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East Midlands Chamber News

East Midlands Chamber-backed Our Future Derby scheme helps disadvantaged pupils to dream big

An innovative programme aimed at raising aspirations among primary school pupils in seven of Derby’s most deprived wards engaged more than 12,500 children and teachers in its first 18 months, a new report shows.

Our Future Derby, which brought together a unique consortium of education providers and employers including East Midlands Chamber, delivered career-based learning at 32 schools between April 2019 and December 2020, with the goal of expanding opportunities, improving gender equality and enhancing social mobility.

In an evaluation and impact assessment report published last month, it was found that after taking part in activities as part of the £250,000 Government-funded project, 81% of children said they had learned about at least five new jobs.

Meanwhile, 93% agreed that “people like me can do any job they want when they grow up”.

Pieter Eksteen, East Midlands Chamber’s education and business partnerships manager, said: “Our Future Derby is an innovative programme that aims to inspire children and help them see the link between their education and the world of work from an early age.

“It’s all about bringing children, parents, schools, teachers and employers together to plant the seeds of hope and raise pupils’ aspirations for their futures.

“Research shows children’s aspirations are often shaped, moulded, and restricted by gender stereotyping, socio-economic background and the people they meet in their local area.

“We believe that collaboration between schools, families and businesses will help children to gain a better understanding of world of work, the opportunities that are out there and how they can make the most of them.”

What is the Our Future Derby programme?

The Our Future Derby project began in summer 2019 to link children and schools in the seven wards – Abbey, Arboretum, Boulton, Chaddesden, Derwent, Normanton and Sinfin – to the world of work.

Commissioned and funded by the Department for Education’s Opportunity Area Board, the programme works in partnership with 32 primary schools and is led by a partnership including dmh associates, East Midlands Chamber, Education and Employers, Forum Talent Potential and Learn by Design.

Its aims include opening children’s eyes to their future possibilities, enabling teachers to link classroom learning with future employment opportunities, engaging local employers to widen children’s horizons, working with parents and carers to raise their children’s aspirations, and developing employability skills.

By the first lockdown in March 2020, about 320 volunteers from businesses had been recruited by the project to help educational consultancy Learn by Design to deliver career-related learning in classrooms to 7,314 children.

Many activities are interactive and help to broaden children’s horizons of future possibilities, as well as tackle stereotypes about the jobs people can do based on their backgrounds, and to understand the relevance of learning.

The project continues until July 2021, and this year it is rolling out a “My Career Learning Log” to help children record and reflect on what they have learnt while chronicling their future aspirations.

Our Future Derby is raising children’s aspirations about future job prospects

Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, research programme director at dmh associates, conducted the evaluation for the Our Future Derby Report 2020, which found that 68% of children initially indicated the main influencers of their job ideas were from parents or other close family members.

She said: “For children, parents and teachers, the world of work is rapidly changing in light of Covid-19.

“The pandemic has hit Derby city’s economy hard, with major employers announcing big job cuts.

Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE

“Children can’t be what they can’t see – therefore, broadening horizons and raising aspirations from an early age is essential.

“Children have high hopes for their future, but there is evidence from our research programme of unconscious bias and gender stereotyping.

“Derby city primary schools and business links are leading the way in being highly innovative to inspire children to have brighter futures.”

Hannah Evans, a year six teacher at Village Primary Academy in Sunny Hill, Derby, added: “We didn’t understand the impact of career learning at all until it happened.

“We realised from doing the questionnaires that the children had very narrow views when it came to the future.

“So for us, it was about ‘how can we change that?’ and the project gave us that chance. We saw it straight away – the children were really engaged and they loved finding out about new jobs. Seeing their eyes light up was just brilliant.”

For more information about Our Future Derby, visit www.emc-dnl.co.uk/about-us/initiatives-and-programmes/our-future-derby. To read the Our Future Derby Report 2020, click here.

As part of its aim to connect employers in the region with their future workforce, East Midlands Chamber launched the Chamber Schools programme in September 2019, with more than 130 secondary schools signed up for free membership. For more information, visit https://www.emc-dnl.co.uk/chamber-schools/

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