Highams Park

“It has made career advice more of a norm. Students are understanding that they should be thinking about what they want to do when they leave school.”

  • Name: Simone Piggin
  • School: Highams Park
  • Role: Sociology Teacher; Inspire Aspire coordinator (voluntary role); Head of Digital Communications
  • Location: East London

Tell us a little bit about your school. 

It’s a mixed, comprehensive school with a sixth form. We have approximately 1500 students. We offer a lot of enrichment opportunities to students including vocational courses, in school speakers, work experience, work placements and career focused visits.

Why did you decide to get involved with Inspiring the Future, and when did you sign up? 

I signed up to Inspiring the Future as I saw an opportunity for our students to gain real insight into careers which they should feel are open to them. I wanted our students to have the wonderful opportunity to have speakers from various fields come into school to tell them all about their careers, the routes that they took, and to make them, in essence, feel like their futures matter to people in the wider community. We are also a state school and so the opportunity to have volunteers coming and not to have to find the funding for this was also a great incentive.

What kinds of activities have you held with Inspiring the Future?  

A trip to the Bank of America with a group of year 12 and year 10 students. Lisa Jobber NHS nurse from NELFT Trust came in to speak to a group of year 12 Health and Social Care students and Harriet Oliver BBC producer came in to speak to a group of year 12 Media Studies students.

Was there an especially inspiring moment that happened at one of the events?

Harriet made it very clear to students that they are there many paths available to becoming a journalist and that there is there should be nothing to stop them from achieving their vocation should they wish to do so.

What kind of impact do you think the activities have had on students participating?

The opportunities offered by Inspiring the Future enable them to use insight into careers which they may feel are not open to them but also find out the routes they can take to achieve those. It has made career advice more of a norm. Students are understanding that they should be thinking about what they want to do when they leave school. This also involves an understanding that they should be considering careers that are of interest to them; ones that engage them. Inspiring the Future offers them the opportunity to find out more about these roles and specific ways in which they can achieve this.

What has been the best thing about being part of Inspiring the Future?

The wonderful and varied opportunities for students. The ease-of-use is also great. I can search for volunteers from a wide range of industries in the click of a button and I know that the people who get in contact are actually keen to participate. Students feedback is also really positive. They are starting to feel more engaged with wider society (beyond the school community) and are now more aware that these opportunities are and should be available to them.

Would you recommend Inspiring the Future to other schools?

I would definitely recommend Inspiring the Future. The opportunities offered to students so far have been inspirational, enabling them to explore a range of different career options without commitment. The fact that it is a free service is also an added bonus with state schools being afforded a wonderful opportunity for their students to engage with learning outside the formal curriculum and, to have a more equal footing with their private school counterparts in terms of enrichment.


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