“We have a far more ‘can do’ culture in school. Ofsted were also really impressed with the way in which children could talk about the next stage of their learning and how this fits into future careers.”
- Name: John Snell
- School: Welton Primary
- Role: Headteacher
- Area: Midsomer Norton
Tell us a little bit about your school.
We are an average sized primary school situated to the south west of Bath. Our catchment is ex-mining heritage with manufacturing still the main source of income and employment for our local families. We have an average number of pupils who are eligible for the pupil premium grant. Our school is a happy inclusive place where children and the community enjoy working together. Our approach to career learning is fairly simple – to provide children with the opportunities to broaden their horizons and tap into their interests and skills so that they see relevance and purpose to their time in school.
Why did you decide to get involved with Primary Futures, and when did you sign up?
I was looking for a simple yet effective way to engage with volunteers from the world of work and this has been a real saviour for me! The support from the Primary School Engagement Coordinator has also been useful as she clearly keeps an eye on how many volunteers are responding. It has also opened our eyes to the range of careers that are out there too!
What kinds of activities have you held with Primary Futures?
We have a successful yearly careers event at which a range of volunteers attend. Teachers also have conversations on a daily basis with children to relate their learning in the classroom to the real world. We also make use of our secondary school facilities to host careers events such as tech or science events. Next year we are planning to link up with local schools and host a combined ‘Fantastic Futures’ event which should be exciting!
Please share some of the inspiring volunteers your pupils have met.
There are so many visitors who have been over the years but standout volunteers from careers we hadn’t considered include:
- A nuclear submariner who gave a brilliant demonstration as to how submarines work!
- An expedition leader – we didn’t appreciate that this could be a career!
- A safety critical engineer – we were all fascinated by this – essentially if it goes wrong, people will get hurt or die.
Please share an example of an inspirational moment.
One particular successful moment was the response from a Year 3 girl to our STEM related event. Her family are of Slovakian heritage and was fairly shy in her approach to school and while her English is good, her communication and confidence was low. Following our career event focusing on STEM careers, Tam was so inspired that she went home and told her parents about the visitors to school. They were so inspired that they bought her a pneumatic robot arm kit that she then made at home (while also filming it through a go pro camera!) which she then put together as a film to show in school. When she brought in the completed arm and showed her film (which she edited and added music to) the whole school was astounded! They all gave her a big round of applause and Tam looked ten feet tall! It was a hugely humbling moment and a real indication of the power of events such as these. Tam is now demonstrating real success in her learning, particularly science and technology, and continues to inspire us all with her knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject. She loves developing her own learning and has recently enjoyed working with chemicals in a chemistry kit! Tam is also now a more confident and outgoing young lady with an aspiration to be an astronaut. Incredible!
What kind of impact do you think the activities have had on children participating – both long and short-term?
It has been interesting to me to see that our children and young people actually have, on the whole, good aspirations. What is noticeable however is that they only have a limited ‘knowledge’ of what they might do. This is why the engagement in career related learning and events has been so successful as it has opened our children’s eyes to a large range of careers opportunities that they would not normally have experienced. We ‘theme’ our events so that they focus on a key aspect of careers that link with our school work at the time. For example, in the past we have focused on STEM careers, outdoor careers and local careers. By inviting volunteers in from these worlds of work has allowed our children to really engage and see purpose to their learning at school. In addition, we also have a commitment in our day to day teaching to talk about careers during the school day. In this way, the children are able to relate their learning directly to a profession. This then motivates them to follow their interests and skills.
There is now far more of a real purpose to our teaching and learning. We are now making more connections between the world of work and what children are learning in school and in return, children are talking more about what they want to do. In addition, children are also more confident in talking about their interests and skills. We have a far more ‘can do’ culture in school. Ofsted were also really impressed with the way in which children could talk about the next stage of their learning and how this fits into future careers.
Would you recommend Primary Futures to other schools?
I presented to my local network a couple of years ago and publicised the site/resources. They were really interested in this and I know that since then some have registered and now use the site. My presentation to them highlighted the overarching benefits combined with the ease of use. And it’s free!
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