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Careers Forum: broadening horizons for primary school children

We were really excited to hold Sheffield’s first Primary Schools Careers Forum this Wednesday - we hosted a plethora of professionals from a variety of industries, to give the brightest young minds from nine Sheffield primary schools a taste of the world of work.

The Careers Forum took place in the Sheffield Girls’ Sports Hall and made for an insightful, thought-provoking afternoon. Around 150 students from schools including Gleadless, Arbourthorne, Tinsley Meadows, Hatfield Academy, Greengate Lane Academy and EMMAUS School had the chance to learn about different careers from over 35 industry professionals.

Children from the nine primary schools rotated around the three ‘zones’: the activity zone held hands-on activities from a range of professionals, the investigation zone had worksheets with questions for the children to ask, and the communication zone challenged children to practise their networking skills by talking to our former pupils and current sixth form pupils about the career choices they have made.

Representatives from the South Yorkshire Fire Brigade, Sheffield Hallam University, Grant Thornton and Henry Boot attended as well as Sheffield Girls’ alumnae representing a wide range of careers including Medicine, Landscape Design, Filmmaking, Psychology and becoming an entrepreneur.

Mrs Good, Consultant Teacher and Director of Outreach, developed the concept for the event. "I could not have been more delighted by how well the event was received by our state school partners," she commented. "It is more obvious than ever that there is a need for quality careers education to be delivered at primary school and not wait until the children are in secondary school.  Let’s capitalise on the awe and wonder that abounds in children whilst still in primary and expose them to the world of possibilities in the adult world.

"The aim of the event was to inspire and inform and the feedback from the schools who attended was that we achieved this and then some.  This was reiterated by Mrs Samantha Gaymond – Headteacher at Stocksbridge Junior school- when she said her children really enjoyed the carers event , finding it so incredibly informative and invaluable, I just wish I could have brought all my students!"

There is increasing evidence that early careers education engagement can have a hugely positive outcome. Research indicates that it leads to an increase in academic attainment, as well as motivating and inspiring both children and their families, helping them see a future to which they can aspire and which feels achievable.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Headteachers said, “The importance of appropriate exposure to the world of work at primary level cannot be understated. Children form stereotypical views of the world from an early age. Biased assumptions lead to a narrowing of career aspirations and an inability to relate learning to a world beyond school.”

The aim of the day was to raise aspirations and expose young children to a wide range of career opportunities that they might otherwise not know about. Our hope is that the event allowed them to increase their knowledge and understanding of employment in a wide range of sectors, broadening their perspective on what careers they can pursue.

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