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Why should teachers care about career learning?

For many young people, their teacher may be the most influential person they encounter. We look at your role for supporting students' careers learning
JOHN HOLMAN: Welcome to this course on linking the STEM curriculum to careers. I’m John Holman, and I’m author of the Gatsby Good Career Guidance Report. Why would a teacher of STEM, which is what I’ve done all of my career, be interested in careers? Like all teachers, I love it when young people want to continue with my subject. But the reality is that STEM subjects can be difficult, or at least perceived to be difficult. So if we can show young people that there are great careers to be had with STEM qualification, that’s a motivation for taking them and persevering with them. And this is part of the whole business of what gets us out of bed in the morning.
Why do we teach? What do we want to get out of it? We want young people to be interested in our subjects. And we want to give them opportunities to go and get good careers and rewarding future lives. And STEM qualifications help you to do that. So this is all part of raising aspirations and increasing social mobility. So back in 2014, the Gatsby Foundation asked me to write a report on good career guidance. This was about career guidance in general, not just STEM subjects. This international study has findings that are relevant to schools and colleges everywhere, not just in the UK.
And I hope that those of you who follow this course will find it valuable both for better STEM teaching and for helping young people towards fulfilled lives. And the truth is, there is no magic bullet. There’s no one thing that you have to do that makes all the difference. You got to be doing all eight. So now the eight benchmarks for good career guidance are part of government policy in England. Now, we tried out these benchmarks in the Northeast of England in 13 schools and three colleges. And we immediately found that the schools and colleges warmed to them, and not just the colleges and schools. It was the employers as well, and the parents, and the teachers across these institutions.
As far as STEM teachers are concerned, I think there’s one benchmark that will be of great interest and great importance. And that’s benchmark 4, which is about linking curriculum learning to careers. This isn’t a new add-on extra thing that you’ve got to do, because the experience that I’ve had all my career, and indeed that we found in the Northeast of England, is that showing young people the careers that they can have from what they’re studying is an important part of good teaching. So it helps you to teach better as well as showing the young people where they could go with a subject.
For many young people, as their teacher, you may be the most influential person they encounter.
You provide the inspirational drive and influence to engage young people with STEM subjects (science, design and technology, engineering, mathematics, computing), raising their aspirations and awareness of the opportunities that exist. In your school or college classroom, you can tackle inequalities, challenge stereotypes and provide the skills needed to adapt to an ever-changing world.
In Linking STEM Curriculum Learning to Careers you will learn how to make small changes to your teaching to embed careers learning, introducing your students to new opportunities and develop their career aspirations. You will also begin to think about the role of employers and industry in your classroom and how you can create rich and long lasting partnerships. Throughout you will hear from teachers and others working to develop young people’s careers learning, with their examples and experiences of linking the curriculum to careers.

The purpose of this course

This course has been developed by the National STEM Learning Centre and supports teachers, schools and colleges working towards the Gatsby Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks. These Benchmarks provide a framework for schools and colleges to embed careers learning, with Benchmark 4 focusing on linking curriculum learning to careers.
Sir John Holman, author of the influential Gatsby Report that has now been adopted as statutory guidance in England, introduces the Benchmarks in the video above.
You can also download a poster for your school or college on the Benchmarks:
Gatsby Benchmarks poster – schools
Gatsby Benchmarks poster – colleges

Course support

This course has been written by Gemma Taylor, D&T, Engineering and Careers lead at the National STEM Learning Centre. The course will be mentored by Liz Painter, between between 2 November – 13 December 2020. To get the most out of this course, you’ll collaborate with other teachers, both in your workplace and with others online, to take the ideas from this course into practice.
We offer a question and answer (Q&A) step in Week 4, to allow you to ask course educators questions about how ideas from the course relate to your teaching context in more detail. See step 4.10.

Learning on this course

Download our Quick Guide to Effective Online CPD, which includes a useful reflection grid to use throughout the course. You can download the reflection grid template to complete each week.
You may find other teachers have similar goals, and you can discuss the ideas in the course with them over the next few weeks.
In the next step you’ll meet the course authors and set your professional development goal.


To start the course, post in the comments below a short introduction to yourself, and share your definition of ‘career learning’ for your subject.

Mark complete

When you complete a step on the course, click Mark as Complete at the bottom right. This helps you keep track of your progress. Mark over 90% of the course steps complete and you’ll be eligible for a Certificate of Achievement and STEM Learning digital badge when you Upgrade. Further details on the final step of the course.
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Linking Curriculum Learning to STEM Careers

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