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In practice

Primary Futures: Connecting schools with workplace volunteers


Primary Futures gives primary school teachers direct access to a very wide range of volunteers from the world of work. Using the innovative state-of-the-art matchmaking technology teachers can very quickly and easily search an online national database of tens of thousands of volunteers and find people that are most suitable to their schools and pupils - from archaeologists to zoologists. There are also a wide range of resources developed and refined over the last nine years for teachers on how best to engage volunteers and children and the activities that have most impact.

Primary Futures was developed with the National Association of Head Teachers, the organisation that represents the majority of primary school leaders in the UK. Nearly 10,000 heads and teachers have registered from 6,500 schools. The programme is currently available in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the UK (including Jersey and the Isle of Man).

Through Primary Futures, schools find volunteers who support the development of children through a range of in-person and online activities, notably interactive career talks or chats and classroom projects which help children to broaden their understanding of the world of work and how it relates to their education.

Published on the 16/05/2023

Launch year2014

Age groupsPrimary (ages under 12)

How many schools are currently making use of it?250+

Other tagsHas been evaluated, Is informed by research, Free of cost

Career developmentEngaging employers, Job fairs & career talks, Preparation & reflection, Work-related learning

TechnologyVideo streaming

CountriesAustralia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Switzerland

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Resource overview

Website: Primary Futures

Teachers invite volunteers to take part in career insight talks (or chats) and fun activities like the Primary Futures 'What's my line’ guessing game which aims to challenge some of the ingrained stereotypical views children (aged 5-11) have about the jobs people do based on their gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background. The Primary Futures activities aim to help raise aspirations, motivate and inspire, improve attainment, and show primary-aged children what is possible beyond what they might be familiar with in their immediate surroundings.

When the programme began volunteers visited in-person, but now they also have the option in taking part in activities virtually through interactive online sessions (video streaming). This also means that schools have access to a much wider range of volunteers from across the country.

Description of technology

The online matchmaking service uses highly bespoke Salesforce Customer Relationship Management software to make it quick and easy for teachers and volunteers to connect. Primary Futures makes use of the Inspiring the Future database (also featured on this site). The online system uses the same technology used by many of the major retailers, online shopping, hotel booking etc. It also incorporates a sophisticated mapping function provided by Ordnance Survey in the UK.

Activities are delivered in-person and via interactive virtual sessions, supported by a range online resources. Schools can instantly search a national database of tens of thousands of volunteers, find people who suit their needs and the needs of their children and get in contact directly. They can search for people living in their area or across the country and narrow down their search by using filters to choose the most suitable volunteers for them: by the sector they work in; the subjects they studied at school or university; if they did an apprenticeship, started their own business or went to university; which languages they speak; of if they can speak about working with a disability.

For more information:

How the resource makes career guidance more effective, efficient and/or equitable for students

All state schools now have instant access to tens of thousands of volunteers from across the country meaning that children can now get to meet a range of role models that previously had not been possible. Research undertaken by Education and Employers, the organisation behind Primary Futures, has shown that children's career aspirations are often based on the jobs their parents/carers do which can set limits of their ambitions for the future. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds often have less access to positive role models and Primary Futures changes this by giving them the chance to meet a wide range of role models. The online technology enables this to be done in an effective and efficient way. Primary Futures enables campaigns that focus on areas of greatest social disadvantage and actively address stereotypical thinking about which careers are suitable for children of different backgrounds.

Because the operating costs of Primary Futures are very low, it is possible to connect high volumes of schools with volunteers. Schools take the initiative and search the database to identify and connect with a volunteer without the need for support from an intermediary.

Challenges or potential barriers to use

It is a model that can and has been replicated by other countries and tailored to meet their education systems for example in New Zealand ( and Switzerland (

The resource is free of cost to practitioners.

Support for users

There are a wide range of resources and guidance provided to help teachers:

Further advice for users

The charity Education and Employers which set up Primary Futures in partnership with the National Association of Head Teachers in the UK is very willing to share with other countries to enable more primary children to benefit.

Additional details

Has the resource been…

Yes or No?



…informed by research?


The Starting Early report shows how learning about work at primary-age has a positive impact on children’s futures and brings together evidence from around the world.

And the Scaling Up report shows that the motivation, confidence, and attainment of primary children are positively impacted when they meet relatable workplace role models, helping children see the opportunities open to them. It is based on detailed responses from 10,000 children in 370 primary schools.

…funded by government?


Four Secretaries of State for Education have taken part in Primary Futures events and the programme has been endorsed by two Prime Ministers.

…recognized by peers?


Primary Futures was developed with, and is actively supported by, the National Association of Head Teachers, the professional body that represents most primary school leaders.



This resource has been endorsed by Welton Primary School in Welton, England.

Disclaimer: This content is provided by the submitting organisation.