Learning about careers has been “overlooked” in primary schools and must be improved to tackle negative stereotypes about what pupils can achieve, Teach First has said.
The charity is launching what it says is the first careers-related training programme for teachers and leaders working in primary schools.
According to a report published by Teach First today, while interest in careers education has ramped up in recent years at secondary schools, it has “not improved” at primary level.
The report argues that “career stereotypes” can form at an early age and put constraints on what young people think they can achieve related to “perceptions of social class, intelligence and opportunities with limiting ideas of ‘men’s work and women’s work’”.
To combat this, Teach First is developing careers-related training programmes for staff in primary schools serving disadvantaged communities.
Careers education in primary
Teach First said the pilots would aim to enhance understanding of jobs and careers, grow skills such as problem-solving and teamwork, and improve pupil outcomes by changing attitudes and enhancing pupils’ understanding of what different subjects can lead to.
The report says that “buy-in” from senior leaders is essential for good careers-related learning in primary schools, and that children should have encounters with the world of work from the age of 5 “to see the connection between what they learn and what they might want to do in the future”.
The report was commissioned by Teach First and the AKO Foundation, and undertaken by the Education and Employers charity with DMH Associates.
Russell Hobby, Teach First’s chief executive, said that while there had been “improvements in careers and employability education”, it had been “overlooked when it comes to primary settings”.
“By speaking to our teachers and seeing the research, we know that quality careers provision from an early age is the best way of challenging the stereotypes and constraints that can take hold and limit the ambitions of young people as they grow up.”
There have been growing calls recently for an improvement in the careers advice provided to younger pupils.
The chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon, said careers education should be embedded from “the first day a child enters the classroom”.
The chief executive of Ucas, Clare Marchant, meanwhile, said that aspirations about careers and higher education should begin in "primary and even early years".