Futurum teacher focus group – let’s chat!

Maggie McWilliams and Sophie Capron taking part in Futurum’s teacher focus group, October 2023 (photo credit: Futurum Careers)

At Futurum Careers, we pride ourselves in producing free resources that help teachers to motivate students. We know teachers are incredibly busy, and we design our resources with the intention of supporting them in the invaluable work that they do. But it has been a while since we had the chance to spend quality time with teachers to ask them what they think of our resources. So, on an autumnal Saturday morning, in a cafe somewhere in the southwest of the UK, we met a group of teachers and got chatting over coffee.

What do teachers like about our resources, and how are they using them?

Julie, a university lecturer, and Adrian, a KS4 (grades 9 & 10) and KS5 (grades 11 & 12) teacher, kicked off our discussion. Immediately, they highlighted the organised and contemporary look of Futurum brochures. Adrian likes our articles for extension and enrichment tasks for his students, adding he is happy for his learners to use them independently. Julie particularly likes how the articles emphasise the researchers’ passion and innovation as a way to raise students’ aspirations and encourage them to read more academic articles.

Maggie McWilliams and Sophie Capron taking part in Futurum’s teacher focus group, October 2023 (photo credit: Futurum Careers)

Jen, a KS3 (grades 6 to 8) to KS4 teacher and school leadership team member, told us her school is dedicating tutor times to preparing their year 10 (grade 9) students to apply for and ready themselves for work experience placements. Teaching at a school that has reading as a priority – for both academic skills and reading for pleasure –, Jen sees Futurum resources as helping teachers to meet both aims, providing students with knowledge of careers and stimulating reading materials.

Sophie (KS3 and KS4) explained the expectation of her as a subject teacher to link her subject to careers and to provide appropriate resources for her students to learn more. Maggie, a KS3 to KS5 teacher with experience of leading careers, sees the benefits of our resources for enabling teachers to meet this need (as set out by the Gatsby Benchmarks in the UK).

All our teachers highlighted the challenging content of our brochures. Our resources aim to get students thinking at a deep level and to consider the wider implications of the research and field they focus on. Some students may need more teacher support than others to work through our articles; the activity sheet ‘talking points’ provide a good tool for students to consolidate their learning and for teachers to assess their students’ understanding.

Words such as ‘engaging’, ‘stretching’ and ‘versatile’ peppered our conversation, and it was agreed that Futurum resources can be used in subject classrooms, tutor time, PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education), careers sessions and at home. But, we are as self-reflective and ambitious as we want students to be, and we needed productive criticism…

What could we be doing better?

Maggie and Sophie were concerned about accessibility, telling us our font size was too small. Yes, our Pdf articles can be zoomed in on when read online, but what if students do not realise that, and what if our overall design could benefit from an adjustment? We have listened, and from issue 25 of Futurum onwards, you will notice a slight font increase in our articles – subtle enough to ensure the content of our resources is not affected, but significant enough to remove the ‘density’ our teachers were apprehensive about.

Julie emphasised how useful PowerPoints are for teachers – sometimes, a brochure is not quite the right format for the teaching and learning taking place. A fair point and one we are pleased to be addressing with our growing library of resources to add to our brochures. The range of Futurum podcasts, careers PowerPoints, animations and translations is increasing all the time – and it is important we keep telling you about them!

Join the conversation

From assemblies to online quizzes, from alumni visits to work experience placements, it was great to hear from our teachers about the range of careers activities going on in schools. And, of course, hugely rewarding to hear how Futurum is playing its part.

We would love to hear about how careers are taught in your school and how you are using Futurum resources with your students. Drop us a line below and let us know.

Let’s keep chatting!

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