Five examples of small changes
Demonstrating how a topic links to real careers and real world contexts can strengthen engagement in learning and promote positive attitudes towards a subject.
Here we look at some small changes which draw on readily accessible resources to incorporate careers into your lessons.
1. Using video clips and job profiles to link curriculum content to a career
Interviews with people in industry, such as those available from BBC Bitesize or iCould can be a great introduction to a lesson or topic. When teaching air-resistance, why not highlight the work of an aerospace engineer?
Mapping different video clips into schemes of work can be a small change that can help embeds careers across your subject. Job profiles from the National Careers Service website can also be used. When teaching compound percentages for example, you could explore National Careers Service job profiles in the financial sector, linking the learning to particular career pathways.
Many sectors have their own mix of STEM resources that can be used in this way, a great example of which is the NHS.
To find more careers resources for your STEM lessons, visit the STEM Learning Careers Resource Page.
2. Keep it local
Are you making the most of the things on your doorstep?
Teasing out personal connections and stories with students can be impactful. Displaying a map of the local area- with industries in relevant sectors marked on- makes a useful reference in lessons, and can often lead to personal links that generate positive discussion in classrooms. For example “My mum works there…”
3. Contextualise the learning
As well as local knowledge, what wider issues are important to your students? Contextualising the curriculum can help learners engage with their learning in the classroom. For example:
- Link global issues to the use of plastics when teaching polymers.
- Explore the rapid growth of the robotics industry when teaching new and emerging technologies.
- Discover the race to develop new antibiotics when teaching aseptic techniques.
- Investigate the challenges and opportunities faced by data scientists when teaching algorithms.
Mapping these links in lesson plans and schemes of learning, then using media (film, TV, video clips, magazine articles, news, blogs) to bring them into the classroom is a great start to embedding this approach.
4. Making use of available expertise
Your school or college will be home to range of professionals, each with their own career pathways to share with young people. Your STEM technicians may be a good starting point. Further information about the importance of this career pathway (in industry as well as education) can be found in Technicians Make it Happen.
Ask colleagues that have worked in industry before education to share their experiences, and articulate to students the transferability of skills and qualifications. Governors and trustees can also provide a fruitful link to local employers and will often be keen to share their knowledge and contacts.
5. Make careers visible
Incorporating careers content into displays and learning material. Displays can highlight themes such as women working in STEM, Nobel Prize winners or alumni of the school who are studying or working in STEM. They can be changed regularly to reflect the wider context of learning drawing upon local, national and global news in the field.
You may be able to set aside a small, accessible area in school or in your classroom dedicated to providing flyers and brochures for study routes linked to your subject. This resource collection has a collection of posters, flyers and leaflets that can be ordered to stock this careers corner of the classroom!
Example: careers wall
In this additional video, Jenny, a science teacher from Tarleton Academy, shows how she’s put together a careers wall for biology and how she uses it during teaching.
This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.
Is there an approach above which you have tried or one you would like to try?
What might potential barriers be and how might these be overcome?
© National STEM Learning Centre