Primary Careers

Primary Careers - The thinking behind it.

Primary Careers - The thinking behind it.

Wednesday 6th March 2019

Yesterday as part of the celebration of National Careers Week, Damian Hinds announced that there were plans afoot to ensure careers learning in all primary schools.

This is something I'm really pleased about. I think there are sound grounds for younger pupils to have their horizons widened. However, there seems to be a widely held misconception about what careers learning is about. This misconception is characterised by long threads of tweets making fun or bemoaning the move. One such thread can be seen above. link to actual tweet

In fact, learning about the wide range of careers available has been part of the primary citizenship curriculum for a long time.

What is careers learning?

It's easier to say what it isn't. It isn't finding out what job you will be doing in the future. Nobody is trying to get 7 year olds to decide what job they want to aim for.

So what does careers learning do?

  • It broadens the young person's awareness of what jobs there are available. A long time ago there was some research that said, if you ask the average 10 year old what job they wanted when they were older it would be one of about 10 jobs, all seen on a daily basis, such as teacher, bus driver etc. Nowadays, there are so many jobs that the majority of people have never heard of. Data mining engineer, driverless car programmer. etc In fact I'm still trying to find out what my son does or a living... He's a ruby on rails architect. If you know please tell me in a way that doesn't make my eyes glaze over.
  • It supports young people develop the skills they need to interact with people outside their normal circle.
  • It supports understanding why they are learning some of the things they are learning. A firefighter explaining that they need to know how to calculate volume of air in their breathing apparatus and how long it will last, goes a long way further than a teacher saying you'll need it for your sats. A recent report by Education and Employers Taskforce showed 65% of head teachers thought that primary pupils struggled to see the point of literacy and numeracy.
  • It supports high aspirations and social mobility, allowing pupils to see that professional jobs are accessible for people like them, especially when the contacts brought into school come from similar backgrounds
  • It challenges the often unconscious stereotyping that young people are subjected to. After all Bob not Barbara is a builder.

There are lots of obstacles
Lack of time,
It's something new and teachers may need training
Most teachers, let alone the public at large don't yet understand what careers learning actually means
The payback will be more motivated and engaged pupils who have aspirations that our generations never even dreamed possible.

Want some research to back that up? Find it here
Link to Damian HInds' announcement here