Inspiring students to dream big

Issue: Volume 100, Number 4

Posted: 8 April 2021
Reference #: 1HAJcX

Inspiring the Future is a programme aimed at showing primary and intermediate students the wide range of study and career options available to them.

Exposing primary school students to the broad range of career possibilities society offers can support a range of curriculum-based learning opportunities and encourage kids to “dream big”, says Auckland principal Lynda Stuart.

May Road School in Mt Roskill is a multicultural school with a high Pacific cohort and growing Māori roll. The school recently took part in a trial of Inspiring the Future, a Tertiary Education Commission programme aimed at showing primary and intermediate students the wide range of study and career options available to them by inviting role models from the working world to talk to students about who they are, their current jobs and the journeys they took to get there. 

Role models “invaluable”

Inspiring the Future is based on a programme from the UK and supported by local research showing that New Zealand children have unconscious career biases and aspire to a very limited range of jobs. To change this, the programme uses community volunteers who come into schools to share their career stories in interactive sessions. Schools register for the programme to access volunteer profiles and invite them to their event.

Lynda says the ability to bring in role models that support the school’s strategic direction was valuable. 

“We looked at role models who would support a variety of conversations and journeys, and people the students could see themselves becoming. It offered them a chance to talk to people they might not know about. It’s important for our kids to know there is a wider group of people out there than they might meet in their day-to-day lives.

“Our school’s parents have great aspirations for their children. Being part of Inspiring the Future gives us access to a broader volunteer base than we can reach directly through our small school community. This is the chance to show our kids they could be a CEO, an archaeologist or a musician. They could follow their passion and be like them [the role models].”

Fit with local curriculum 

Lynda says that the role models talked about many things that fit into the local curriculum. 

“The event provides an opportunity to build further discussions about dreams and goals, and talent and feeling good about yourself, and contributing to your community,” she says.

“The sessions encourage critical thinking, listening, reading, writing and oral skills. There are so many ways of participating and contributing. 

“Events like this show that other people’s lives take many different journeys and directions. These people persevered. The concept of service is a big thing for this community, so it’s important to hear how values like respect, service and resilience make you a contributing person.”

Ongoing learning platform

Inspiring the Future is also a platform for ongoing learning and a chance to reflect upon shared experiences, says Lynda. 

“They are conversations we can build on as teachers. When working something through, such as a learning or behaviour issue, we can use the things the children have said and heard as prompts and reflections.”

It’s the kind of thing she would definitely like to do again. 

“We have to encourage our children to dream big. If we can embed that sense of hope and support and opportunity, we’ll be in a better place. One event doesn’t do it all but it helps us to have those conversations.”

Schools can find out more at link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:45 am, 8 April 2021

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