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Motivation key to schools’ Covid recovery

A new report has revealed an innovative and inspiring way to help children’s education recover from Covid – and one that doesn’t involve longer school days or shorter school holidays.

Primary children, who are among those who have missed the biggest proportion of their schooling, can be motivated and inspired through live, interactive virtual events where they meet and question a diverse range of working people across the UK from electrical engineers to Antarctic explorers.

Karen Giles, Head Teacher at Barham Primary School, said:

A key part of the solution to the post-Covid education recovery and challenging stereotypes is giving children access to role models from the world of work who can inspire, motivate and help children see why education is relevant.

Findings from a national pilot and a survey of 10,000 children shows that the Primary Futures programme results in improved motivation for maths, science and English and increases children’s future aspirations and desire to learn.

The programme has been successfully piloted by the charity Education and Employers working with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

After taking part in Primary Futures activities, 88% of children agreed that doing well at school would help them in the future and 82% of children now understood how maths, science and English could be useful.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the NAHT, commented:

Now is the time for us to ignite our children’s aspirations. We need to help them see what’s possible and the opportunities open to them. It is truly incredible how much impact this scheme has had.

The report also shows that the career aspirations of 7 year-olds are often unchanged by the time they reach 18 and are worryingly influenced by gender, ethnicity and social stereotypes. This results in young people ruling out options from a young age.

However, following inspiring sessions with people from the world of work, 84% of children understood that boys and girls can do the same job and 80% now agreed that ‘people like them’ can be successful.

Nick Chambers, CEO of Education and Employers, added:

We need to ensure that all our children have the chance to be inspired and this must start in primary school.

Education and Employers is calling for support to ensure that all primary children now have a chance to be motivated and inspired by virtual interactive sessions with a broad range of role models from the world of work. This is something the charity can achieve for less than 14 pence per child per annum using live events which have been piloted and proven to work during the pandemic.

The report findings were backed by the Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD, who commented:

Few people realise how early in life educational and occupational aspirations are raised or curtailed. This report does not just highlight the issue, but also comes with a compelling and surprisingly simple answer to it: Giving children access to role models from the world of work and connecting teachers with employer volunteers to co-create relevant career-related learning environments.

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Image: Education and Employers