City primaries recognised for raising pupils’ aspirations

Primary schools across Stoke-on-Trent have been recognised for their work in raising the career aspirations of their pupils.

All schools got to take part in the Opportunity Area funded ‘Employers into Primaries’ project launched in 2019 which also gave them the opportunity to put in a submission for a Quality Award.

Many schools took advantage of new opportunities to involve pupils in planning for their futures and activities have ranged from careers fairs involving parents and employers to workshops which have involved pupils learning more about jobs in a specific sector.

Lisa Rodgers, from Moorpark Junior School in Burslem, said: “From September to March, we ran a number of activities to support children in their careers learning such as enterprise weeks where the children researched and created a product to make and sell.”

Amanda Whitmore, Year 6 teacher at Eaton Park Academy, Bucknall, added: “Something we did which has a massive impact on our children was the ‘Aspirations Week’ that we put together in the first half term. During this time, the children had experiences with many different people from a range of exciting careers. This included a vet, a former army major, a firefighter who dealt with the Smiler crash and even a Premier League referee. These were perfect opportunities to raise the aspirations of our children by speaking to local and successful people.”

Although planned activities for this year were impacted by Covid-19, some schools used the opportunity to focus on the important job roles undertaken by key workers.

Jade Archer from Maple Court Academy, Bentilee, said: “Whilst in lockdown we asked the children to make posters about the key worker jobs and how important they were throughout the pandemic. When we returned to school, we were able to continue our careers work with virtual sessions including virtual tours of some workplaces and watching video tours of some unique jobs such as Google and games development. “

“The children have enjoyed learning about a wider range of careers and many have been excited to learn about jobs that they didn’t know were available. They are enthusiastic about their future and they know that they can achieve anything that they set their mind too.” 

Pupils from Milton Primary Academy took part in a tree and planting workshop which gave them the opportunity to learn about outdoor career opportunities such as landscaping and gardening and an Engineering Day which involved them in activities which varied from building their own rollercoasters to cracking codes.

Acting Headtacher Rebecca Bailey said: “This project allowed our children to be exposed to a vast range of careers they would never have considered otherwise. There is no doubt that it left the children feeling inspired and excited about their aspirations – a value that we will continue to nurture through our Compass for Life lessons and many more career related learning opportunities in the future.”   

Schools which received the “outstanding” Quality Award were: Eaton Park Academy, Milton Primary Academy, Moorpark Junior School, St Gregory’s Catholic Academy, St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, Stoke Minster Primary School, St Peter’s Catholic Academy, St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary, Sutherland Academy, The Meadows Primary Academy and the Willows Primary school.

Cllr Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy said: “Raising children’s aspirations is something that I am extremely passionate about and I’m really pleased so many of primary schools across the city have entered into the spirit of the project. They have pulled out all the stops, involving their pupils, parents and local employers in creative ways to understand more about different jobs, careers and the skills involved. We’re especially pleased that their work, supported through the Opportunity Area, is helping to raise the aspirations of children living in Stoke-on-Trent.”

The Opportunity Area work complements the initiatives by Wavemaker and the City Council through their Democracy days and Science Days in targeting primary school pupils to encourage them to think about their own skills and aspirations and how these can be channelled into forging a career for themselves. It gave them an opportunity to establish what they were good at and got them thinking how they could use their skills to create for themselves a career they would love doing.

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