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Tomorrow’s teachers raise primary pupils’ aspirations at Leeds Beckett


Pupils from Girlington Primary School in Bradford have designed a future world for tomorrow with the help of teaching students at Leeds Beckett University.

Children working together at the raising aspirations day

The year six pupils spent a day at Leeds Beckett’s Headingley Campus taking part in the ‘Tomorrow’s World’ activity, devised and run by first year trainee teachers at the University. 

The day began with the students acting out the topic of the day and the problems the children would have to solve: the children were called to a UN convention and asked to help design a future world. They then had to work in roles as architects, scientists and politicians to make a plan for relocation to a new planet.

Children and a Leeds Beckett education student working together at the day

Lisa Stephenson, Senior Lecturer in the Carnegie School of Education, explained: “Our student teachers create bespoke learning days on the University campus throughout the year, with the aim of raising children’s aspirations in terms of coming to university and finding out about careers that might interest them. During the day the students deliver a range of high quality learning experiences which involve solving a problem, usually to help a fictional character linked to the theme. We have been running the programme for five years now, within the local areas of Leeds and Bradford, with all of our undergraduate teaching courses taking part at least once a year. Our students say it is a highlight of their course. 

“The themes, such as ‘Tomorrow’s World’, are immersive and tailored to curriculum topics and the school’s current development plan. For example, last November, we ran an event with Beeston Primary School, who were focusing on the development of their children’s creative writing skills. The day centred around the discovery and mystery of an empty Anglo-Saxon grave. Ninety children from year five explored writing a mystery story linked to this theme, through a range of drama and creative writing experiences. The problem-solving context allows children to showcase their thinking as potential teachers, doctors, scientists, architects and other experts in a playful but focused way.” 

Another important aspect of the learning days is to give the children experience of a University setting, as part of the schools' own programmes of encouraging pupils to aspire to further their education. Between activity sessions, student teachers shared their stories of why they wanted to become teachers and their journeys to university.

A Leeds Beckett education student working with children at the day

Clare Buckley, Year Six Class Teacher at Girlington Primary School, said: “We would like to thank Leeds Beckett for providing such an interesting and well-thought-out day for our children. Our children really enjoyed the day and many have returned to school with the desire to go to university.  The work helped to consolidate their learning and they particularly enjoyed the practical activities.” 

Leeds Beckett student Megan Walker added: “I thoroughly enjoyed my day, and so did the children. It was a good opportunity to teach the class independently and trial out the skills that we have learned.” 

At the end of the day, the students and lecturers joined the children in celebrating the problem-solving and collaborative skills that they brought to the day: skills that are required for study at university level.

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