Challenging stereotypes and changing perspectives in primary schools

This month we’ve been watching Channel 4’s TV programme “When I Grow Up”, where 6 children are given jobs in worlds they never knew existed to see if it could change their perspective on the world of work and themselves. From the show we could see that children as young as seven had already formed ideas about what they might be able to achieve in the future based on their skills and perhaps in comparison to their peers or siblings. This experience of the world of work truly boosted their confidence and broadened their horizons by giving them the opportunity to develop existing skills and learn new ones. For anyone that watched, Isabella in episode 1 at ‘Hello Magazine’ really could be a future leader! She became so articulate as the group leader and took on every challenge with enthusiasm and determination.

The show really emphasised the importance of the work Future First is now doing with primary schools, by supporting them to build communities of alumni and other local role models that can help children learn about the range of diverse opportunities and pathways available in their future.

Former pupil, Callum, returned to his old primary school as part of British Science Week and highlighted the importance of ensuring that jobs feel achievable. “I spent the afternoon talking with each of the classes from Year 3 to Year 6 about my journey since leaving school and how I use science on a day to day basis in my role within Performance Psychology. I wanted to show them that there’s a lot more to science then they originally thought, to open their eyes to it a little bit. If anything, I hope I showed them that not all scientists work in a lab wearing a white coat and goggles with mad hair! I hope it changed their perceptions and made jobs in the future seem more approachable.”

Newly published research by LKMco and Founders4Schools has highlighted that age-appropriate careers activity should begin as soon as children join primary school. These activities have been shown to help open up their horizons and improve understanding of the future while learning about themselves in the process. Career-related activities in primary school also have the potential to impact wider society by breaking down job stereotypes and prejudices that are often formed early in life.

Future First now has 294 alumni signed up to support primary schools across the UK and are excited by the progress our pioneer primary schools are making. These alumni return not only to support age-appropriate career activities but also as mentors, assembly speakers, curriculum topic hooks and much more.

Download our free My Journey volunteer assembly pack to discover how primary schools can begin to embed alumni and other local volunteer support into school life. This assembly aims to inspire children about the possibilities available in the future and increase their confidence about being successful through hearing the story of someone who went to their school or grew up locally.

If you’d like further information about the services we offer primary schools visit our services and products page or contact our Head of Primary, Amy Cuffley, on amy.cuffley@futurefirst.org.uk.