groups to develop this human photo into a short sketch.

After practising their sketches, students perform them to the rest of the class.

Extension activity

Download the pictures from the digital camera.

Using a piece of software in which you can manipulate photographs, students duplicate each of the images.

On one image, they use speech and thought bubbles to illustrate the advantages and enjoyable aspects of the way of learning illustrated in the photograph.

For example, they could add a thought bubble to a hologram of a teacher, which reads: " I only teach this one child so they get all my attention and learn quicker than in a class."

On the second, identical, photograph, students illustrate the disadvantages and less enjoyable aspects of the way of learning illustrated in the photograph.

For example, they could add a thought bubble coming from a child saying: "I miss not having anyone to chat about this with."


Ask students:

  • What would you enjoy about learning in the way that your group presented?
  • What would be the advantages?
    Prompts: You might enjoy the freedom of learning when you wanted to and you would be able to learn at your own pace.
  • What would be the disadvantages of learning in the way that your group presented?
  • What would you miss?
    Prompts: You might miss seeing your friends and sharing ideas with others
Ask students: Outside of gaining subject knowledge at school, what else do you learn?

Prompt: Social skills such as how to get on with other people.

Explain to students that employers, colleges and universities value these six Key Skills:

  • Communication
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Information technology
  • Application of number
Ask students: Which of these Key Skills would you miss out on if you didn't go to school?

See Teachers' background below for more information.

Teachers' background

Key Skills

Key Skills are basic skills that affect everything else you do - they can help you achieve higher grades and do better at work. Because employers, colleges and universities value Key Skills, they can help you get into the job or course you want. Key Skills widen your job choice now and they'll give you flexibility in job and career moves throughout your life. They're even pretty useful in your personal life!

The six key skills are:

  • Communication
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Information technology
  • Application of number

Communication is about using your speaking, writing, listening and reading skills effectively for different tasks. You should be able to understand information and give a proper spoken or written response.

Examples of communication skills: Summarising information, taking part in a discussion, writing different types of documents, giving a short talk or presentation on a topic, reading and understanding different styles of writing.


Employers want you to use your initiative. They need you to be able to recognise problems and come up with solutions. It's not about doing everything on your own - often it's important to know when to ask for help!

Examples of problem-solving: Identifying problems and coming up with different solutions, planning and testing different options, checking whether solutions have worked, reviewing approaches to tackling problems.

Working with others

Teamwork - working with other people is vital to business success. You should be happy and confident about working with other people. This skill is useful not only at work, but in school and at home too!

Examples of working with others: Working with others, one-to-one and in groups, deciding what you want to achieve, making a plan and working with others to achieve your aims, discussing and agreeing improvements.

Improving leaning and performance

Every time you learn something new - from programming the video to rewiring a plug - you are improving your performance and learning. Because we live in a world where newer, faster and often more complicated ways of doing things arrive all the time, employers value employees who can learn new skills or acquire new knowledge.

Examples of improving learning and performance: Setting goals and targets for improvement, planning how you will achieve your targets, getting support and feedback from others, reviewing your progress, collecting evidence of your achievements.

Information technology

Nearly every business uses computers in the day-to-day running of their office. Employers will expect you to use a computer to source, select, enter and present text, data and images.

Examples of IT skills: Writing a letter, report or presentation, using a spreadsheet to keep track of a budget, using the Internet to find information, creating a company catalogue using a graphics program.

Application of number

You should be able to use your number skills for a variety of tasks. Employers will want you to interpret information involving numbers, carry out calculations, interpret results and present findings. While it is important that you know how to measure and read scales, carry out calculations or draw a diagram, employers will also want you to interpret information from tables, graphs or charts.

Examples of communication skills: Interpreting different sorts of information , carrying out mathematical calculations, interpreting results, presenting and explaining findings.

For more information please visit:

Curriculum relevance

Key Stage 3 PSHE National Curriculum guidelines

1e. Relate job opportunities to their personal qualifications and skills 4g. Consider social and moral dilemmas

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