Hundreds of thousands of young people have been able to meet volunteers from across the UK through the interactive virtual sessions we started in May. They have met people doing a wide variety of roles in different sectors. People who have helped to inspire them, broaden their horizons of the world of work and show them how their futures could look. Schools and volunteers have worked really hard to put on brilliant activities during this challenging year to help motivate and engage young people.
There have been so many inspiring sessions and volunteers and we’ve selected just a handful to bring to life the stories that have been shared and the schools they’ve reached.
- Year 6 children at St Francis Catholic Primary School took part in a virtual Classroom Chats activity to find out about the legal system. Having learnt about the Civil Rights Movement and court cases in their lessons, the class had the opportunity to hear from a Senior Lawyer at the Government Legal Department and the Deputy Director in HM Courts and Tribunal Services to bring their learning to life.
- Schools in Stoke-On-Trent, Wiltshire and Blackpool heard from scientists and PhD students carrying out fascinating research – on inflammation, immunology and cures to snake venom!
- Pupils at St Teath Primary in Cornwall had the chance to meet the Head of HR at ITV Studios, an Occupational Therapist, an Education Outreach worker at Software Cornwall and a Royal Air Force pilot.
- Maple Court Academy took part in a whole school ‘What’s My Line’ assembly, with 13 classrooms joining from their bubbles. Children heard from Christine Hodgson, the Chair of Severn Trent, who talked about her job and also explained the importance of water.
- Children at Ossett South Parade Primary in Wakefield got to hear from four volunteers – a Minister, an MP, a graphic designer and a graduate apprentice at Aston Martin.
- Children at Netley Primary and Centre for Autism heard from four volunteers in the arts – including an art and design lecturer, an Operations Manager at BBC radio, an Artistic Learning Manager from Northern Ballet and a Computer Scientist working on special animations for Disney!
Children at Townville Infant School and Horbury Bridge Academy watch their virtual activities
- Health and Social Care college students took part in a virtual work experience activity, gaining insights into nursing, midwifery and Allied Health Professions. After hearing from volunteers, students received advice on next steps and writing a standout application.
- Over 900 young people tuned into an activity with volunteers from the aviation sector to learn about the different roles available.
- Schools in Bradford and Cheshire heard from professionals at Bank of America, sharing the paths they took to get to their jobs and highlighting the importance of soft skills.
- We beamed some festive spirit direct to Key Stage 3 year groups by shining a light on a range of exciting roles which are impacted by the seasonal period. A buyer at John Lewis, a Footman at the Royal Household and a magician and DJ shared the range of roles in their industry, how they got to where they are and how they are impacted seasonally – we even saw some magic tricks! Access the recording.
Magician Nick impresses our staff and students watching the session with his card trick!
In recent weeks, young people and volunteers have even reached each other across the globe through virtual sessions. One volunteer even joined from Australia, staying up until the early hours to take part. Several UK schools met Andrea who was joining live from Switzerland and talked about her charity MOD-ELLE, which seeks to challenge gender stereotyping around young people’s career aspirations, and the work she has done in Davos. And 32 eleven to thirteen year-olds at Maria Assumpta School in Mityana, Uganda, heard from a PhD student from Cambridge, a Policy Advisor at the Department for Education and a Programme Manager at a charity in Scotland that works in Uganda.
Pupils at Maria Assumpta School reflected on their learnings from the activity
Volunteers and teachers have adapted incredibly to the challenges of 2020 and the technological demands that have come with it, determined to continue inspiring young people via their computer screens. During the last seven months, we have worked with schools across the country to refine the virtual sessions working with a variety of technology platforms that fit different requirements, and navigated the complex logistics to develop a system that is simple for teachers and volunteers, whilst ensuring safeguarding is paramount at all times.
To give you a flavour of the range of volunteers helping, here are a few people who have taken part in virtual activities this year. There are tens of thousands more volunteers available to schools via the Inspiring the Future / Primary Futures online portal.
Anil Shah has worked at IBM for 25 years in a real range of roles, and is passionate about helping young people understand the variety of roles in technology. When taking part in sessions, Anil’s key messages for pupils were to stay positive, listen and learn, and to always ask when they didn’t understand something – even if it seemed like a ‘silly question’. Commenting on his experience of talking to children through virtual activities, Anil said: “I found the experience very inspiring, as I felt my experience was giving guidance, knowledge and hope to the children.“
Georgia Galloway is a Junior Doctor in her second foundation year, and recently took part in several virtual sessions. To bring her job to life during activities, she showed the equipment she uses in her job – children were excited to see her stethoscope and scrubs! Georgia told the children all about her career path; from wanting to be a scientist when she was ten years old, to her current role in A&E, and what she might want to specialise in. Her key message to children was to make sure they enjoy what they do when they grow up.
Matt Supersad works in post-production on films, TV shows, music videos and adverts. He took part in a ‘What’s My Line?’ activity – and many pupils were close to guessing his role with their suggestions of Website Developer and Graphic Designer! Matt said, “It was personally fulfilling and a real joy to be involved in virtual careers talks for pupils of primary schools… it was an opportunity to expose the pupils to disciplines and career paths that ordinarily they may not have known existed or how to access.”
Finally, Genny Jones, a Confidence Builder, has been involved in a great deal of sessions since virtual activities began in May. During virtual talks, Genny’s personality shines through the screen as she encourages children to believe in themselves, to take small steps towards their goals, and to ask for support from others if they can’t do something on their own – and of course, she always finishes her talks with her amazing Confidence Song!
If you want to volunteer, please sign up.
We want to thank teachers, careers leaders, volunteers, employers and supporters for all your work this year to help children and young people raise their aspirations and broaden their horizons during a very different and unsettling time. We would like to wish you a very good holiday break and we look forward to working with you in 2021.