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Job search starts early;Research update

Reva Klein on the latest findings

Careers education doesn't have to wait until secondary school. It can improve young children's understanding of the nature of work and help them identify interests and abilities.

A small-scale study of two classes of nine-year-olds looked at how an annual careers week was conducted and what impact it had on the children five months later. It concluded that, with proper planning of activities around a theme, careers education is a positive addition to the primary curriculum.

The school asked two parents - a carpenter and a painter - to give a talk about their jobs. Both classes were attentive and asked questions about the nature of the work, how they entered their professions and the level of job satisfaction.

A survey five months later showed that the children remembered most of what the speakers had said. The researcher suggests that this was helped by visits being followed by a programme of classroom activities, including a written exercise and discussions, to ensure the careers education programme was not simply a one-off session.

Careers Education in a Primary School by W P Gothard, University of Reading, Bulmershe Court, Reading RG6 1HY.

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