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Teacher perspectives: making employer engagement fit within your curriculum

Teachers explain how project-based work and classroom activities involving employees from industry can support student learning.
SUE: We’re working with different agencies to get careers embedded into our schemes of work. And this is one for year 11, to be able to explain Fleming’s left-hand rule, which is just a really random concept of how motors work, and pupils are always saying, “I don’t really understand, what’s the point”. So when I first discussed it with Tim Taylor, who’s our careers guide– I’m quite into my music, my festivals, so I was just like, let’s do something with some music company. So we got together with Sound Perspective, and they made us a video.
And they had to overcome the barriers of, obviously, where to put the speakers so they weren’t too close to damage pupils’– to the spectators’ hearing, they weren’t too far away, thinking about echoes, and the fact that it was an inside venue rather than an outside venue. So they made us a video for our pupils to choose their own venue and to overcome those problems. So that’s what our pupils did. So this is an example of one. They call their company 90th Minute because they are putting speakers into Wembley Stadium. So firstly, they had to explain how a speaker works, using the left-hand rule, because that’s an important part of our curriculum.
And they then linked it to– we also learn about waves, so how sound travels, throughout that sound travelling, the fact they’d have to think about reflection. so echoes of the sound, whether Wembley’s roof was over or closed? So they had two different ways to think about it. We talked about diffraction as well. Because obviously, depending where the speaker was, it would have to diffract around people, posts. Yes, and then this group got all this done so quickly, they also then linked it to the fact that they were going to have solar panels on their speakers, so they would provide their own energy. So therefore, they were an energy-efficient company as well.
So from one little project, they actually linked a lot of different science concepts into it, and they just loved it. They spent their lunchtimes in my room doing extra work just to make their project. And then the man from Sound Perspective is going to come in a couple of Mondays. Our groups are going to present it to them, and then he’s going to choose the best couple, and then they’re going to go to his company and see what he actually does in the real world rather than just in the classroom. We covered the theory first, so I did my normal lesson on speakers.
And then I just dedicated a couple of lessons after that for them to work on their project. It gave them the time beforehand to do with the extra research, so like this company– this group did the solar panels and things. And then, because the pupils were engaged, they did use their own time. So pupils were doing stuff after school, at lunchtime, to give it to them. And to be fair, last year when I taught speakers, I only did it in one lesson.
But then I had to keep going back to it, and back to it because they didn’t understand, where this year, I don’t think I’ll have that problem because they’ve all got how a speaker works because it’s been embedded during this project.
EMMA: How we’ve started in maths, with linking careers with our lessons, we’ve made a connection with the local building society. So we’ve made a connection with Skipton Building Society, and we have one of their employees. She’s come in. She’s delivered workshops to all our students. So we initially started off with year ten and year eight, so she came in and she did a money management session with year ten. And then she did just a money awareness session with year eight. We then expanded that to year nine and year seven, and what we found a really key link to the curriculum with year nine was, we were looking at best buys.
So that’s obviously a type of question that comes up at students’ examinations where they have to compare different– which is better value for money. So she came in with some real-world examples from Tesco and all offers that they’ve put on, and some of the students were absolutely astounded that they could only save five pence on a buy two for one pound fifty offer. And so that really kind of linked up to how businesses obviously increase their profits, and how they get people into their stores to buy their offers. And obviously if they buy two of something, they’re going to make more money than if a person buys one of something.
So that was a really, really nice link for year nine.
Working with employers can have a profound impact on pupils learning and in some cases, may be the key to helping them make informed decisions about their future. For those pupils with lower social capital, working with a range of employers through different opportunities can impact positively on social mobility.
“Once you find out what a scientist actually does, or discover all of the different ways in which you can be a scientist, you may find it easier to imagine yourself into that role. Employers can give an authentic picture of work that schools alone can never convey, but they need to work in close collaboration with schools.” (Sir John Holman, Gatsby Foundation)
Embedding careers in the curriculum is not about simply bringing a professional into a classroom and delivering a talk.
In the video above, teachers show how their activities with employers had clear links to the curriculum, requiring detailed planning and discussion with those outside of school. Sue provides an example of how a local sound engineering company set a challenge for students to demonstrate their understanding in physics. Emma explains how a local bank has contributed workshops for different age groups in Year 8 (12-13 years old), Year 9 (13-14 years old) and Year 10 (14-15 years) students.


Choose a curriculum topic that you think would benefit from working with an employer or STEM Ambassador. Perhaps there is a part of your curriculum that students often struggle to engage with or maybe there is an area that you think needs further contextualising?
What support might an employer be able to provide you? At this point, we are just looking for a couple of sentences outlining an idea.
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Linking Curriculum Learning to STEM Careers

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