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.