Barham Primary School welcomed Damian Hinds

Right Honourable Damian Hinds MP, Secretary for State for Education with some pupils from Barham Primary School, Wembley.

Barham Primary school in Wembley today hosted a special Primary Futures event on Thursday 28 February, attended by the Right Honourable Damian Hinds MP, Secretary for State for Education.  Primary Futures, is a programme run by the charity, Education and Employers in partnership with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), that aims to broaden primary aged children’s horizons, raising their aspirations, challenging stereotypes and improve academic attainment.  It does this by encouraging volunteers to visit local primary schools and talk about their roles and to see the relevance of what they are learning to their futures.  The event had been timed to coincide with the lead up to National Careers Week (4 – 8 March) which for the first time will focus on primary working osolely with the Primary Futures programme. The Secretary of State took part in a career chat event with year 5 pupils at the school.  (seen here accepting their aspiration letters and answering questions). Click here to see the photographs from the day.

Damian Hinds with our amazing volunteers

The pupils quizzed him about his job, his ambitions as a child and some of the education policies they feel passionately about.   When asked what he had wished he had tried harder at school at he replied, “I wish I had spent more time learning foreign languages, I really should have tried harder.  As an adult, I have travelled all over the world and it would be so good to be able to speak to the people I meet in these countries in their own language and not expect them to be able to speak English.”

25 volunteers joined Mr Hinds at the event, which also included a ‘What’s my Line’ assembly (Guess the jobs of the volunteers) and another career chat event with the volunteers meeting all of the 120 pupils in year 5.

A volunteer tells some pupils about her job in the speed networking session

Head teacher, Karen Giles (pictured here with Mr Hinds and Nick Chambers) reflected on the morning, “Today’s event has been a milestone because it is a catalyst for change particularly with primary school children.  Their aspirations can go in all sorts of directions and without Primary Futures they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to engage with so many professionals simultaneously.  The event provided so many visual and verbal cues that they will be everything they want to be and everything they don’t know about yet.  This experience has set them up to think divergently about their futures for the first time.”

The Primary Futures programme has been developed over the last five years with representatives from NAHT.  A programme designed with teachers for teachers.  So, the Primary Futures team and the staff at Barham Primary were delighted that Andy Mellor, President of the NAHT travelled down from Blackpool to attend the event.  He commented, “this Primary Futures event today at Barham Primary has been a fantastic experience.

Two volunteers enjoying the ‘What’s My Line’ assembly

Having worked with Education and Employers to design the programme, which was first trialled in Blackpool back in 2014, I am encouraged that the Secretary of State took an interest in today’s event.  It is only by witnessing these events that you can see how it lifts children’s eyes to the horizon of ambition.” Barham Primary was one of just four winners of the ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ from the ‘Drawing the Future’ research project conducted by Education and Employers last year and is an exemplar in connecting primary school children with the world of work.

The ‘Drawing the Future’ research showed that children as young as six have already started to form opinions about what they can or cannot be in the future. The research highlighted that they are influenced by what they see around them, and that gender and socio-economic stereotyping can play a big part in this. So, a chance to meet professionals in a variety of fields is the key to widening their view of the world of work.

For example, 20 times as many boys aim to have a role in the armed forces or firefighting services compared with girls, similarly, over 20 times the number of girls aspired to be involved in the fashion industry compared to boys.  The report found that children’s career aspirations are formed at a young age and influenced overwhelmingly by who they know and who they see – 36% basing their choices on parents and family friends, 45% on TV and social media with just 1% from people doing the job visiting their school.

Barham Primary is one of the top 20% of schools for progress in English and maths nationally despite 79% of pupils having English as a second language.  Children speak over 33 different languages and 99% of their pupils come from minority ethnic groups.   The school’s ethos is to embed excellence across all aspects of school life.  It also understands that because of the many challenges that the young people face, its pupils will have to reach a bit higher than more advantaged peers.  They have identified that a key way of achieving this is to ensure that pupils get to meet a wide variety of adults sharing their career journeys.

Nick Chambers, CEO of the charity explained the rationale, “We were delighted that Barham Primary School was able to welcome the Secretary of State and the 25 volunteers for such an inspiring morning.  Research tells how important it is to connect young people to the world of work but seeing it action captures the excitement demonstrated by these pupils as their eyes are opened to the opportunities that could await them.’