Scientists and poets: Questions and answers on preprofessional education

Scientists and poets: Questions and answers on preprofessional education
What exactly is preprofessional education? How can parents help their children choose a professional specialisation? What new trends are emerging at Moscow schools? This article has the answers.

An increasing number of Moscow schools are transitioning to specialisation. Schools are using a wider range of curricula, adding medical, engineering, cadet and academic programmes to the classical selection of human sciences and maths classes.

Why specialisation?

The main focus is on teaching children skills and knowledge that will be useful in real life. In addition, specialisation through preprofessional education will help to make the learning process more tailored to individual needs, as it will be based on the talents and abilities of each pupil. Students will acquire knowledge that meets their professional interests and plans for the future.

How many schools offer specialisation in Moscow?

The overwhelming majority of them. In 2010, schools with more than three specialisation programmes accounted for about one percent, while in 2016, their share soared to 96 percent.

Federal education standards lay out five specialisation categories: technological, biological and chemical, human sciences, socioeconomic and universal. Moscow, however, is also introducing a specialisation that prepares professionals for the needs of the city. Moscow schools have medical, engineering, cadet and academic (science and technology) classes. The training is organised on the basis of trilateral agreements between schools, universities and prospective employers.

Who decides which specialisation to introduce at schools?

The projects to open engineering, medical, academic and cadet classes are implemented by Moscow’s Education Department of Education. Schools can choose which project they want to join and have to comply with the participation requirements.

How is specialisation curriculum different?

The curriculum provides for both in-depth learning in selected subjects and for practical training at high-tech medical and engineering labs, centres of youth innovation, medical organisations and manufacturing enterprises.

Senior school students can choose a course related to their future profession, such as Latin Medical Terms, Step into Medical Science, Fundamentals of Medical Statistics and Desmurgy in medical classes; Industrial Design, Trash Robot Technology, Laser Technology, Algorithmics and Bionics in engineering classes; Scientific Research Methods, Probability Theory, Modern Selection and Seed Farming and Genetic Engineering in academic classes. The main goal of such education is to form initial professional skills and help children choose their future profession.

What are the advantages of specialisation?

Specialisation in school education is designed to train specialists that are in demand in Moscow. Pupils obtain skills any specialist would need. Students educated at such schools have an advantage, as they have a clear idea of the professions of the future and know how to use modern technologies.

Specialisation also includes study of related subjects. For example, maths lessons teach children ways to solve problems with parametres that would be useful in designing an architectural building and drafting a design on an interactive drafting board in a technology lesson.

In medical labs, pupils might apply their knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics and ICT in order to conduct a lab analysis of preparations using digital equipment. Such an approach helps develop skills that are crucial in modern life and present-day professions.

How can parents help children to make the right choice?

The most important thing is to remember that it is the parents’ task to help their child choose his/her future profession but not to make their choice for them. Therefore, parents are there to keep an eye on their child’s interests and what he/she is good at. Then it is time to look at the job market, find out about various related professions and consider education options.

Tests for identifying professional interests, talents and personal qualities can also be useful. Many of them are available online. A test on professional orientation may also be helpful.

Engineering, medical and cadet classes

Engineering and medical classes allow schoolchildren to attend university labs and gain practice at various companies and manufacturers where they acquire on-site skills and knowledge for their future profession.

The programme “Medical Class in Moscow School” is supervised by the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and over 30 medical organisations. Such classes are available at 81 schools for a total of 4,500 pupils. The classrooms are equipped with digital labs, training equipment, measuring instruments, first aid materials and more. High technologies help children to learn the basics of microbiology, biochemistry, anatomy and medical nanotechnologies.

Future medical workers have access to 90 types of equipment, including blood pressure monitors, spirometres and moisture metres, and training ECG machines. Latin lessons and professional terms in English will also be introduced in medical classes.

Students are taught by both school and university instructors and also practicing physicians. This type of training is aimed at helping children to understand whether they are ready to become doctors. Those who answer yes to this question will find it easier to be admitted to a medical university.

The Engineering Class in Moscow School project involves schools, 17 technical universities, innovation centres and over 100 high-tech enterprises. A total of 148 Moscow schools with over 9,000 pupils have opted to join the project.

In order to take specialisation at schools to a new level, schools are being equipped with modern technologies. These include digital labs, equipment for 3D modelling and studying substance structure, geological surveying tools, nano-technological complexes, atomic-force microscopes, electronic cannons, and architectural design and electronic engineering sets.

Engineering classes teach the basics of nano-technology, nano-chemistry, computer design, geological surveying and map making, industrial optics, development of superconducting materials and more. Lessons are taught by school and university instructors along with specialists from partner companies.

Pupils from technical classes have an advantage when applying for technical universities, as they would have accumulated extra points for their Unified State Exam (USE) by taking part in intellectual olympiad contests, forums and workshops.

Another area is cadet classes, which have been launched at 116 Moscow schools for over 10,000 pupils. The project involves government security agencies and relevant universities.

Cadet classes admit children that have good learning records, are in good physical shape and health and also have an inclination to a military career. Competitiveness is 2.5-15 pupils per place.

In 2017, academic classes were opened for schoolchildren with an academic mindset, offering real scientific research opportunities in partnership with research institutes of the Federal Agency for Scientific Organisations.

Deferred employment contracts

In 2016, a new instrument of professional specialisation was introduced for school students: a deferred employment contract, which makes it easier for high-tech enterprises to look for talented young employees. These school students, in turn, have an opportunity to both choose their future profession and decide which company they go to join upon graduation.