In News, Skills

Following a successful pilot programme to improve standards of careers education in all North East secondary schools, the North East LEP is expanding its work to focus on primary pupils, helping to broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, explains more.

We know that even at the young age of three or four, children are already starting to form their first aspirations. By six they are starting to have opinions on what they think they can or can’t do in the future. And by the time they’re 10, young people start to make decisions which could go on to limit their future options.

This is why we are embarking on a programme of work in partnership with North East primary schools to strengthen careers guidance for pupils and help open their eyes to the range of possibilities their futures hold.

Back in 2015, the North East became the first UK region to pilot the implementation of the Gatsby Good Career Benchmarks in our secondary schools. We began by working with 16 schools and colleges before rolling out the programme to the entire region, and now we are expanding this work to encompass our primary schools as well.

The work we will be doing in partnership with schools across the North East will help us to make sure that all children, from primary age upwards, have the best possible guidance to help them understand the exciting opportunities that are open to them as they grow up.

It’s not about children choosing their future jobs at this very young age. It’s about helping our children and young people to have ambitions and aspirations for themselves, helping them to learn about the variety of jobs open to them and the fantastic range of opportunities we have in the region, and to gain a broad understanding of the routes to get into work including apprenticeships and further and higher education

From early 2019 we will be working with around 70 primary schools to pilot the use of the Career Guidance Benchmarks in a primary setting.   The benchmarks have proven to have a transformational impact on careers guidance for slightly older students, forming a framework which enables schools to strengthen links with local businesses and provide top quality careers guidance for each and every pupil. Following our secondary schools pilot and the subsequent wider roll-out, the Government adopted the benchmarks as part of the national Careers Strategy and the North East is now playing a key role in supporting schools across the country to adopt the benchmarks.

For the primary pilot, we will be partnering with schools in different locations, of different sizes and with varying OFSTED ratings so we can really test how best to apply the framework to primaries.

We know that many primary schools are already doing great work in the area of careers guidance and one of the aims of this programme will be to build a community of best practice and facilitate the sharing of challenges and solutions.

Similarly, we will build on the work of the many employers currently supporting teachers and leadership teams in primary schools to bring careers to life for pupils.

We’ve had a fantastic response from schools wanting to be involved in the pilot and there is still time for more schools to get involved. We’d love to hear from any who are interested in working with us to raise the aspirations of the next generation.

The North East Primary Benchmark pilot is part of the North East LEP’s North East Ambition – a programme which aims to improve career guidance and advice from primary school upwards in the North East.

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