Businesses from across the Borders and beyond hosted 50 secondary school teachers recently as part of the DYW Borders innovative Teacher Industry Insight Programme.
The ground-breaking project, which was launched in 2017, was developed in recognition that educators are one of the most important influences on a young person’s career choice but there are challenges bringing the world of work into the classroom.
Now in its second year, DYW Borders secured placements for teachers at national organisations such as BAE, the Scottish Prison Service and Edinburgh Airport as well as a varied mix of Borders-based SMEs including The Borders Distillery, Eildon Housing and the Buccleuch Estate.
Sourcing placements relevant to an individual teachers subject and achieving a diverse mix of placements in terms of sector, location and size, is key to the success of the project. Programme Manager, Andrea Hall, said: "The DYW Borders programme is all about bringing together industry and education. We recognise the important role teachers play in supporting young people make career choices; the better informed they are about industry, the better they can support their students”.
80% of teachers go from school to university and then straight into teaching, so they don’t have direct insight into working in industry. The placements provide real world context that exposes teachers to the most up to date industry trends, practices and techniques which can then be brought into lesson planning.
Feedback from teachers to the programme has been unanimously positive. Anne McLeod, Principal Teacher of Sciences at Galashiels Academy, whose placement was with Scotmas (Kelso), said: “Fantastic experience, I learnt a huge amount about the business and routes available to employees. I will be recommending an insight placement to my colleagues.”
Bruce Aitchison, Deputy Head Teacher at Hawick High School, whose placement was at Turnbull & Scott (Hawick), said: “It was a very worthwhile CPD opportunity. It has fuelled me with enthusiasm for making learning more industry specific and also to forge links that will benefit students, teachers and hopefully the business and community in the future”.
It is not only those in education who benefit from the programme; organisations who sign up have an opportunity to increase understanding of their business and showcase career opportunities that are available for the next generation of young professionals.
Turnbull & Scott’s managing director and DYW Borders board member, Peter Murphy, said: “It’s about getting teaches to prepare pupils for the future by exposure and experience. The teacher got the feel for the kind of work young people would be doing and the employability skills required.”
DYW Borders worked in partnership with Prosperity Financial Advisors & Stockbrokers to develop and deliver a pioneering programme to teach financial literacy to secondary school pupils across the Borders.
The ground-breaking programme was the brainchild of the Borders’ youngest Independent Financial Advisor, Mary Hemingway, who left school at the age of 16 with what she calls average GCSEs and initially trained as a plumber. It wasn’t until she moved to the Borders and found work in a local bank that she began to learn about the world of finance.
However, Mary is the first to admit she learned about personal finance by accident and it wasn’t until she noticed a post on Facebook which mocked the lack of financial education in schools that she realised the basic budgeting skills being taught may not be enough.
Mary knew that through her experience she could do something about it. She said: “I was an exception, normally children with poor financial literacy grow into adults with poor financial literacy which leads to less understanding of financial products, poor money management and potential for financial difficulty".
Working with the DYW Borders team, the programme covers Income Tax, National Insurance, Pensions, General Living Expenses and Borrowing.
To date, it has been delivered to pupils at Jedburgh Grammar School, Peebles High School, Eyemouth High School and Selkirk High School.
Many continued: “So far the feedback from staff and pupils has been great. I have especially enjoyed seeing enthusiasm for pension saving at an early age. The majority of my job is pension planning, most of my clients wish they had started earlier and had some form of guidance from a young age!".
Selkirk High School’s S6 pupils could see the benefit of the programme. Roslin Scott said: “The lesson was very informative and eye opening about my future”. While there was surprise from Tom Scott who said: “It was a bit scary how much you have to pay out from what you earn!”
Watch Mary talk through future financial commitments with two Selkirk High School pupils.
As a result of a survey sent by the Developing the Young Workforce team to all Primary Headteachers in the Borders, Edenside Primary School in Kelso responded by asking for support to deliver a careers fair to all 322 pupils in May.
Laura Swanson, Teacher from Edenside, responded to the survey and made an appeal to the programme team to assist with helping apply the Career Educations Standards (3-18) in school.
The Career Education Standard (3-18), set by the Scottish Government, recognises the journeys that children and young people make as they progress from age 3-18, learning about the world of work. It also acknowledges the potential and role of key influencers in these journeys, for example parents and employers.
Throughout the day on the 15th May workshops and presentations were delivered by parents, friends and local businesses who were sourced by the Developing the Young Workforce team.
Primary 1 to 3 pupils kicked things off with a morning of presentations from a variety of professionals who came to the school to talk about a typical day in their respective jobs. The ‘A Day in the Life of…’ session saw an electrician, a doctor, a manufacturer and a podiatrist talk to the eager to learn youngsters.
Next up were the Primary 4 and 5 pupils who were involved in a Question and Answer session with professionals from the fields of social work, agricultural engineering, pharmaceuticals, health care and hospitality. The pupils showed a real interest in finding out more, asking about what their job involves, the hours they work and how much they get paid.
And lastly, the Primary 6 and 7 pupils took part in a market stall session where they had 5 minutes to visit each presenter and discuss what their job involved and ask their own personal questions about studying options and career choices.
When asked about the benefit of the younger pupils’ involvement in the fair, DYW Borders Programme Manager, Andrea Hall, said: “A lot of our focus is, rightly so, on older age school children, especially those in secondary school, but we believe no child is too young to start learning about the world of work.”
Events like this are an essential aspect of the DYW Borders programme, allowing children and young people to develop interests, strengths, skills and aspirations through experiences as part of the curriculum and improving their ability to make informed decisions about future pathways.