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Bringing the world of work to life for primary pupils

Sandra Fawn, Interim Executive Headteacher, Canon Peter Hall CE Primary School, Wrawby St Mary’s CE Primary School, shares her experience of working with local employers to inspire primary pupils about the workplace and open their eyes to the choices and opportunities available to them when they leave education.   

As a newly appointed Headteacher I was asked as part of my interview my 5-year vision for the children at Canon Peter Hall CE Primary. There was one question I knew I needed to answer and bring to life. Why is this school in the top 10% deprivation nationally when Immingham has the busiest and most affluent port in the country - Associated British Ports Immingham.  

Phillips 66 - The Humber Refinery, situated on the North East coast of England is one of the most complex in the UK. It is built across 480 acres and employs over 750 people.

Knauf - the Immingham plant was now ‘the longest and fastest plasterboard plant in the UK’.  It is also now one of the largest producers of all types of plasterboards in Europe. And as I began to explore Immingham I realised my vision would encompass to bringing the world of work into our school.

Six years on we now ‘employ’ our pupils. We have a ‘Health and Safety Company and we have an apprentice scheme for Y6 pupils. In addition, we encouraged a pupil to write a business plan for a start-up funding grant. We have pupils who have been subcontracted out to a company to promote education within their business.

Our pupils experience full professional interviews by managers of local business. They write application letters following a person specification, they are shortlisted… or not! interviewed and appointed… or not. Yes, we let them know if they were successful… or not.   Yes, I would imagine you think that’s tough, but isn’t life tough and these messages can change attitudes, we can evidence a change in drive, motivation and determination to succeed next time.

We have found the most challenging pupils often shine during the experience. By employing them it brings out skills that aren’t seen with the typical educational setting we are in. When you open the world of work to children it impacts on many aspects of a school day.  Our attendance improved and we have had no exclusions in 5 years. Whilst we cannot assign this totally to their experiences of the world of work, we believe it is what makes us different from a ‘typical’ school within a similar context.

If you open your children’s eyes to what the workplace is all about, they will have a far greater reason to be engaged in learning and know that their secondary education leads to their future.  They will simply have a reason to learn and engage fully in education, whilst recognising there are many opportunities for them.

We do not need to promote a particular career at primary; what we need to promote are the concepts and language of the world of work.  Our pupils know that when they leave us, businesses will be waiting for their applications in the very near future. 

Embedding the world of work isn’t about a visitor or a company just carrying out a talk or assembly, it’s a business and company who invests in your pupils with their time with an agreed shared interest in the future of children.

We cannot prepare our pupils for a particular career as our world is developing quicker than we can prepare for. What we can and need to do is educate our pupils to the concepts and behaviours which link to the world of work. 

Hopefully, the Primary Careers Resources Platform will just make you think and reflect on what you as a school can do to bring the world of work to your pupils. Start simple, start small, but aim high and I am sure you will soon realise, Primary Career Learning has been a missed opportunity for many years in primary education, but with the support of these resources, you can help make it happen for your young people.

How we bring it to life…



What our pupils say…

Liam Y6 Pupil

"I have been most inspired by Ultimate Group because of the way they cooperate with children from other schools; as a subcontracted employee of Ultimate Group, I have been lucky enough to have experienced other schools being invited to their factory to learn about ‘The World of Work’ and their company. Furthermore, their employees have a variety of aspirational skills and qualifications, therefore making work enjoyable and producing the highest quality output! I hope that during the future, I will have the opportunity to work as a graphic or digital designer upstairs at UG."

What our local employers say…


“We were very honored to be invited to the final apprentice interview and presentation day. We were blown away by how fantastically well every child did. They did not seem phased by the whole process at all. If the children carry on with their amazing growth mindsets that they showed us on the day, they will definitely go far in their adult lives.



Associated British Ports are proud to work with Cannon Peter Hall CE Primary to ensure that local children understand the range of careers available to them right on their doorstep at the UK’s biggest port. The children we have worked with have been amazing and we hope to see them again in years to come as a future generation of port professionals."