Winchester is a long way …………… but well worth it!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to share Primary Futures with colleagues from the NAHT South Central Region at a meeting in Winchester. Certainly a long way from home but a very worthwhile experience. I stopped over night with the current NAHT Vice President which broke the journey south. We found a good pub in Northampton to pass the time! The following morning we drove the 100 plus miles through grim traffic around Oxford and Newbury to our destination. Quite how folks do this everyday is beyond me!

The meeting was well attended by colleagues covering a wide variety of LA’s from many different school backgrounds. It was interesting, but I suppose no surprise to hear that the old challenges I used to face are still there! I used Prezi to share and discuss PF which seemed to go down well. During my slot I had the opportunity to highlight a number of key issues which included –

  • Where PF fits into the Inspiring the Future family ;
  • How to use the website to register and for other information;
  • Contacting volunteers – we looked at the 433 currently signed up in Hampshire;
  • What your school events might look like – sharing case studies and events I have observed.

UntitledThere was an encouraging level of enthusiasm and genuine interest which was great to see. I also stressed that whilst high profile PR events to get publicity and media interest are important to the project as whole the real impact is on the ground with children and local volunteers who can do so much to help raise aspirations.

I was also able to share the changes which were made this week to the Inspiring the Future Portal (screenshot on the left) which are highlighted in the letter below sent to all signed up teaching staff.

Dear Teacher,

We are pleased to announce a major upgrade of the technology which powers Primary Futures – Inspiring the Future. This has been done to make it easier for you to find and message volunteers. Many thanks all of you who provided feedback and ideas on how the free service could be improved. If you do have any questions please get in touch by e-mail or phone 020 7566 4880.

We now have over 18,500 volunteers from 5,000 organisations who have already collectively spoken to more than 450,000 young people – and scores of new volunteers are signing up every day.

The upgrade coincides with the publication today of our latest annual review The Review provides updates on our work highlighting the Inspiring Women campaign kindly supported by our key strategic partner Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Also featured is Primary Futures which was launched in partnership with the NAHT in October to help children relate what they are learning in the classroom to the world of work. 1,700 primary schools have already signed up, inviting volunteers to visit and talk to children, helping them to see the relevance of numeracy and literacy and broaden and raise their aspirations.

Primary Futures is part of Inspiring the Future which is free service run by the charity Education and Employers Taskforce. This free service relies on people spreading the word rather than on expensive marketing.

Please can you help us by forwarding this e-mail to another colleague in your or another school who you think might be interested. Or to someone you think might be willing to volunteer for Primary Futures – someone who could give up an hour a year to go into a primary school like yours and talk to children about how their job relates to what happens in the classroom.

Best wishes

Nick Chambers

Please note our new address and phone number

Education and Employers Taskforce
Challoner House
19-21 Clerkenwell Close
London EC1R 0RR

Telephone 0207 566 4880

Email us at:

Follow us: @Edu_employers

By Steve Iredale

Snow falls but Primary Futures never rests!

IMG_2120The best laid plans of mice and men didn’t bargain for this much overnight snow across West and South Yorkshire. It’s certainly very scenic but has the unfortunate habit of getting in the way of work. Dodgy roads and a number of school closures meant that a planned meeting in Barnsley with a federation of three schools was postponed for a couple of weeks. We are working with them planning some Primary Futures activities in the summer term ………… when hopefully the weather improves! A full report will appear in our blog when it happens.

So instead it was a day writing a speech and preparing a presentation on Prezi ahead of speaking engagements in Winchester, Durham, York and Barnsley next month. It’s really encouraging to get so many opportunities to share the Primary Futures message with school leaders, teachers and businesses.

One of the ongoing challenges is to engage with all schools so they can see the potential benefits of using Primary Futures to inspire their children. Sometimes other ‘priorities’ get in the way ……………… as a recently retired headteacher I know that only too well! Whilst speaking engagements and presentations certainly play their part there is no doubt that word of mouth from those who have run an event or series of events is even more powerful. As we continue to build and develop our website we are looking to provide opportunities for schools to share their PF experiences in the very near future, which we hope will inspire others to join us. If you haven’t yet had a look at what we have to offer check out

By Steve Iredale

My first visit to Clerkenwell Close

During the last 18 months or so working with Primary Futures I have become very familiar with the trek from Kings Cross to Holborn, the home of the Education and Employers team, so today it was out of my comfort zone as I wandered into the unchartered territory of Farringdon! Not quite the days of Livingstone’s early expeditions although without my trusty iPad it might have been! EET have moved their base since my last visit and are now how housed in the much more interesting location of Clerkenwell Close. There are some fascinating buildings and some of the local pubs will certainly be worth exploring on a future visit!
Today was mainly about planning the next stage in the development of Primary Futures whilst reflecting on progress made since our national launch in October 2015

It was great to be working not only with the PF team but also to welcome Steven George from NAHT HQ as we discussed a joint communications strategy in order to maximise publicity opportunities to maintain and develop the current high profile of our project. Good to see NAHT being so proactive.
We spent a lot of time looking at the current PF signing up process identifying possible improvements we can make in both the long and short terms. We are really keen to encourage schools to see Primary Futures as more than just a one off event but rather more to see the volunteer database as a year round resource to enhance children’s learning. We are currently looking to find a way for schools who have held PF activities to share their experiences to hopefully encourage others to join up. Learning from each other has become a PF strength.
As the meeting ran its course and the lure of the train north got closer we shared some thinking around a celebration of all things Primary Futures for later this year. There is much work to be done but we do think looking back over 12 months in October 2015 will be valuable. As ever watch this space!
Any thoughts or comments about PF and our now greatly improved, more user friendly website etc are always welcome via this blog or via email to me, Charlotte or Basit – our email addresses are behind the Useful Contacts tab at the topp of the home page. .

By Steve Iredale

Primary Futures in Barnsley

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to share Primary Futures updates with colleagues from my old local authority in a breakfast meeting at the Holiday Inn. The bacon butties as ever were excellent!

It was great to meet up with colleagues, but a touch depressing to see the old problems still impacting in a negative way on schools. Oh for the day when education is no longer a political football! However the gloom was lifted when I shared the Primary Futures video, which you can see by clicking on the About Primary Futures tab, and talked about the launch in October, the impact of some local PF activity  and some of our future plans for 2015.

PF bookletIt was also really encouraging to hear about PF events being planned in Barnsley in the near future using some of the 60 plus volunteers already signed up in the area. During the meeting I also provided copies of a recent publication, ‘A guide for primary school leaders working with employers and volunteers’ which schools seem to be finding useful.

It was very positive hearing from one of the assembled multitude how an Ofsted inspection team spoke highly of a PF style event and noted its positive impact on the children’s attitude to their learning. I think one of our ongoing challenges is to convince some schools that Primary Futures activities really can make a difference to children’s learning and that it is well worth building it into the curriculum as opposed to being part of a one off event. We like a challenge! I was delighted to be invited to work with a group of Barnsley schools in a couple of weeks time as they begin to plan some major PF activity. Exciting times indeed!




By Steve Iredale

Some reflections on our first Primary Futures year

From acorns mighty oaks grow!
Oaks Who would have imagined that our Primary Futures project would have got to where it has after just a few months activity? From the NAHT launch in Birmingham in May to the national launch at Lincoln’s Inn in London in October more schools and volunteers have signed up to join us, recognising the potential for inspiring our primary school children. This is massively encouraging but it is however merely a start. The challenge now is to continue to build momentum into and beyond 2015.

Of course like every iceberg much of what goes on behind the scenes is hidden below the waterline! I have had the great privilege of meeting and working with a great group of colleagues at the Education and Employers Taskforce charity. I think the best description is one of a driven, highly motivated team who focus collectively on the goal of changing the lives of children and young people by raising aspirations and encouraging a can do culture. We have certainly had some challenges and a lot of fun on the journey so far!

I have also been really encouraged as to how positively the NAHT are now embracing Primary Futures, celebrating our early impact but also how keen they are to plan with us for the future. It’s really helpful having a foot in both camps! This a positive partnership which will go from strength to strength.

Looking forward to 2015 is really exciting as we plan more high profile events across the country but also work with schools encouraging them to not only sign up for Primary Futures but to become actively involved. For some schools this might mean one off events but I am keen to push the notion of building the Primary Futures culture into the annual school calendar so it become fully embedded as part of the curriculum across all year groups.IMG_3075

I was asked recently during a radio interview what my vision was for Primary Futures. My response ……. ‘in five year time to see Primary Futures activities impacting in all schools and their children across the country’. Ambitious perhaps but having seen the potential and the impact to date why not!

During the year our blog will provide updates on Primary Futures activity but also provide some lighter moments which working with children always brings! Comments and ideas always welcome!

By Steve Iredale

Primary Futures in Oxfordshire

As the year drew to a close we held another highly successful Primary Futures event at Gateway School, Carterton in Oxfordshire. We had a fantastic welcome from the children and staff and were joined by a stunning array of volunteers from many walks of life including a merchant navy captain, TV producer, RAF Air Vice-Marshal and an Aston Martin engineer. We also had a visit from an Aston Martin Lagonda!

Lord Nash, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, also joined us to see first hand the impact that our Primary Futures project is having in inspiring the next generation. You can find out more about the day by checking out


By Steve Iredale