Blackpool Aspirations Week …….some reflections!

34032285923_a4d465bfd4_zNow the dust has settled and the schools who joined us for Blackpool Aspirations Week have returned from a well earned half term break it’s time to reflect on the events, all that was achieved and plan for the future!

When we first had the idea of ‘5 schools in 5 days’ building on the success of our Primary Futures launch at St Nicholas C of E Primary School   and a great subsequent event at Moorpark Primary School little did we realise the size of the challenge but also the impact that would be had on the children from all the schools we worked with.

There is no doubt that the drive and leadership of the headteachers and senior staff from Bispham Endowed C of E Primary School, Hawes Side Academy, Stanley Primary School, St John Vianney Catholic Primary and Anchorsholme Academy was a critical element in the success of all that followed. It was great to see how they worked with their staff and members of the Primary Futures team to take a series of ideas based on previous experience and turned them into events and activities to inspire their children and communities. There were also many unsung heroines and heroes working behind the scenes at our partner schools who must not be forgotten …………. the office staff, catering staff and even the car park team to name but a few.

Then there were the volunteers without whom Primary Futures would not exist. It was always going to be a challenge to find enough volunteers from the locality and then encourage them to join us during the week in one or more schools. We ended up with nearly 150 which was stunning! There is something very special about Blackpool, the business community and those who are so keen to give back to the children to provide such inspiration. We even had a some volunteers who joined us every day. Remarkable!

Support from the Education and Employers team based in London was another key element. They were at the end of a phone offering advice and encouragement and also set up the experimental SharePoint to enable us to all monitor the volunteers who were offering their support. This also enabled the schools to make direct contact between themselves and their volunteers using the messaging system, creating relationships which are so important. A volunteer who is fully briefed with full details about the event and their role is one who hopefully will come back for more in the future!

You can check out more about the week and see our photos here

Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Inspiring children and helping to raise their aspirations bringing real relevance to their learning is what we are all about. Did we achieve this? You only have to ask the children for the answer 🙂 Maybe it’s time your school joined us?




By Steve Iredale

Dr Melanie Windridge – Plasma Scientist

On 4th May, I spent the day with L’Oréal Paris and Education & Employers at the The Royal Society meeting some inspiring women in science. It was the launch of a national campaign that will see many more female scientists visiting children in primary schools across the country.

Dr Melanie Windridge In the morning I took part in a ‘What’s My Line Activity?’ where a panel of six volunteers (including me!) were asked questions by the children as they tried to guess each volunteer’s job role.

These activities help young children see first-hand how science can lead to a vast range of exciting opportunities, by giving them the chance to hear from women working in roles which use science. By showcasing our exciting and varied working lives, we can help children understand that science is more than just a lab coat.

I get involved with things like this because I believe that education is so important, but that children need to want to learn to achieve their potential.  Showing them the opportunities out there, how things that they study relate to their everyday lives, and allowing them to meet people who have fulfilling and fascinating jobs can only increase their curiosity and desire to learn.

It’s not just about science either.  I think that being informed about the world and its possibilities in the workplace is essential for students making decisions about their future.  That’s why it is important for adults to go into schools to talk about their jobs, whatever they might be.  There are so many different roles out there, and different ways of living one’s life, that when the students leave school they will still be striking out into the unknown, but at least we can give them glimpses that will impart a sense of direction.


When I was at school I never knew what I wanted to “be” when I grew up.  Fortunately I was able to just follow my interests and see where they took me.  I always loved physics at school, so first I went to Bristol University to study physics and did summer work experience placements in academia.  After a couple of gap years travelling I embarked upon a PhD in fusion energy because I was inspired by solving the energy problem and combatting climate change.  My interest in the bigger picture got me into communicating our work, and now I work as Communications Consultant for fusion start-up Tokamak Energy, and pursue side-line interests of writing books and giving talks – my special interest is combining science with outdoor adventure.

At school, I would never have guessed what I would be doing now, but I was lucky enough to be given insight into things that caught my interest and imagination.  Now we can all help give insight to others coming up behind us.

Sign up at to volunteer an hour a year to help inspire the next generation, and encourage colleagues, friends, relatives, neighbours etc to do the same.

By Steve Iredale

More female role models needed as over half of older teens ready to rule out a career in science

In the wake of new research revealing that over half of older teens are ready to rule out a career in science, we are delighted to announce the latest Inspiring Women campaign, in partnership with L’Oréal: Inspiring Women in Science. This exciting new campaign will encourage female role models to visit local schools and chat to primary aged school children to help inspire the next generation of scientists.

To see all photos from the day, take a look at the Inspiring Women in Science Flickr album.


New research commissioned by L’Oréal has found that an average 55% of 16-18 year-old full time students are not studying science. Of those, more than a third (40%) said it was because they don’t think science would lead to a career they want to do, and just under a third (29%) feel they are no good at science*.

The figures were announced on the 10th anniversary of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Awards, as we unveiled a new partnership with the charity Education and Employers which runs the Inspiring the Future programme.

The UK is still short on female scientists, and L’Oréal believes the key to fixing this problem is bringing inspirational role models into the classroom, particularly at a young age; more than half of students studying science at university say they fell in love with the subject while at primary school.**


When it comes to choosing a career at a later stage, girls are more likely than boys to listen to advice from others, particularly parents (20% vs 16%) and people working in the career they want to do (13% vs 10%).

A separate survey, conducted among parents, indicated that children form opinions of what they’re good at, at a young age; almost three quarters (71%) of parents with primary school-aged children agree their child knows what they are good at, yet one in five (20%) of those parents say they don’t discuss their child’s aspirations for the future.***


Together with L’Oréal we believe it is vital to help young children see first-hand how science can lead to a vast range of exciting opportunities, by giving them the chance to hear from women working in roles which use science. By showcasing their exciting and varied working lives, we can help children understand that science is more than just a lab coat.

As part of the launch today at the Royal Society, 70 primary school children came together with 10 women from the science sector to develop a greater understanding of science careers and make the important link to their in-school learning. The morning event kicked off with a ‘What’s My Line Activity?’ where a panel of six volunteers were asked questions by the children as they tried to guess each volunteers job role. Amongst the many insightful and creative questions put forward were “Do you work with chemicals?”, “Do you work somewhere that is really dark?”, “Do you use goggles?” and “Do you enjoy your jobs?”.


The volunteers then revealed their profession, including a forensic archaeologist, an orthopaedic surgeon and a plasma scientist. This was met with delight and surprise from the children, illustrating the importance of exposing pupils to a range of careers they were not aware of to encourage them to dream big and aim high.

This was followed by ‘speed networking’ where the children were able to talk to the volunteers in small groups, allowing them to discuss the volunteer’s role in more depth and even see examples of some of the activities their jobs entail, including using a bone drill!


Anne Lyons, President of the National Association of Head Teachers said:

“Role models from the world of work can have a big impact on children – they can help them see why the subjects they are studying matter. It also helps to tackle the stereotypes children have from a young age which lead them to think that certain subjects and careers are not for them. We know that children from the age of 5 often stereotype the jobs people do according to their gender – and this is particularly the case in science. That is why we are keen to get more volunteers who work in science to volunteer an hour of their time to visit a local school and chat to young people about their job and career route.”

Nick Chambers, CEO of the charity Education and Employers, which runs Inspiring the Future said:

“Spending time talking to people in a range of professions helps young people to be aware of the wide range of career paths open to them. Yet just 35% of 16-18 year olds surveyed by L’Oréal said that they know someone who works in a science field, and only 14% of parents surveyed work in a science related field. This means most children aren’t having the kinds of conversations that help them form new ideas about their own future.

“At the same time, children from a young age develop often stereotyped views of what kinds of jobs they might want to do – and even that jobs are gendered. But bringing children face-to-face with ‘real scientists’ means they really think about the fact they could one day be for example a meteorologist, a surgeon, or scene of crime officer. And the teaching community believes the same – we’ve found that almost three quarters of primary teachers believe girls are more likely to experience positive impacts from employers’ engagement activities on their academic achievement.”

Vismay Sharma Managing Director of L’Oréal UK & Ireland, said:

“We know that unfortunately, for many, science can be seen as niche and having no connection with the real world, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the things around us, things that we use every day (and can’t live without) owe their very existence to this thing called ‘science’. It is important for us all to work together and find ways to spark the interest of the next generation of scientists. We’re therefore delighted to announce this new and important partnership.

“Today also marks the 10th annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science awards in the UK and Ireland. Together with our fellowship winners and our varied network of professional female scientists that we work with through our partnerships with UNESCO, The Royal Society and The Royal Institution, we hope to foster aspiration and challenge career-based gender stereotypes amongst primary school children.”

The partnership with Inspiring the Future is the latest in L’Oréal UK & Ireland’s range of programmes to promote and support science and help tackle the underrepresentation of women in science-based professions.

Since 2007 the For Women In Science programme has awarded over £500,000 to 42 early career researchers in the UK, with flexibility to use the funds to pay for equipment and apparatus, attendance of international scientific events and child care.

Young people in the UK also have the opportunity to visit the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre (LYSC) at the Royal Institution, which has welcomed over 52,000 7-18 year olds to its modern laboratory since 2009 with hands on activities helping them to think more deeply about science.

A huge thank you to all the amazing women in science who volunteered at this morning’s event, and to the pupils for their inquisitive questions and overall engagement.

From today, we are calling on women working in science up and down the country, to sign up via and volunteer an hour of time talking with primary school children about their job. Sign up to the Women in Science campaign to help inspire the next generation of women in science.

*Based on findings from April 2017 YouGov survey, conducted in April 2017 on behalf of L’Oréal.

**Based on figures from NUS Insight research, conducted in May 2016 on behalf of L’Oréal.

***Based on the combined average score for “strongly agree” and “tend to agree” responses from parents of children aged 5-11 years old.

By Steve Iredale

Primary Futures and Why I Joined- volunteer Charlie Oginni

Hello! My name is Charlie Oginni and I am a Production Runner at Sky News and Sky Entertainment and a Freelance Presenter. However, I wasn’t always a Production Runner at Sky and a Presenter because I was also a young child who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life, plus it would be weird if I was doing these things from birth!

I remember specifically not knowing what I was interested in for a career, I knew I enjoyed communicating with people and entertaining people but I didn’t think there was any career for me. I also had dyslexia as well which left me even more confused. Long story short I took a gap year after my first year of university to ‘find myself’ (well mostly watching Netflix and YouTube). But in this gap year I learned how to think and I mean really think. I used my spare time to write every single thing I thought I was interested in, every school subject and every extra activity outside of school. I also built up a collection of notepads filled with possible ideas and plans of what I could do (one being my YouTube channel) and I quickly discovered that spending time coming up with ideas and plans of positive things to do with your life is not only one the most important things you can do but also one of the most enjoyable and fun things you can do.


I became a volunteer at Primary Futures (part of Inspiring the Future) because this amazing organisation allowed me to venture off to different schools and share this idea with students. Primary Futures allows me to help young people by being able to have an honest chat with the students and talk about issues not normally brought up in class. For example, my last visit with Primary Futures was a really encouraging one for me because I had one of the primary students ask me if she knew what she wanted to be (like for instance an actress) and someone from her class told her she could not do that, what should she say and do? Honestly, from all the questions I had received that was one that really hit home. It hit home because it was something I have dealt with and I’m sure a number of young people go through every day. Being able to tell this young but surprisingly bright student that her opinions and her opinion alone were the most important and that what would make her to be whatever she wanted to be was her opinions of herself and not what others thought was a real winner for me.

I would most certainly urge anyone who has the flair for, the passion and something share to give back to join Inspiring the Future and its Primary Futures campaign so that young people can have more a chance to live out their dreams.

By Steve Iredale

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