Nick Boles, minister of state jointly for the department for business, innovation and skills and the department for education, has given public support to the Yes Programme, the UK’s first education resource that links the key stage two curriculum to the ‘real’ world. Its aim is to open children’s eyes from an early age to the wide variety of careers they can aspire to and to eliminate the question ‘Why am I learning this?’ from their vocabulary by showing them how the skills they are learning are used in a variety of jobs.
In an open letter to the Yes Programme’s founder, Sonita Alleyne OBE, Boles says: ‘I am (therefore) happy to support this innovative solution offered by the Yes Programme, which aligns with the inspiration agenda. By linking the learning environment and school syllabus with the world of work, young people will be better supported in recognising their potential, and choosing a career path that best suits their interests and skills … I wish everyone involved great success in this venture.’
The Yes Programme comprises a bank of career-related films featuring clips with people from a diverse array of occupations, ages and ethnic backgrounds, with each video linked closely to national curriculum topics. They include a drummer using fractions, a referee explaining the difference between fact and opinion, a computer games designer using simple algebra and a radiographer describing how to use magnets. Discussion points, activities and related links are also included with the video materials to help teachers explore topics in depth.
With unemployment amongst 16-24-year-olds standing at almost 17 percent, the Yes Programme’s ultimate goal is to get more children to be asked to interview for a relevant career and end up on the ‘yes pile’, so getting a chance in life.
Alleyne comments: ‘Working closely with teachers, we set out to create a resource that put their teaching in context while providing children with something empowering and engaging in their careers education. We believe that the Yes Programme plugs a gap in careers education and Nick Boles’s words of support mean a great deal to us. They are a recognition that we are offering something that can make a real difference to young people’s lives – inspiring and motivating them to find fulfilling and sustainable careers.’
The government is placing increased importance around careers education, launching its inspiration vision (September 2013) and also announcing a new government-funded careers company at the end of 2014. Both these initiatives look to foster stronger links between schools and businesses, particularly amongst secondary schools, but there is increasing recognition of the value of providing better careers resource across children’s entire schooling.
The Yes Programme, created in conjunction with teachers, was launched in January 2013 and has been accessed regularly by over 30,000 primary learners in over 500 schools across the UK. The programme has also been highlighted in Lord Young’s report in June 2014 – ‘Enterprise for all: the relevance of enterprise in education’ – as a high-quality enterprise and careers inspiration tool in the battle to help young people increase their employment prospects.