Rhyl is a state primary school in London. It has a wide range of pupils from diverse and vibrant backgrounds. Rhyl staff and governors have worked hard over the years to raise standards so that the children have a good education and a rich and varied curriculum to enable them to fulfil their potential.
They then felt ready to move to the next stage, so working with the business leaders who are on the Governing Body, staff designed a new programme “Raising Aspirations at Rhyl”. This was to inspire both girls and boys to think more widely about the world of work and how they can use their talents, enthusiasm and skills in the future.
With the Head, the lead teacher began by carrying out a survey of Year 5 children aged 9 and 10 years old. The findings showed there was already a strong gender divide emerging with many of the girls thinking they might not work at all, and the boys thinking they would be footballers and office based workers and none wanting to run their own business. This gave the team a good basis by which to tackle these stereotypes and to take account of the findings as a core part of the programme so that children did not rule out options too soon in their lives.
Using the business Governors and other school networks, the 2013/14 programme has included:
- The whole of year 5 spending the day at a number of IT companies in Shoreditch including KANO, MOO.com, MindCandy and fashion PR company EDITD. The visits to the ‘IT’ companies showed children that there are a number of interesting jobs in ‘IT’ outside of coding, programming and engineering, but also since all the companies were ‘early stage’ and small they were led and founded by relatively young people (Men and Women).
- The children being visited by an Epidemiologist, lecturer and researcher, performance poet.
- A range of workshops set up showcasing different skill sets including catering (links with local cafe’s and Jamie’s Italian), Indoor Garden Design and 3 Entrepreneurs who inspired the children to think about setting up their own business (this was through an organisation called Founders4Schools)
- A judge coming into the school and the children taking part in a role play where they could learn about the routes taken to work in law. The children re-enacted a court scene exploring the importance of the different roles from the Judge to the clerk. Many girls, in particular were inspired by this as it opened their minds to a world of work where typically it is very male dominated.
Many of these activities have a focus on sectors where jobs for the future will be in areas which traditionally have been male dominated, such as IT, Computing, senior positions in Law and also Enterprise.
The programme is reaping results and will continue to be closely monitored. One of the main results has been the positive change in children’s attitudes. There has been a common factor running throughout all of the visits and workshops of ‘take every opportunity.’ There is an ethos building in school of a ‘never give up’ attitude which is becoming embedded in the children’s learning.”