In News, Skills, Skills Projects, Skills Schemes

Here in the North East, we’re leading the way in testing how we can offer inspiring careers guidance to primary school pupils.

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot takes the Government’s Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, originally developed for secondary schools, and adapts them for primaries.

Over two years, 70 pilot schools will test how they can implement and achieve the benchmarks; examining what works, where extra support might be needed and what impact the work has at a pupil and whole-school level.

The project is being led by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, supported by the EY Foundation and the European Social Fund.

Sian Browne, School to Work Lead for the EY Foundation, describes her recent visit to the North East to see some of the work that primary schools are already doing.

“The name ‘career enabling primary pilot’ is a bit of a mouthful, but it is something that I believe will have a massive impact. So, what does it mean? Put simply, it is a new programme designed to help children better understand possible future job opportunities available to them. It seems a long way off, but choices made at primary age can be crucial in shaping their future career.

“Developing this project with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been a passion of mine for almost two years, so the chance to see it in action was a huge thrill.

“Arriving in Newcastle, I spent a couple of days with our fantastic facilitator team. We started off with an inspiring meeting with the teachers who will be leading on delivering the pilot in their schools. Each of them showed impressive commitment, asking lots of questions, bringing loads of ideas and sharing good experiences.

“That was followed by a visit to a primary school taking part in the pilot. I met with a careers leader and headteacher who are already achieving great results with their pupils by introducing careers into their curriculum – so they seemed to already be one step ahead! They also talked to us of their meetings with interesting people from different fields of work, who shared their experiences with the children, including a geophysicist and a female naval surgeon.

“Perhaps my favourite moment was when I saw the pupils setting out their aspirations in their career books, with one young reception pupil saying they wanted to be a “tooth fairy”, a job I certainly did on many occasions!

“Next stop was the global automotive supplier Unipres, who hosted 72 students. Watching the young people try out virtual reality to load trucks and donning their special protective gear provided a glimpse of the future and was so uplifting. The apprentices spent time with each of them and were terrific role models. I’m certain some of those pupils now have their eye on an engineering apprenticeship when they get older.

“After so much time in the planning it was brilliant to see the early impact on all the children I met. We are so looking forward to working with them and their teachers over the next two years as they continue along the journey of improving careers enabling experiences.”

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