Primary Futures – ‘Save the date’ to inspire Blackpool children

Since the launch of our Primary Futures campaign in Blackpool last summer we have been absolutely overwhelmed by the fantastic response from local volunteers from many diverse backgrounds, and their willingness to dedicate their time to the community and children in primary schools – thank you!

As part of the campaign we are organising Primary Futures ‘Aspirations Week’, a really exciting series of events and activities across the area from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th May – so save the date. Over the next couple of weeks you’ll be receiving an email from Andy Mellor, head teacher of St Nicholas Primary School, with further details of the plans and inquiring about  your availability to attend one of the activities.

If you are able to volunteer, you will then be messaged directly by a school inviting you to join them for their Primary Futures events. Don’t worry if you’ve not spoken at a primary school before – we’ve got lots of guidance and resources we can send you to help plan your visit. We’re aiming to provide opportunities for every Blackpool volunteer who can make it so send this email along to a friend and get them to register by clicking here.


By Steve Iredale

Lots of Primary Futures development to look forward in 2017!

With the arrival of a new year it’s interesting to look back and reflect on Primary Futures progress and developments in 2016. We now have over 33,000 volunteers available to primary schools across England, Wales and NI and over 10,000 teachers signed up with in excess of 150,000 messages sent using our online system. Over 3000 primary schools have already joined us and are seeing the benefits of working with volunteers in their localities to help raise the children’s aspirations and demonstrate the so important links between the children’s learning in primary schools and future opportunities. Primary Futures was designed by teachers for teachers!

pfJust in case you still don’t know what Primary Futures is all about the following link to our website should help!

We work with schools across England, Wales and NI and already have a number of events and activities in the pipeline this year. These  include a major authority wide ‘Aspirations Week’ in Blackpool, a series of key events in Wales, developments in Bolton, Bradford, North Lincolnshire and across Yorkshire to name but a few! It’s worth noting that many schools who join us set up their own events without any direct input from the Primary Futures team using the volunteer database, which is at the heart of the project.

If your school hasn’t yet registered the process is quick, easy and free!

Once you have registered you have direct access to a growing number of volunteers via our database. It’s up to individual schools to plan events with their volunteers contacting them via the inbuilt messaging system supported as appropriate by the Primary Futures team and the Education and Employers charity team based in London. Primary Futures is and will always remain a school led project. We recognise no two schools are alike which is why we provide ideas, suggestions and advice which schools adapt to meet the needs of their schools and communities. We offer telephone support and guidance and are keen to help set up high profile activities which go very well when we introduce Primary Futures to a new locality. Visits from team members can also sometimes by accommodated.

So how might you use Primary Futures?

There are many ways to skin the proverbial cat! Some schools like the volunteers to work with small groups of children across all age ranges whilst some prefer to work on a class, whole year or school basis. It really is up to you. Some have a specific focus linked perhaps to ‘gender busting’ or a local or national event such as National Science Week. Will it be a one off or a series of events? A growing number of schools are now linking the support of volunteers to their curriculum across the school year to enhance the children’s learning. The following link takes you to some curriculum ideas put together for us by a group of teachers

We recently received the following quote from teacher in the north west who had contacted a scientist via the database …………………….
‘Just wanted to let you know how great the scientist was that I sorted out through the primary futures website. He was fantastic with the class (and I also have to say I was so proud of how the children behaved and responded during the session too). He was well prepared, used some great resources and it was so interesting for all the children regardless of ability! They were buzzing afterwards and had so many questions about his work and how to be like him!’

The bottom line is clear …………………… we provide access to the volunteer database then you decide what’s best for your school. If you can’t find the volunteers you are looking for we will always do our best to help. As more schools become actively engaged we need more volunteers to join us of course which we are currently working on. If you know local people, friends and family why not encourage them to volunteer? There’s more information on the website in the resources section.

Blogs and photos of your activities are always most welcome so we can share the great work going on via Twitter (@PrimaryFutures) and this blog. Finally ………….the following link takes you to an article published last year in the ‘Headteacher Update’ magazine about Primary Futures. It provides more information and some additional links you might find useful

2017 is indeed the year of Primary Futures! Time to join us?


By Steve Iredale

Primary Futures officially launching in Uganda


The Primary Futures campaign is delighted to be able to announce the official launch of the platform in Uganda.

In partnership with the Good Shepherd school, based in Katwadde in the Masake District, the launch event is due to take place in February 2017. A particularly deprived rural area, a programme such a this is vital to encouraging the learning of young children in the area and it is a privilege to be able to assist with this mission.

We hope that with this launch event will help to raise awareness of the campaign in Uganda, inspiring schools on a national scale to engage with Primary Futures to help broaden their students’ horizons.


By Steve Iredale

International Education Week 2016: Make Time for Languages


14th-18th November marks the British Council’s International Education Week and the theme for 2016 is #MakeTime4Languages.

Across the country, language teachers face challenges in engaging young people in language learning and in studying for foreign language qualifications. Primary schools in England are grappling with the new requirement to teach languages at Key Stage 2. At the same time, whilst the number of young people studying foreign languages at GCSE has stabilised in recent years, language A-Level entries continue to decline. For pupils who do not grow up in bilingual households, school is the key site for intervention on languages.

However the importance of languages is often not recognised by children at the young age where they will most easily be able to learn languages so as part of the Inspiring the Future and Primary Futures programmes, we run a campaign called Inspiring Languages which encourages our volunteers to go into schools to talk about the importance of languages. This can range from inviting volunteers to talk in a classroom, assembly or to help judge a language contest!

3,500 of our Inspiring the Future volunteers have made themselves available to speak to young people about all the wonderful reasons having even a basic proficiency of a second language is so useful. The languages they are equipped to speak about include French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, Urdu, and many more. With so many volunteers eager to help why not log in to your account and invite a working professional to broaden your pupils’ horizons.

To log in to your Inspiring the Future account to invite a volunteer to talk about the importance of languages, go to our website here

You can read more about Inspiring Languages on our website

To find out more about International Education week and to download free resources, click here



By Steve Iredale

Primary Futures commended by Prime Minister

It’s always good to have the ongoing success and growing impact of our NAHT/Education and Employers charity ‘Primary Futures project’ recognised and endorsed by senior figures from all walks of life. This support is important as we seek to build on the number of schools registered and actively using the volunteer database and as we look to increase the current 32,000 volunteers!

A recent letter sent by Kim Johnson, NAHT National President, to the Prime Minister received an encouraging response with some of the content reproduced below …………..

‘I was pleased to read about the work that Primary Futures is doing and would like to commend all those involved for the work they are doing to make it a success. It is important for children to see the relationship about what they are learning in school and the world of work they will enter after it. Children who understand the possibilities that academic achievement can open up for them are far more likely to be motivated to achieve.

The chance to meet people working in a range of different jobs and industries is particularly important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds who may have few successful role models of their own, either at home or in their communities. The more we can broaden the aspirations of these pupils, the better’.

As we begin our planning for 2017 we look forward very much to welcoming the Prime Minister and other senior figures joining us for one of our Primary Futures events around the country to see the impact first hand. We look forward to their ongoing support!

Find out more about us on our website



By Steve Iredale

Primary Futures event with UBS

ubs-2Last week saw Inspiring the Future hold another fantastic event as part of our Primary Futures campaign. This time we partnered with UBS on Tuesday 27th September to hold an event for 10-11 year olds in London.

180 Year 6 pupils from schools in Hackney and Islington attended the event, which coincided with the City of London giving day. Two Sheriffs of the Lord Mayor of London, Charles Bowman and Christine Rigden, were amongst the volunteers taking part.

The aim of the event was for children in the run up to the transition from primary to secondary school to find out about the vast range of careers in a company like UBS. This is naturally a daunting move for any child to make so the chance to talk with professionals and find out about the vast career options they could pursue in later life highlighted the wonderful possibilities the future holds.

The pupils and volunteers enjoyed a ‘What’s My Line?’ event. UBS managing directors Paul Graham, Catherine Lenson Darren Allaway, who used to be a professional basketball player and is now involved with the charity London Schools and the Black Child, were on the panel. The volunteers were asked a series of insightful questions by the pupils about the different languages they speak at work and the different countries they visit. This was a fantastic way of encouraging the children to make links between the different skills and interests that can be put to use in a wide range of careers.

The children also took part in a ‘speed career networking’ event where they were able to talk to the volunteers in small groups and ask them more in depth questions about their educational journey and career path.

Thank you to all the schools and volunteers who attended to ensure another great event.

To sign up to volunteer just one hour a year to talk to school children visit


By Steve Iredale

Primary Futures inspires pupils at Moor Park Primary School in Blackpool


Primary Futures teamed up with Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, to host an event at Moor Park Primary School in North Blackpool on Tuesday 27th September 2016.

Following on from the launch of Primary Futures in Blackpool back in June, the aim of the event was to help primary school children in a deprived coastal area see the link between their learning and their futures. Children who can see the relevance of what they are studying are much more likely to achieve as adults.

Events such as these are even more relevant for primary children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have limited role models and often heavily influenced by TV and celebrity culture, are unaware of the vast range of careers they could aspire to.

The Minister came together with 20 other volunteers to talk with the children about their world of work. Amongst the volunteers were representatives from Capgemini, Lancashire Police and 3 apprentices from MBNA attended to represent Bank of America Merrill Lynch and MBNA. This included a ‘What’s My Line?’ event where the pupils asked volunteers questions about what they do. Being given the chance to interact with volunteers from a diverse range of careers made the children aware of jobs they did not previously know existed, broadening their horizons, enthusing their learning and challenging the stereotypes that exist around different jobs. Volunteers also visited separate classrooms, talking to the pupils about the importance of numeracy and literacy.

Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills Robert Halfon said:

“We want every child, regardless of background or ability, to have access to a good education – this includes excellent careers advice, so that young people can go on to fulfil their potential and lead successful lives.

Since its launch, Primary Futures has done a great job in helping primary schools to develop closer links with businesses and professionals so that they can play a role in preparing young people for the world of work.”

In his speech to the Moor Park pupils the Minister encouraged the children to pursue their aspirations, stating:

“If you’ve got the will, if you fight for it, you can do anything you want to do.”

Joanne Magson, Head Teacher Moor Park Primary School said:

“We believe this is a valuable opportunity for the children in our community to experience first hand how their learning links to their future career possibilities. This event will hopefully raise aspirations and inspire our children to want to succeed in their learning and achievements.”

Local Councillor Neil Jack said:

“Blackpool is a town built on entrepreneurial spirit and it is never too early for our young residents to start thinking about what the future might hold for them. I am delighted that so many volunteers have already signed up, I am sure that they will inspire our young people and give them a vital insight into the many wonderful opportunities available to them in Blackpool and Lancashire.”

Moor Park Primary school pupil Kai Rutland, age 10, said he has learnt that “you have to work very hard in school to get the job you want.” Kai would like to be a dog handler in the future and his favourite kind of dog is a husky.

Kai’s classmate Molly Hamilton, age 10, said “some of the jobs I’ve learnt about today I didn’t know were jobs.” Molly is interested in becoming a lawyer and listening to the volunteers speak in her school has taught her “to never give up.”

Volunteer representatives from the following companies were also in attendance:

Blackpool Circus School, Blackpool Council, Blackpool Transport, Capgemini, KPMG, Lancashire Police, MBNA, Prospect Services, Randstad Education, Training 2000 Ltd and VL Lancs

We are delighted to now have over 400 volunteers from Blackpool who have already pledged to give an hour a year to visit a state school and chat to young people about their jobs. The aim now is to double that number  – teachers and volunteers can sign up here:



By Steve Iredale

A great way to end a great school year!

By now all of those of you working so hard in our schools will be somewhere, hopefully exotic, enjoying the sun and a well earned rest. If you haven’t yet got that far at least let’s hope it’s a rest to start with! As we reflect on the progress and development of Primary Futures over the last few months it’s really encouraging to see more and more schools registering and becoming active with over 30,000 willing volunteers waiting for their call.

At the end of last week I had the fantastic opportunity to present Primary Futures, led by the NAHT, to friends from around the globe at an international Employers Engagement Conference in London, supported by two wonderful colleagues from Gunton Primary Academy in Suffolk. Along with other schools in the Reach2 Trust they have worked hard to introduce Primary Futures activities as part of our ongoing research into the impact PF can have on children’s aspirations. The conference was a real opportunity to highlight the importance of raising the aspirations of children in their primary school years using direct input from volunteers from ‘the world of work’. Something that is still missed far too often in my opinion as the focus still seems to be very secondary orientated!

It was massively encouraging to hear Andreas Schleicher (photo below), the Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris referencing Primary Futures and it’s importance in his keynote interview.  This certainly helped to raise interest in our work!

At the conference the Education and Employers charity launched a report on 4 years of Inspiring the Future, which includes primary Futures, the work to date and the impact. It’s great to see the amount of coverage Primary Futures gets in the report. I’ll add a link to the paper when I can find it online! Watch this space!

In the meantime have a great summer and we look forward to working with you next term and beyond. We already have plans for pilot activity in Wales with events in the planning stage in Bolton, Wigan, Lincolnshire, Cambridge and the Republic of Ireland! Time you joined us?


By Steve Iredale

Blackpool launch of Primary Futures. A great day!

Thursday June 16th 2016 saw us launch Primary Futures in Blackpool. We had a fantastic turn out of over 50 volunteers who freely gave of their time to inspire the children across both key stages. The report below is from the Education and Employers website which provides a real flavour of the day. The challenge now will be to see Primary Futures to continue to grow not just in Blackpool but across the whole country. Maybe it’s time you joined us?

Blackpool launched a major national initiative aimed at raising aspirations among primary pupils in struggling coastal areas.

Primary Futures Blackpool launched yesterday at St Nicholas Church of England Primary School. The aim was to help primary-age children see the link and purpose between their learning and opportunities in later life. Children who can see the meaning and relevance of what they are studying are much more likely to achieve.

The Primary Futures Blackpool launch started in the school hall with a number of volunteers taking part in ‘What’s My Line’ where children quizzed volunteers over the jobs they do – see how it works here. After the activity some 45 volunteers visited classrooms and met with small groups of children, they chatted informally and answered questions about their jobs. Children asked the volunteers what is involved in their jobs; for example travelling and meeting people, and how they use subjects such as Maths and English in their everyday work.

The aim was to introduce the children to a wide range of people from different backgrounds doing a variety of jobs.

Speakers at the launch included: Air Vice Marshal Elaine West CBE, the most senior female officer in the Armed Forces; Dame Julia Cleverdon DVCO CBE Vice-President BITC / Teach First; Christine Hodgson, Chairman of Capgemini and the Careers & Enterprise Company; Gordon Marsden MP and John Barnett CBE, High Sheriff of Lancashire.

Many children, especially girls from disadvantaged communities lack the role models they so desperately need. They often have deeply ingrained gender stereotypes as well assumptions about what people from certain backgrounds can achieve, which limits their horizons in life. The importance of tackling this is only just beginning to be recognized. For example the two minute film done by the charity Education and Employers, Redraw the Balance, has been viewed over 18 million times and has attracted interest from governments across the world.

The economic, social and education challenges of Blackpool are well known. According to the 2015 Indices of Deprivation in England, more than a quarter of the population in Blackpool experienced income deprivation last year. Blackpool is currently ranked in the bottom three local authorities in England for educational attainment.

Andy Mellor said “Coastal towns such as Blackpool face a unique mix of education challenges including deprivation, poor attainment, low aspirations, high unemployment and a sense of marginalisation. That is why I and a group of other heads are working together to tackle this. What has made the approach different is that it is led by local head teachers working collaboratively across the area, building on what works and then seeking support from employers and government”

Prime Minister, David Cameron said: Children who understand the link between the world of work and what they learn in school are much more likely to achieve. Primary Futures is a great nationwide initiative developed by the National Association of Head Teachers and charity the Education and Employers. It gets people from different backgrounds doing a wide range of jobs from apprentices to CEOs, archaeologists to zoologists to volunteer an hour of their time to visit local schools across the country and talk to children. It’s a great campaign and one that deserves the widest support”

In February Andy Mellor, Head Teacher of St Nicholas Church of England Primary School, supported by other Head Teachers in the area and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), wrote to business leaders. The ask was a simple one – for employees to volunteer their time in primary schools. As a result 362 people have already signed up ranging from apprentices to CEOs, archaeologists to zoologists via the free on-line matching service Primary Futures. With 28 schools in the area this means 12 volunteers per school.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers sees this as blueprint for other coastal and deprived rural towns across England and is calling on the government to support and adopt this approach. Russell said Many of our coastal towns are high youth unemployment hotspots. Seaside towns have high levels of part-time working, commuters and retired people, all working against young people engaging easily and readily with their local economic community. We need to take action to ensure that young people growing up in our most disadvantaged coastal towns get the best possible start in life, are aware of the breadth of opportunities available and are encouraged and supported in their ambitions”.

Primary Futures has been designed by the NAHT and the charity Education and Employers and makes it quick, free and easy for schools to find local volunteers via an on-line portal. Over 30,000 volunteer have registered nationally and the scheme has attracted interest from over 35 countries.

“It is a real challenge to raise and broaden aspirations of children in deprived coastal areas like Blackpool. We want to turn the tide by tackling low ambition early on. We have run a number of pilot events in individual primary schools in coastal towns including Scarborough and Folkestone. We now want to focus on working with groups of school in a whole coastal area. We hope that the approach being taken in Blackpool will be used as a  blueprint for other parts of the country” said Nick Chambers, Director of Education and Employers. 


By Steve Iredale