Posted by

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of NAHT

14 Oct 2015

Our aim to get a healthcare professional into every primary school to talk about careers

Careers advice should begin early. I don't mean that we should be asking seven year olds whether they want to become accountants or digital marketing advisers. I do mean that decisions made throughout school years affect our future. It is too late even when options are being selected to correct neglect at previous phases. It does good to give young people some idea of the link between what they learn in school and what they might do later in life. To see how subjects like maths and English might be relevant to a whole range of occupations. To understand what work is about and what skills and attributes are most prized. 

This knowledge should not be the exclusive preserve of the well connected. 

And please note that this is not a plea to make school subjects 'relevant' to life. It is almost the other way round: helping people to see how life is relevant to school. 

For all the talk about new skills and jobs that don't yet exist, I don't see literacy going out of fashion any time soon. I don't see maths turning into an arcane hobby. I don't see employers disdaining diligence. The stuff people do every day in school does matter. Too often we only realise that looking backwards. 

This week the British Chambers of Commerce produced a survey of 3,500 business bosses and education leaders which found that 82 per cent of people in business and 73 per cent of respondents from schools, colleges and universities believe secondary schools should offer work experience for pupils aged under 16.

In 2012 the last government removed the duty to provide work related learning for under 16s in England, despite disagreement from 90% of the respondents in the government consultation

In fact, NAHT would like to see advice go even further and start earlier, giving primary age children an insight into different careers. This is why we helped set up Primary Futures; a scheme which gets people from different careers into schools to talk about what they do. October is ‘Who’s in Health?’ Month, which we hope will inspire a new generation of children to aspire to a career in medicine.

We've been working with the Medical Schools Council, NHS employers, HEE, the CMOs in the four nations, the Chairs of the General Medical Council and of various medical Royal Colleges, all medical schools, and many hospital trusts and heath organisations. The aim is to get a healthcare professional into every primary school in the country to talk about careers in the fifth largest profession in the world. 

If you haven’t already, I urge you to sign up to Primary Futures. It is another good example of the profession taking ownership of standards and taking responsibility for itself.  

All views expressed in guest blogs are that of the authors, and not of the British Chambers of Commerce.