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Finding opportunities with your students

An effective way to link to the curriculum is to draw upon students' interests. Build upon your relationship to tailor teaching to engage them.
SUE: Once you know your pupils, you can then link different parts of the lessons, even if it’s a tiny part of the lesson. I can say, this bit is really relevant for you because you want to do engineering, or whatever they are interested in? So that’s really key. And then there’s obviously, when you get a new class, you don’t know them very well. But there’s always opportunities to put generic careers in. And then, as you get to know them, you can pick them up. So if you do medicine, for example, which is something that will come up, like in Year 10, they have to dissect a heart, and that really sorts the strong from the weak.
And even then, you’ll get pupils, before they do that, going yes, I want to be a doctor, or I want to be a vet. They dissect a heart and then, that’s it. They don’t want to do that anymore. But it’s giving them those opportunities to see what careers are really like, rather than what they see on television, which is like, oh yes; being a doctor would be fantastic. They get paid loads of money, they have that high status. But actually, some of the stuff they have to do, is quite detailed.
NAINA: The main task was the homework tasks that I designed last week for them. And that was based on whatever the recent achievements are that they get at Murray every day. To pick one of that, research on it, based on who invented it, what are the subjects link for it, what degrees they might have done, what impact it’s going to have for future generations. And so, they have been given a whole week to kind of plan that, because they were so enthusiastic. They wanted to do that.
I divided them into groups of three and four and asked them, to have that freedom of choice, to come up with a list of achievements they want to research on, and that might be a potential career for them. I would be asking some of you to come forward and present your research, basically. What you have done and why you have done that. Who invented those things, and why. And what will be the impact of those innovations and inventions, maybe in 50 years time? So they presented quite well today. I was amazed. So they have nicely linked different careers for each of those achievements.
And the whole class got a good idea of what subjects they need to actually pick when they are at school. From this early age, they will have a good idea to guide them for their own future, to find the right pathway for them. And so guys, you’ve researched really well. And the way you have linked different subjects, different degrees, has given, I think, everybody quite a good detail about what kind of career you can choose, what kind of subjects you have to study in order to get to that career. So– At the end of the lesson, we did the Post-it notes activity, in order to consolidate learning, what they have actually taken out from that whole lesson.
So they come up with lots of careers that will nicely link with my next lesson that I’m going to devise for them, to link with careers. That will be more detailed, and I might have to invite people from outside school, as well, to help them even more. Maybe people from those careers, they can come in, talk to them, and give them advice and guidance to help them to choose the right pathway for them.
In this video, Sue and Naina discuss how understanding their students’ interests, and what motivates them, informs the way they teach their subject.
Naina explains a homework task she set her Year 7 students (age 11-12 years). As you watch the video, consider the four areas of practice we highlighted previously: school or college strategy; classroom experiences; employer linked learning; further study and career routes.
This task allowed Naina to get a better understanding of the interests of her students, but also provided them an opportunity to develop their research, group work and presentation skills.
At the end of the lesson, the students shared five careers they would like to find out more about. This is a very quick exit-poll approach that can be repeated to show how students’ awareness of different careers develops.
It’s important to note that this activity is set within the wider context of a departmental approach to careers learning. The information gathered by the teacher through this activity can inform how to link the curriculum to careers, based on student interests.


Early on, students might only share very common careers, or just broad areas of industry.
What should you consider when using this type of evidence to plan links to the curriculum and what would you do, as a teacher, to explore more specific careers?
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