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Gerald Haigh

Demystify jobs in media or the arts by speaking to the professionals. Gerald Haigh investigates

If creativity in school is to mean anything, it has to encompass broadening children's career horizons, encouraging them to think that there's a greater variety of interesting jobs out there than they realised.

Putting children in touch with people who do inventive and artistic things for a living - through programmes such as Creative Partnerships - can encourage them to say, "I could do that."

In Slough, an annual Creative Careers event targeted at Year 9 pupils before their GCSE decisions showcases jobs and courses in media and the arts. At the last event, 60-odd people - such as DJs, jewellery-makers and chefs - talked to pupils about their personal career paths.

"Teachers say it's an eye-opener for young people," says Anna Jones, director of Slough Creative Partnerships. "They start to realise that you can be a writer, or a garden designer."

Susannah Giles, a Year 9 pupil at St Bernard's convent school, agrees.

"Before this eye-opening trip, I was under the impression the creative industry consisted of a few, poorly paid jobs, mainly artists, authors and poets. Almost the second we sat down, I realised how wrong I'd been!"

There are nearly two million creative jobs and it's an expanding sector - growing at 9 per cent a year compared with 2.6 per cent for the whole economy.

Many pupils were interested in television and film production, and companies gave them the chance to sample various jobs.

Lyn Ayres, of the local Connexions, the careers advisory service, emphasises that "broadening" means not just appealing to artistically-minded children but showing them that there are roles in creative businesses for people with traditional skills.

"It's not just acting and performing - you can do the admin side, or computers."

Scientists, engineers and mathematicians justifiably bridle at any assumption that creativity belongs to the arts. Joe Mahtani, an engineering senior lecturer at Coventry University, points to the cutting edge work which his department does in the field of control technology. For instance, using engineering principles to simplify the treatment of cancer patients.

"In engineering, we're making things that actually work in the real world - automating a car plant, developing the software - it's a highly creative task."

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Gerald Haigh

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