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Over one hundred people gathered at London’s Coram centre on Thursday evening to take part in the launch of What works? Career-related learning in primary schools. The paper, which combines a review of the evidence and interviews with primary teachers and leading experts, highlights the importance of career exploration for children as young as four.  

Career-related learning in primary is relatively under-researched, so the event provided a welcome opportunity for Nick Chambers and Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel from Education and Employers charity, to outline the findings from the research, and contextualise it in other related work undertaken by the charity.

There were lots of questions from the floor and delegates who showed the commitment and drive of the sector to do more to support careers work in Primary.

John Snell, from Welton Primary School, who contributed to the report, spoke inspiringly about his experience of introducing career-related learning into his school. He explained the value of broadening children’s aspirations, not just raising them, through exposure to a wide array of employers. His school are using a thematic structure which will see a focus on ‘jobs outdoors’, including explorers, in coming terms.

Investing in career education in Primary

His presentation highlighted the value in letting children lead – from asking questions, to delivering assemblies on what they had learned – and on linking the world of work to the curriculum. Both themes run through What Works? and from there into the Primary Fund.

In line with the Careers Strategy, the Department for Education, through The Careers & Enterprise Company, is investing £2 million in developing and extending career-related learning in primary schools. The Primary Fund, which has been developed using the lessons from What Works? will build the evidence base through both scaling and evaluating existing careers programmes and developing and testing new programmes through incubation and support. 

Challenging stereotypes

Career-related learning in primary schools is about exploration, understanding and challenging stereotypes for all children. These stereotypes, adopted from as young as six, impact on engagement in learning and go on to influence career aspirations and subject choices as children progress through secondary school. Helping children to expand their ideas of who they could become is a fundamental part of career-related learning in primary education.

Existing programmes and new ideas for interventions will greatly benefit both from the Fund and its evaluation.

We are seeking projects to apply for funding to help children keep their horizons broad and the doors open. For more information see the Fund prospectus.