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Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, provides an update on the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

In 2015, the North East LEP began work on a pilot programme that would go on to directly influence statutory guidance for every school in England on how to deliver effective and impactful careers guidance.

Fast forward to 2019 and we’re now running a second pilot in the North East LEP region, this time focusing on primary schools.

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot aims to sow the seeds of ambition from an early age in recognition of the fact children can start to make career limiting decisions as early as five years old.

In partnership with the EY Foundation, a charity that supports young people from low income backgrounds get into work, we’re working with 70 primary schools from across the North East. The purpose of the project is to test how the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks can be adapted for a primary school setting.

Since launching the pilot, each of the schools has used our North East Ambition online audit tool to assess their current careers education provision and identify which, if any, of the Benchmarks they are delivering.

Using this information, they have then gone on to develop an individual action plan that outlines how they will implement and achieve the Benchmarks.

The North East LEP has supported them through this process by providing expert help and advice in the form of two primary facilitators that work directly with the schools. We’ve also arranged two area meetings giving pilot schools the chance to come together, share ideas, discuss best practice and access resources, toolkits and learning to help them deliver their action plans.

It’s been fascinating to see the progress that the schools have made at this early stage of the pilot and we are delighted with the level of commitment from the staff at each of the schools, including from Head Teachers and Governors.

We’re seeing schools integrate careers education into its existing work, which is a great way to deliver the Benchmarks. Our facilitators have also supported teachers to introduce careers into lesson plans and help students understand the range of jobs available to them. For example, pupils at Newsham Primary School in Blyth worked with ambassadors from Blyth STEM Hub and the Greenpower Foundation to help build an electric car. Students at Percy Main Primary School in North Shields learnt how to be museum curators as part of a visit to Segedunum Roman Fort, and pupils at Kings Priory School in Tynemouth enjoyed a careers event with over 25 activities that explored different job roles – from chocolatiers to engineers.

It’s also been great to see our primary and secondary schools beginning to work together to support achievement of the Benchmarks and this whole school, and collaborative, approach is a really positive sign for the pilot’s success.

In all, we’ve had a fantastic start to the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot and I’d like to thank all 70 primary schools for their commitment, hard work and enthusiasm.

It will be exciting to see what progress we’ve made in another six months.

If you’d like to learn more about our North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot, please visit www.northeastambition.co.uk. You can also email us with any questions via [email protected].

By Michelle Rainbow
Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is supported by funding from the European Social Fund, EY Foundation and the Local Growth Fund.

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