Making Things Happen

Primary Pupils Apply For The Head’s Job


Shelthorpe Primary School

When Clare Spence, Headteacher of Shelthorpe Primary School in Loughborough, Leicestershire announced she would be inviting her pupils to apply for the Head’s position, there was some consternation!

But this was an imaginative and innovative approach to teaching employability skills to even her youngest children.

Last year, Clare invited Bright Futures into Shelthorpe to organise a day on Enterprise for all of her pupils. This led to her Year 6 pupils arranging a day-out to the seaside for the whole school and all her pupils being actively involved in raising money to fund this.

This year, following on from the success of the Enterprise programme, Clare decided to invite Bright Futures back again for another day. This time, it was to engage her children in another basic life skill: how to get an employer to say ‘yes’ to you – in other words, how to get a job.

Shelthorpe Primary School

Pupils from Year 1 to Year 6 spent part of the day becoming familiar with employability skills such as how to present yourself at interview and what to put into a letter of application. Afterwards, they received further advice and support from their teachers as they applied for the job of Head of Year and prepared for their interviews. As far as we know, none of the pupils has asked what the starting salary will be – yet!

The student feedback from all the groups was very good. One aspiring applicant had clearly taken the messages to heart:

“I know when I have a job interview it is important to dress smart and make a good first impression – and to have eye contact with Mrs Spence at the interview!”

One teacher added: “My pupils learned about how your appearance and body language influence what people think, and the importance of making a good first impression.”

Shelthorpe Primary School

When it came to the actual interviews the following week, the response was overwhelming. Almost all the pupils applied for the posts. All interviewees dressed smartly for the occasion. And six pupils heard the magic words: “You’re Hired!” Mrs Spence got all the eye contact she wanted!

You can tell how seriously the interview process was taken by the following two comments – one from a Year 4 pupil and the other from a parent:

“I wanted to be chosen so much that I couldn’t sleep. I wanted the position and worked hard to get the letter and the CV just right!” Year 4 child

“My daughter chose her interview outfit by asking to borrow a pencil skirt and accessorise with her sister’s jacket and my beads. She wants to work in a bank and would like to show that she can be smart and tidy and hopefully will be selected for an interview with Mrs Spence.” Mother of a child in Year 4

“On the ‘wear your interview clothes for school’ day, the catwalk involved all of the children, and the unit children were also able to take part. The assembly where they walked up and down the catwalk meant that the adults could get involved too!” Miss Heveran, Creative Curriculum Assistant Head

Mrs Dixon, Deputy Head Teacher, said: “Children were so persuasive that it was hard not to select them to be interviewed… They wrote things like ‘Please don’t let me down, I know that I would be perfect because…’ and ‘The school needs someone like me as the head of year because I have never been in trouble for poor behaviour and would be able to set an example because I have the ability to lead by example’. They were marvellous.”

Matt Watson, Managing Director of Bright Futures, said: “We are often invited into secondary schools to run days on Employability Skills, but this was our first in a primary school. Employers continue to stress the key importance of employability skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving and how to present yourself, and I believe you cannot start too early introducing children and young people to these skills.”

Clare Spence’s observations at the end of the project were as follows:

Clare Spence

“This was a really useful introduction for the pupils to some key work skills. Success at interview – and in life generally – can hinge on a number of ‘soft’ skills such as good manners, enthusiasm, a bright smile, a confident handshake and, of course, good eye contact. The shortlisting process was really difficult. The children’s persuasive writing in the letters of application meant it was difficult to separate them, since the standard was so high.   As a result, we decided that the older children would need an additional deputy head girl and boy additionally for each year group!”

Shelthorpe Primary School
Woodthorpe Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 2NF,
T: 01509 212227
F: 01509 213299

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