Youngsters need "light bulb moments" early in their school careers to help them "think big" about their potential and their goals, according to Andreas Schleicher, the director of education and skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
NAHT is supporting a new campaign launched by the Education & Employers charity to build up a UK national network of 100,000 volunteers to give children an insight into the world of work.
The long-term aim is to create 10 million face-to-face interactions between the pupils and volunteers - all potential “light bulb” moments to broaden children’s and young people’s horizons and widen their aspirations.
The I Am #InspiringTheFuture campaign will double the number of professionals signed up with Education and Employers’ existing volunteers from the world of work network. The programme links teachers directly to volunteers via a free, online service, who are then invited into classrooms to share their life stories in special assemblies, talks, speed networking and workshops.
The existing Inspiring the Future service was launched in 2012. It has already signed-up 55,000 volunteers, from first-job apprentices to CEOs, app designers to zoologists with the network linked up to 80% of secondary schools and 20% of primary schools in England.
The bigger network will accelerate the expansion of Primary Futures, the tailored programme for seven to 11-year-olds developed with NAHT. It means millions more primary-age children can benefit from whatever background, whatever jobs their parents or guardians do, and wherever their school is located.
The programme’s long-term aim is to give every primary pupil the opportunity to hear first-hand about jobs and the world of work.
NAHT general secretary, Paul Whiteman said: "The importance of exposure to the world of work at primary age cannot be overstated. The earlier children's aspirations are raised and broadened, the better."
The campaign will sign-up professionals across the country, including specifically targeting:
- regions, towns and communities in England experiencing significant economic, social and environmental disadvantage
- NHS providers as the biggest overall employer in England to support long-term recruitment into the health sector
- independent schools’ alumni and parental networks
- rapidly growing industries including cybersecurity, biotech, renewables, virtual reality and AI.
The expansion will also equip schools to meet tougher Ofsted criteria for careers education and personal development, which came into force from September 2019.
The campaign has also proved successful in inspiring children to think about careers at an early age. Tam, aged nine from Welton Primary School, Somerset said: “The best part of Primary Futures was meeting volunteers, we can go into different rooms and meet other people to learn about their jobs! Meeting them has given me courage to know that I can make lots of things. I have also found out about lots more jobs. It gave me ideas about what I should do next.”
Find out more about the campaign and how your school can get involved here.
First published 16 October 2019