The problem

Early subject specialism limits career exploration.

The school curriculum is constructed as if the end goal is for everyone to become a single subject expert, as students are forced to gradually narrow down the subjects they study from a young age. 

This early specialism limits career exploration and encourages students to pick subjects based on what they think will get them the best grades or qualifications. This approach risks an education system that is too focused on students thriving in exams, rather than in their careers.

Inevitably students’ results are attached to post-school destinations, and whilst university might not be right for students in terms of their career interests or how they best learn, this is the pathway that holds open the most doors and on which schools are assessed, so it is usually the one young people are directed towards. 

Young people should be able to explore careers based on problems they are passionate about. But this is not an idea supported by the current system. In the modern workforce, the kinds of jobs that are growing in number are often in areas like sustainability, caring for the vulnerable, educational disadvantage, ethical challenges around AI, the need for more green spaces and many other areas that young people care about. Not just the professions or indeed the single discipline subjects that students are being pushed towards.

Our education system rewards excellence in subject specialisms; yet life’s problems and the world of work require interdisciplinary solutions. Problems are interdisciplinary, and so our curriculum should be too.

Ed Fidoe
Chief Executive at LIS

The solution

Embedding an interdisciplinary curriculum into schools that opens multiple pathways for young people’s futures. 

London Interdisciplinary School is a University which opened its doors in September 2021 to a founding cohort of 65 students, offering an undergraduate degree that spans beyond the siloed nature of our current higher education system.

The team has built  a brand-new university that will give students the knowledge and skills needed to address social and global problems in an increasingly interconnected world, and now they want to expand this to KS5 students. 

Their ambition is to roll out an interdisciplinary programme in schools for KS5 students aged 16-18. The programme will centre around three distinct areas: 

  1. Complex problems – Students will explore tangible real-world problems encouraging students’ passion, resilience and understanding about the big problems we face.
  2. Interdisciplinary learning – Students will draw across a wide range of subjects and focus on how we can integrate this material together in thoughtful and responsible ways. 
  3. Careers and future pathways – Students will articulate their knowledge of how problem solving can be used in their learning journey and careers.

Giving young people the chance to practise these skills at school will allow them to become more confident to take on challenges in the workplace and their wider lives, and really maximise the benefits of the education they have had to help them thrive.

This innovative programme will be piloted from early 2023 in 10 schools, before rolling out to 20-30 schools in the autumn where they’ll test, learn and redefine the offer. The team has a long-term vision to ensure that interdisciplinary learning is embedded within the curriculum at all levels and that an interdisciplinary experience is a prerequisite for an outstanding school.

The Big Changers

Ed Fidoe

Chief Executive at LIS

Ed co-founded School 21, an innovative 4-18 school in Stratford, East London, designed for children from all starting points and backgrounds (achieved Outstanding Ofsted in 2014) Ed has advised leaders at Cambridge University, the London School of Economics along with some of the UK’s most exciting schools that are exploring new ways of teaching students. He has also worked with organisations specialised in working directly with disadvantaged students such as Ark Schools and Teach First. Ed holds a BEng in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College London and a degree in Business from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to founding School 21 Ed worked at McKinsey & Co and ran a theatre production company. 

Dr Amelia Peterson

Head of Learning and Teaching at LIS

Amelia is a social scientist with a background in policy and consulting. Amelia studies education reforms and their relationship to social, geographic and labour market inequalities. Amelia is part of the LIS founding faculty and oversees learning and teaching and assessment. Prior to joining LIS, Amelia was an LSE Fellow in Social Policy. She holds a PhD in Education Policy and Programme Evaluation and a master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology, both from Harvard University. During her studies, she was a Harvard Inequality and Social Policy Fellow, as well as a junior visiting scholar in Politics at Nuffield College, Oxford. 

Ella Lee-Reynolds 

School’s Engagement Manager at LIS 

Ella studied Geography at the University of Exeter, before doing her MA in Education and Leadership at University.

College London. After graduating, Ella completed the Teach First Graduate Programme. She taught in an inner-London secondary school for 4 years as Head of Geography. She then moved to New York City where she was Head of Humanities at the British International School.