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Inspiring the Next Generation

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15 staff members from Clarion, including myself, recently volunteered to take part in Leeds Legal Education Week 2012.

This event was organised by Leeds Legal in association with Leeds Ahead and saw over 150 volunteers from law firms across Leeds going back to school in the hopes of inspiring children to start considering their future career ambitions.

The activities for the day were centred around the “World of Work” with each school tailoring the details to fit in with their own curriculum and the ability levels of their pupils. At the school I attended the agenda included:
• trying to think of all the different jobs in a school, then a law firm, then for every letter of the alphabet (which even the adults struggled with!);
• assessing the relevant skills required for different kinds of jobs and then self-evaluating what skills the pupils felt they had and therefore what kind of job they may be suited to;
• looking at how the law affects our everyday lives, from the water regulations allowing us to brush our teeth with clean water in the morning to the various road safety regulations ensuring the kids get to school in once piece;
• and, the grand finale, designing a new trainer including producing a poster advertisement and a Dragon’s Den style product presentation to the rest of the class.

At this point perhaps I should point out that the children in question were aged 10-11 (i.e. years 5-6 of primary school). I have to admit that I initially felt that the planned activities were perhaps slightly over-ambitious for this age range but I soon learned not to underestimate them.

The first surprises came with the alphabetical job list – who knew 10 year olds would be familiar with ventriloquists, quantity surveyors and urologists! Though the cynics out there may think perhaps there was some involvement from the adults here…

What was really impressive though was the product design task. Not only were the children encouraged to consider a USP for their trainer, but also their target market and how they should incorporate this into their branding and advertising. I can’t deny that on occasion these concepts were sidelined in favour of aesthetics (my group opted for flames along the sides and a Union Jack on the front with a “2 cool 4 skool” slogan). However, I found to my surprise that this bias was merely down to the fact that the design aspect was inevitably more fun, and not because the children were in any way struggling to appreciate the wider business concepts involved. Indeed, one group of children designed a unisex trainer and when asked during the Q&A section of their presentation why, one girl replied with total confidence: “it will appeal to more people so will make more profit”. Clearly the next Alan Sugar in the making!

All in all I came away feeling not only that I had done my good deed for the day but more importantly that the children had really benefited from the day. They showed clear understanding of the majority of the topics and most demonstrated a real desire to grow up and enter the working world across a variety of fields (not just football). Who knows, maybe thanks to the volunteers there may even be a few future lawyers in there?
 

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