Primary pupils will be offered careers advice and be encouraged to run their own mini-businesses as part of a £6 million plan to transform education across the city.
The ideas are linked to Stoke-on-Trent’s status as an ‘opportunity area’, which will trigger extra Government investment over the next three years.
Now its delivery plan has been published, containing a series of steps to raise standards in the classroom, instil aspirations in young people and close the gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better-off peers.
The focus on improving the quality of careers guidance will see employers target children as young as nine and 10. It could involve workers going into schools to give youngsters an insight into their own jobs and the qualifications they needed. And there could be a primary version of the popular young enterprise scheme too.
Organisations already keen to help develop young people’s employability skills include Adecco, Michelin and the NHS trust running Royal Stoke University Hospital.
Professor Liz Barnes, vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University, is jointly chairing the board overseeing the developments. She said: “This offers us an opportunity to really make a difference.”
Other priorities in the plan announced today include:
- Improving support for children in nursery and reception to help build their speech and language;
- Offering more training for teachers to raise standards in English, maths and science, with a particular focus on key stage two;
- Providing an additional £2 million worth of enrichment and ‘life skills’ activities to young people throughout the school week, at weekends and during the holidays. Cultural and sports groups are expected to bid to run some of these projects, which could include music and drama productions and even painting and sculpture sessions.
The Government has picked Stoke-on-Trent as one of 12 opportunity areas across England – all identified as social mobility blackspots. The aim is to use them to trial new ways of raising achievement and also give them priority access to other grants for research and teaching innovation.
Newly-appointed Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “I want all children to get a truly world-class education that not only inspires them to make the most of their lives, but also gives them the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions, no matter where they live.”
It comes as the Government has also announced the latest projects to benefit from the Strategic School Improvement Fund.
One of them – thought to be worth £500,000 – will involve 12 schools in Stoke-on-Trent and 18 schools in Staffordshire County Council’s area. Their staff will be working with a local teaching school, which will lay on training sessions to help them bring literacy to life in the classroom.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, welcomed both announcements today.
She said: “This shows confidence in our ability to deliver real changes for young people in Stoke-on-Trent. It will make a significant contribution to raise social mobility for our city’s children.”