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Inspiring all children about their futures

At New Silksworth Academy in Sunderland, children from Nursery through to year 6 took part in a whole-school Careers Day, meeting people from a range of different businesses and organisations.
From a football session with SAFC players through to a masterclass with a doctor and a nurse from Silksworth Medical Practice, every part of the day was designed to inspire pupils about a variety of careers and pathways.

To prepare for the day, the school’s Careers Leader approached businesses, universities and organisations in the local area, with Twitter proving to be the most successful way of making contact. 

As many of the people approached were not used to presenting to young children, the Careers Leader provided guidance and helped with the creation of workshops and activities which would inspire and interest primary-aged pupils.

To make sure that every child gained the maximum benefit from the day, classroom time in the run-up to the event was spent researching different careers and preparing questions to ask on the day.

Making the day a success 

A timetable for the day was devised which allowed all children to experience a selection of workshops, and afternoon masterclasses were scheduled for those children with a particular interest or strength in specific areas. Even the youngest children, who attend the Nursery, took part in two different sessions during the day. 

The entire staff was involved in making sure that the day itself ran smoothly, and briefings were carried out in advance on safeguarding and protocols for managing the large number of visitors to the school.

The Department for International Trade, Sunderland and Teesside Universities, Sunderland Culture, and Northumbria Police were just some of the organisations which led activities and careers sessions, as did individuals working in careers including translation and art. 

Not only did the event result in positive feedback from pupils, staff, parents and facilitators, but it also led to new contacts within the participating organisations, and invitations for children to visit the Stadium of Light, Teesside University and the SAFC Training Academy. 

Top tips for success:

  • Set a date in the school diary as early as possible, giving at least 10 weeks lead-in time.
  • Make early contact with as many employers as possible. New Silksworth Academy reached out to parents, governors and local businesses and made use of networks such as Teach First Ambassadors to reach former teachers working in different industries. 
  • Provide all interested contacts with a clear format of what is expected of them, a format for the day, and offer support in resourcing activities 
  • Create a timetable and allocate speakers to an appropriate age range.
  • Prepare resources and order any necessary resources for workshops. New Silksworth Academy also provided lunch and refreshments throughout the day for workshop facilitators.
  • Ensure all classes have completed some form of preparation work prior to the day so that they have relevant questions and a focus on what is happening. 
  • Delegate tasks to all staff for the day such as chaperoning facilitators, taking photographs and collecting children for masterclasses.
  • Rotate throughout all sessions, assessing what is going well, talking to the children about what they are learning and getting verbal feedback. 
  • Ensure that all children have an opportunity to reflect upon their experiences during the following week. 

Three biggest challenges:

  • Late cancellation by some facilitators. School staff (such as the chef and the premises manager) were kept in reserve to fill empty slots. 
  • Demands on time were mitigated by delegating tasks to all members of staff.
  • Facilitators who lack experience in working with primary-aged children were provided with resources and helped to design sessions. 

What next?
Now that a working model is in place and staff are familiar with the format of the day, the Careers Day will be repeated in the future. To develop the event further, subject leaders will be asked to use their own networks to approach potential workshop facilitators.

For more details, contact New Silksworth Academy Careers Leader, Treasa Crumley, on [email protected]