Primary school pupils in Ipswich have been encouraged to aim higher at a careers event organised by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and local groups to address social mobility.
More than 500 Year 5 pupils met with a diverse range of employers, from EDF Energy, HMRC and the NHS to individuals including a judge, an accountant and a chef. The World of Work event was held last week at Chantry Academy and Stoke High School. It was organised by the LEP in partnership with the Oaks Primary School, the Careers & Enterprise Company and the Ipswich Opportunity Area.
Ipswich is one of 12 opportunity areas in the UK identified by the government as ranking poorly when it comes to social mobility. Organiser Jordan Holder, New Anglia LEP’s Enterprise Co-ordinator for Ipswich Opportunity Area, said he wanted to “challenge stereotypes and get students to consider diverse career options”.
The Careers & Enterprise Company is the national network set up to inspire and prepare young people for the fast-changing employment world. While much of the company’s work in Ipswich lies in broadening the career horizons of secondary and further education students, Mr Holder believes it is key to inspire children from primary school age onwards.
“A survey of 20,000 primary school children published in January found that their career aspirations have little in common with projected workforce needs,” he said.
“It also revealed that gender stereotypes in job aspirations still apply from a very young age. One of the important messages from this event is that every young person – regardless of their personal background – deserves access to opportunities.”
Jeremy Pentreath, joint headteacher at the Oaks Primary School, and his personal assistant Nicol Parker, were at the forefront of the event and are passionate about preparing pupils for the world of work.
Mr Pentreath said: “Educating pupils about the world of work isn’t about giving careers advice. Rather it is focusing on broadening horizons, raising aspirations, and giving pupils a wide range of experiences of the world of employment. It is about opening doors, showing children that there a vast range of possibilities open to them, and keeping their options open for as long as possible.
“It gives them a context for their learning; why it is important to learn to read, write and be numerate. It also encourages a range of attributes, skills and behaviours that can be developed from an early age and that will leave them in the best possible position as they begin their transition to high school and their future lives.”
Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow and chair of the Education Select Committee, said: “The impact of early engagement can have a hugely positive impact on wider academic achievement, motivating and inspiring both children and their families by helping them see a future to which they can aspire, and which feels achievable.”