Primary Work Education

Are we educating them to be employable?

Gordon Buchanan measures baby polar bears

Education means many things to different people but for me, it means giving the child the ability to ultimately gain employment, preferably in field that they enjoy. I was lucky to be well educated but I still arrived wholly unprepared at the Careers Advice gate. The idea of Primary Work Education is to start the preparation earlier, gently introducing children to different jobs and opening their minds to the opportunities ahead of them. The key to is to keep it fun and light-hearted and the hope is that by relating school work to real jobs, children will become more motivated to focus and learn.  Knowlegde is key and the more know knowledge they have, the more prepared they will be and the more options they will have.


Anyone who has explored this avenue with children will have seen their enthusiasm. As adults our natural instinct is to think that it is too serious for the kids, that we should protect them from the real world.  What will surprise us most is how much the children enjoy it.

Benefits of Work Education

1. Motivation. By enabling children to apply what they learn in school to the outside world we increase motivation.  Without Work Education in the classroom, children go through the motions without any real idea of why they are doing so. For example, when we apply the learning of 'measurements' to real life situations, such as Gordon the Filmmaker measuring baby polar bears to determine their likelihood of survival, we start putting real meaning behind the teaching and giving real motivation to the children.


2. Inspiration, Aspiration and Social Mobility.  By opening young minds to a wide range of diverse jobs, we have an opportunity to inspire them before they have a chance to think 'I can't do that'. Doctors, engineers, designers - we can improve social mobility by opening up a world of jobs that some children may not get exposed to before it's too late.


3. Preparation.  Those children who have gone through the Work Education journey will be more likely to have a clearer idea of what they want to do by the end of Primary.  This means they are more likely to choose the right subjects and possibly gain some work experience throughout secondary in their chosen field, thus increasing their likelihood of employment.


4. Developing a good work ethic.  As parents and teachers we strive to teach good manners, numeracy and literacy. Should learning a good work ethic not be equally important?  A good work ethic can lead to higher self esteem and greater independence and helps a child gain the right attitude at an early age.  We know that behaviours are learned early and are difficult to change. Leaving this attitude to be learned in secondary, or beyond, is too late. 


5. Employability.  A strong work ethic, knowledge of the world around them, appropriately chosen subjects and perhaps some work placements in summer holidays all helps towards employability.  Educating them to be employable.

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