Do they feel they belong here?

As any regular reader of my posts will know, my work is underpinned by the theory of developing cultural capital. From the growing research it is becoming increasingly clear that simply teaching children harder is not going to make much difference to what happens to them in later life. Raising their aspirations through widening their knowledge of the world of work most definitely will. That is why I am about to release the first set of resources that allow Primary schools to connect with the world of work in a way that is meaningful to them.

And that is the key.

It has to be meaningful, they have to feel like it is a world in which they could belong. Without that underlying principle the resources would be pointless, at best mildly interesting.

Earlier in the year a school had asked me to work with teachers to help develop their planning to have a more connected feel to the local businesses and also engaging classroom technology. So in that context I was delighted to support the Y1 children from Brambles Primary earlier this week on a visit around Middlesbrough, their home town as a result of the work I had done. Despite being from Middlesbrough, many of the children had rarely been to the town centre and most had not ventured beyond the shopping centres.

The day started with a fantastic tour of the Town Hall with the brilliant guides Liz and Ingrid. We then wandered up Albert Road to the University ensuring we stopped to talk about the Bottle of Notes, Bedford Street artwork, MIMA and the new offices that are ready for new companies. The University bends over backwards to help any projects that I come up with and despite being really busy with a huge Y9 Careers event (which I’m told by my secondary colleagues was fab) they arranged for a guided tour of the incredibly impressive sound stage and a place for the children to eat their packed lunches. Whilst eating I bumped into the ever enthusiastic Steve Dougan who may well have had delegates arriving any minute but he couldn’t resist taking the children up in small groups to the executive boardroom and facilities on the third floor of the Curve. Meanwhile our Student Ambassador guide Georgia went and sourced a huge lecture theatre for us to visit after lunch.

Now tell me what those children think about the University?

Do you think they now have a sense of being welcome and belonging there? Yep you bet they do and these are children who often don’t know anybody who has ever been to University. Getting that belief, a part of their cultural capital, right at such a young age is only going to give them a more positive attitude to the University as they grow older.

Following a tour of the lecture theatres and and some of the new buildings we then guided the children down through Boho to see the future of the town and of course ended at the Transporter Bridge.

Those children felt welcomed at all of the places that they visited, they found out what goes on there and met some of the fantastic people behind the scenes. Their attitudes and dispositions are affected by all of it and in a very positive way.

What the school does to promote Cultural Capital in terms of local history, geography and the world of work is fantastic and a consistent, regular approach is the best way to promoting a positive mindset for the children in their care. The resources I am about to release allow a local feel to aspirations to be discussed and visible in all schools in the Tees Valley all year long. A series of videos behind the scenes of local companies is supported (and led to some extent) by a range of further resources and links that allow schools to delve deeper when they want to. I’ve made integrating the resources really simple so that schools don’t have to make decisions about how they will crowbar it into their already full timetables.

If you are interested please visit the post ‘Behind the scenes of their future

If you would like support in developing your curriculum with engaging technology or a more local feel linked to local places and people, please contact me: