On 7th February, Future First were invited to host an activity table at Civil Service North West’s Changing Horizons event at Blackpool Winter Gardens. Alumni Programme Officer Emily tells us all about the day:
Over 500 children from Year 5, 6 and 7 attended the day from a wide range of schools. Future First were asked to work with the primary school pupils as this academic year, following a successful pilot in Knowsley, we extended our service into primary schools. This was really exciting for me as I usually run workshops with secondary school-aged students. It was a great opportunity to showcase the importance of our work for younger children. Support from Future First’s Head of Primary, Amy Cuffley, made putting together a workshop with fun, engaging and inspiring activities appropriate for 9-10 year olds very straightforward.
On the day, we were one of 45 separate activity tables set up in the Winter Gardens ready for pupils to carousel between. What could have been a challenging and chaotic day ran like clockwork as hundreds of civil service volunteers, kitted out in ‘I love BPL’ t-shirts stewarded groups of pupils between activity tables. Future First worked with 8 groups of primary pupils from a range of schools discovering an enormous variety of future career aspirations, including pupils that wanted to be neuroscientists, engineers, youtubers, violinists, veterinarians and the most unusual – a glassmaker.
We were really lucky to be joined on the day by three volunteers, Laura, Sadie and Ryan, from local Blackpool business 1st Stop Group. All three volunteers were very friendly and brilliant at answering queries from the primary school pupils, who can often pose some probing questions!
It was a nice surprise when Ryan revealed to one group of pupils that he had actually been a former student of their primary school. Their ability to relate their own experiences to his suddenly grew and even the shyest members of the group couldn’t wait to pepper him with questions about his time at their school.
One of the pupils’ favourite activities was the initial icebreaker, which involved them deciding which two statements out of six were true about the volunteer they were working with. Laura couldn’t believe almost every pupil guessed that she had once slept on a train in Thailand for ten hours and Sadie was amused that no pupils guessed she had lived with twelve dogs!
The pupils were really engaged and it seemed that working in small groups gave them the confidence to ask insightful questions about the volunteers’ pathways and listen carefully to their answers. The children’s knowledge of the possibilities available in their future increased with every conversation. It was fantastic encouraging them to think creatively about jobs.
One pupil commented that while they had been to many activity tables that day, the Future First table had been his favourite as he had had the most fun asking the volunteers questions about their time at school. Relatable role models truly help to bring the world of work and the range of pathways into it to life for young people.
Mayor of Blackpool, Gary Coleman, making his way around the tables, paused to watch the session and commented that he had never received any careers sessions like this when he was at school and these children were lucky. I agree, Future First provides children the opportunity meet someone like them, a relatable role model, that can show them ‘people like me’ succeed in diverse and interesting ways.