The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

2 May 2017

Why dreaming is key to raising aspirations

Tim HunterTim Hunter, Director of Learning and New Talent at BAFTA

Ask any child under 10 what they want to be ‘when they grow up’ and the scale of their ambition could give you vertigo – an astronaut, ‘the person that makes Minecraft games’, a marine biologist, a camera operator that travels the world!  Roll forward just a few years and, more than likely, their career aspirations will have become far more pedestrian, as cautious counsel and the ‘reality’ of these competitive fields knock the rocket packs off their dreams.

‘Not for me’

Why?  Whilst it’s very sensible not to walk blindly into a competitive field, teenagers all too often succumb to ‘not for me’ culture.  Our Careers Pathway Survey (Nov, 2012) discovered that over half (57%) of young people have at one time considered working in film, TV or games, yet many abandon their dream because of perceived hurdles.  Over a third of these (39%) then give up because they can’t work out how to get into the industry they dream of, a quarter (24%) don’t think they would ‘fit in’ and nearly half (43%) have been warned off by people telling them there are more people trying to get into creative roles than there are jobs.

Pupil coding

It seems young people are writing off their abilities in subjects too soon; they start absorbing social stereotyping about the kinds of careers that are suited to people from different backgrounds and genders and hear on the grapevine of ‘barriers’ to the career they dreamt of.  The cumulative effect?  They walk away from their childhood aspirations.

Give permission to dream again

At BAFTA we believe that turning back the clock and empowering teenagers to dream again is the key to unleashing their ambition.  Organisations like ours are well placed to inspire young people to see that with careful research, forward planning, hard work and a little support, dreams don’t have to be dreams – they can become a tangible reality.

The UK’s creative industries are now worth £84.1bn to the UK economy, with the creative sector growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy (, Jan 2016).  We need to open young peoples’ eyes to the fact that this phenomenal growth has created a wide range of potential career roles – many of which simply didn’t even exist a decade ago.

There are many roles – such as acting and directing – which remain highly competitive, but the industry is crying out for certain roles, such as production accountants, gaffers and location managers.

Take the games industry.  Today the UK and, in particular, hubs such as Dundee, Brighton and Manchester, have become recognised globally as hotbeds of talent. There are currently 2,044 active video games companies across the UK (UK Games Map, LINK, Oct 2016) – providing thousands of ‘dream’ job roles for young people.  Less than a decade ago, in 2010, 68% of these companies didn’t yet exist (UK Games Map, LINK, Oct, 2016).

So, we need a shift of mindset.  We need to stop young people seeing barriers, hurdles and damaging stereotypes as obstacles they can’t overcome, as there exists huge opportunity.

Instead, we need the avid gamer to realise that their hobby could be the key to an exciting career in one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, we need the creative storyteller to dream again of becoming a screenwriter and we need the child that spends hours in their room sketching to aspire to become one of the world’s greatest costume or stage designers.

Why is dreaming so key?  Because it raises aspirations.  Having a goal can so often provide the spark that reignites a passion for learning.  Crucially, it can also encourage a young person to make the all-important connection between what is taught in the classroom and the skills that are needed in ‘dream’ roles.

One story that really stood out for me is when a colleague of mine spoke with a young man who she met whilst delivering a project in a local school. He had a huge passion for film and television, but his parents were counselling him to pursue a more ‘reliable’ route of accounting. When my colleague pointed out that if he trained to be a production accountant, he would not only be able to combine his passion with the sensible career his parents wanted for him, he would also be entering a field which is in high demand. At this point, she saw the scales lift from his eyes.

It’s the love of these ‘light-bulb moments’ that inspires our year-round BAFTA learning programme.  Our newly created interactive Careers Quiz matches young people’s natural aptitudes, passions and skills with careers in the moving images that they might not even be aware existed, from cinematographers through to make up artists, sound engineers, composers and animators.

Crucially, the quiz then brings these roles to life with footage from inspiring role models.  It also takes away the mystery surrounding entry into this industry by giving a clear indication for each role of the subjects that need to be studied and ways of getting valuable experience.

We’ve also given young people access to the talent behind their favourite films, shows and games at BAFTA Guru, which features freely available videos, podcasts and articles that can be used independently or as inspiring content in the classroom.

And through our annual BAFTA Young Game Designers competition, in association with Nominet Trust, we’ve given young creatives the chance to attend a glittering awards ceremony at BAFTA HQ in London and to win the unique opportunity to have their games ideas developed by top talent in the games industry.

So, who said dreaming was for dreamers?  Maybe it’s time to flip that concept as outdated.  Maybe dreaming is for realists.  For those who want to hold onto and make real the aspirations they had in childhood.

For a wealth of inspiring videos, curriculum linked content, workshops and unique opportunities to help young people dream again, visit: