Isabel Hutton, Careers and Enterprise Company Primary Education Lead reports:
We know from our recent research that children are forming stereotypes at the age of seven. We also know that they are abandoning their aspirational careers between the ages of nine and thirteen.
Quality career-related learning at primary level can significantly address these issues, as well as prepare children for transition and improve their academic outcomes.
At The Careers & Enterprise Company, we’re excited to be embarking on a new journey into the primary space to test and explore this further. And as the new Primary Education Lead, I’ve been touring the country to find the – often invisible – pockets of innovative practice already happening.
I was recently lucky enough to be hosted by Careers Hub Lead, Carrie Holmes, on a visit to Cornwall. Despite the size of Cornwall – which I later learnt can cause huge transport costs for schools getting children to employers – the sense of community in the region is impressive.
The Eden Project, Cornwall EBP and Aspire Academy Trust are united in the common goal of challenging the stereotypes and raising the aspirations of Cornish children.
Critically though, they address this by championing local opportunities in Cornwall’s growing industries: architecture, IT, manufacturing and space engineering to name a few.
Educators in Cornwall recognise that developing the core skills of their young people is just as important as providing opportunities for children to engage with careers providers and employers. And the four educators I met with at Sir James Smith’s School are going one step further by working together.
Through embedding frameworks such as the Skills Builder into a whole school approach and making links with local employers, this impressive group of practitioners are providing the perfect foundation to grow their young pupils into world-ready young adults.
It’s worth mentioning that Sir James Smith’s School is a secondary school. This might seem like an odd place to be having discussions about career-related learning for primary children, but quite the opposite.
Ahead of the curve in many respects, the group I met with are a mix of primary and secondary Headteachers and Career Leaders who are working together to create a consistent approach across all key stages.
On a personal level, I’m passionate about this as an approach and excited to see how it progresses in Cornwall.
Another interesting network I met with was the Cornwall Association of Primary Heads (CAPH). CAPH are champions of excellence for children in Cornwall and enact this through support for school leaders in the region.
The breadth and depth of services that CAPH provide for schools is fantastic and they really drive home the importance of local, community focused networks for removing barriers to educational success.
While all this amazing activity is taking place in Cornwall, the Government’s Careers Strategy rightly highlights that currently there is no consistent approach to career-related learning across primary schools. The strategy also draws out the importance of ensuring that primary schools have access to the right tools to make career-related learning meaningful and impactful.
The Cornish approach of collaboration between providers, educators and support networks is a positive step to addressing these issues.
As a result, I hope I’ll be able to meet with some young people on my next visit to Cornwall, who have developed open-minded views of certain careers and have wide-ranging aspirations as vast as the area in which they live!