Tees Valley is the best in the North….apparently!

Well that is what our award says!

Last year we were grateful to receive some funding to upscale our programme reaching pupils across the Tees Valley. Our focus was employer engagement to raise aspirations and showcase skills and attitudes that pupils will need in the world of work. It was very successful and fit beautifully with our wider programme that starts with primary schools and works upwards. The growing body of research in this area strongly suggests that a sustained and systematic programme of engagement and activity through a school career starting with our youngest learners has measurable results on children’s future earning potential. If I know something statistically increases my child’s earning potential when they are older I will be first in line….and we are trying to provide it for EVERY child in the Tees Valley. Official figures I read today show clearly that there are plenty of job opportunities in the area and that wages are rising here at a faster rate than nationally. So we need to get all our children engaged in why they they go to school and what the possibilities are for them in later life. Local businesses and organisations have been brilliant in supporting this over the last few years and more join in every week. They need to. We only worked with about 10 000 pupils last year and there are nearly 100 000 in the Tees Valley. Even factoring in the great work people like High Tide, Princes’ Trust, NYBEP etc do, we are all barely touching the sides and the research shows that it is the authentic contact with employability skills and employers that makes the long term difference.

So we were very proud that in July we were awarded ‘Best Provider in the North 2018‘ by the Careers and Enterprise Company. Their remit is to shape and deliver the government’s Careers Strategy and for us to be named the best provider north of about Derby was a great accolade. But of course it isn’t enough, we need to do more and today we published our events guide for this year 2018/19. Schools got sight of it just before the holidays and many events are already booked up until July with some schools on waiting lists. We will be looking to run extra sessions as the year progresses. But we need the helps of individuals, companies and organisations to ensure that the pupils get authentic experiences. Short talks about what you do all day, support at a scrapheap challenge where pupils build future tech, leading STEM activities that we provide to enthuse and encourage….these are just examples of things that you could get involved in. We don’t just leave you in a room with a bunch of children! We help you develop a session if you would like us to, we supervise the sessions that you lead or support, we keep you up to date with any changes to the programme and we feed you really well! If you would like to leave our centre with a beaming grin, a sense of making a difference and a piece of cake in a napkin then please get in touch. It is noticeable how many companies have agreed to support just one event with one member of staff and ended up coming back again and again in greater numbers. The knock on effect for staff development has been noted time and again.

So if you would like to take part in something please have a quick glance at this.

And then look in more detail at what each session entails here.

I can’t wait to hear from you:



Start your engines…er…again!

It is a bright sunny morning on the Quayside in Newcastle as another day of activities surrounding the Great Exhibition of the North get ready to gear up. If you haven’t already been please take the opportunity to visit some of the amazing opportunities that will be running in the area throughout the Summer and early September.

Why is Inspire2Learn so interested today? Well we have 18 cars from the Tees Valley, many of which were built in our centre, competing in a one off Greenpower race day. Many competed at Croft last week but today is more of an exhibition event to showcase the amazing work of the Greenpower Trust. I spent yesterday at a national event where the focus was on how schools are responding to the government’s careers strategy. Ensuring pupils get experience of team working, problem solving and working on a defined project were key skills that were identified as important to any business for potential employees. Show me a better example than. building an electric racing car, designing the bodywork and racing it at events. It is just one example though of the multitude of experiences that schools can offer their pupils and our brochure of events for next year will almost certainly be hitting inboxes by tomorrow at the latest so that involvement in Greenpower is just one aspect of a school’s provision.

But today, let’s enjoy the racing. Live streaming including race footage and hopefully interviews should begin here around 10am and will last as long as we have power!

Celebrating Teachers

As many of you may know the RCTTP based in our Centre works closely with local schools to develop a whole new cohort of bright eyed and bushy tailed teachers every year. Rated Outstanding by OFSTED and recognised as one of the leading teacher training providers in England, the retention rate from previous years is still above 90%. This is a huge support to our local schools and contributes to some of the amazing success that we see locally in education; continuity of well trained staff that are born within our local school environments.

So tonight is the annual Graduation for our latest batch of teachers, all of whom have passed this year’s course. Below is the livestream if you are unable to attend but would like to see it either live or at your leisure.

GreenPower Electric Car Race Day Live from Croft Circuit

What an amazing day we have had at Croft racing circuit. We had Goblin and F24 racing on different parts of the site and due to our involvement with the Goblins this post will focus on them.  9 of the 15 cars we have helped support were able to attend today and despite many worried emails in the last few weeks all of them came ready to race. Well except one who came to build! And build they did with the help of 5 fantastic students from Kings Academy. Thanks to their help the car is now ready to race next week as part of the Great Exhibition of the North.

But back to today. The live streams below hopefully show the fantastic range of schools form all across the North East who took part. It is very clear from watching the children, by chatting to them, their teachers and their parents, this project has had a profound effect on confidence, motivation and self esteem. Not everyone is a driver, a pusher or a mechanic. St Therese of Lisieux brought a whole class who had been involved in work on the car in one form or another and it was lovely to see parents turn up as well. So very well done everyone, feel free to scrub through the streams below to see if I inter=viewed your team or filmed your slalom. The final stream includes the long race at the end round the whole circuit which was genuinely nail biting at the end. I also have the car numbers and the winners of each prize from Greenpower. When I get chance in the next few hours I will post them along with some additional pictures. Streams are below for now though.

Roll on Newcastle next week….

So, hot off the press, we had 24 teams racing today and awards were given out not just for their performance on the track but also:

Best Presented Car: St Joseph’s Hartlepool

Best Bodywork: Hartburn Primary School

Greenest Bodywork: Skerne Park Academy

Spirit of Greenpower: RGS

Portfolio: Normanby Primary School

Track results…


1st Barton C of E

2nd Rosewood Academy

3rd Roseberry Academy

Drag race

1st Mowden (Mobile)

2nd St Joseph’s Hartlepool

3rd Dame Allan’s Junior Team 1

Sprint Race

1st Roseberry Academy

2nd Moden (Mayhem)

3rd St Joseph’s Hartlepool

And the overall winner across all competition is….

St Joseph’s Hartlepool

Huge congratulations to them. It might be cheesy to say but everyone was a winner today. The enthusiasm, excitement, skills and attitudes that you could see from EVERY team, EVERY school and EVERY child confirmed for me why we put so much effort into helping support the teams. Events like this will stay with those children all of their lives.





Planning the Future

A massive thanks to the Y10 students from King’s Academy who spent the day here trialling one of next year’s events. Without giving too much away they attempted a logistical planning task that will be differentiated to target a range of age groups at an appropriate level. King’s did the full fat, big maths version which required embedding their mathematical understanding into a real world situation and making ethical dec visions that they could justify.

The result?

The feedback from this event will help to ensure that the task is better structured and achievable when we run it from September. And on that note, we should have the dates out very soon….

Greenpower Day 2: Ready to Race

IMG_2549After a full on Day 1 all of the cars have the main body built and many also have 4 wheels attached. As I type several schools have already arrived and are getting straight back on task.  Hopefully by lunchtime several cars will be ready for an installation run along our temporary track. As with yesterday we will livestream the event during the day but we will also try and squeeze in some live interviews at some point too. We also have exciting news this morning that we will be supporting both the Croft event on 26th June and the Great Exhibition of the North event in July where the cars will be racing. We should have live interviews and possibly a running live feed for some of the day too. Seeing these cars being put together so expertly with the help of Mike and the Greenpower volunteers is amazing. If you would like to support in any way, even by just dropping in to see what is happening, please let us know.

The race track awaits…


Today’s livestream:

And some live interviews:

And our first test runs:

A time lapse of the build days:

Well done to everyone involved today. Not every car got to the point of a test run but most weren’t far off. I think the pics below show the sense of achievement with those that did though!

Greenpower: Start our engines!!!

IMG_2513Yes it is finally here! Fourteen Tees Valley schools took the offer of a heavily subsidised opportunity to take possession of an electric racing car that they will build and then race around Croft and Newcastle Quayside as part of the Great Exhibition of the North. They have two build days here at Inspire2Learn  and then will complete bodywork back in school before the first race trials in June. We have a live feed all day for both days and will constantly upload images to complement.

Massive thanks to Greenpower, The Reece Foundation and CSI for making this possible both financially and logistically.

Just popped back in after setting up a VR system at a school and look at the progress that  has been made already!

Looking for animation week?

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 21.23.33Well, like the poetry work before you, this is not the right place.

We created the Creative Den to celebrate culturally focussed work that schools take part in. In fact, if you would like your creative work in school celebrated, please contact us to upload some pictures and information. We know that this builds self esteem and confidence for pupils enormously, give it a go, it certainly doesn’t hurt!

So to access our wonderful creative work in schools, click below:



Stockton Entrepreneurs?

img_2221It was lovely to welcome three schools from Stockton LA to the centre today. White House, The Glebe and Roseberry Primaries came as a single group to take on our Enterprise Challenge. Enterprise skills cover a huge range of different areas but we focussed today on using effective teamwork, creativity and audience analysis to underpin our ‘Dad LEGO set’ task. After identifying key techniques that are used in adverts, the children then created their own product based on value propositions they had identified for the target audience. As usual the audience was focussed on me, well, ‘Dads, Uncles, Teachers’ about my age. Focussing their products appropriately is always a challenge and the dialogue to keep them focussed on a different point of view is essential. The teachers were a great support for the children with this. It takes time to develop the ability to see things from a radically different point of view and this was just their first attempt in this way.

As you can see from the pics below the children really got stuck in and it was lovely to see them using members of other groups to create the adverts that you will see below around 3pm!

You are in the wrong place!

IMG_2061Looking for Michael?

Read on…

Many of you may not be aware of the exciting new home for all things cultural and educational in the Tees Valley. One of the fundamental aims of this website is to celebrate achievements by pupils and help build their self esteem. We know this is a cornerstone of a successful mindset. We also know that there are loads of amazing events, interactions and initiatives going on between schools, colleges and the cultural sector. So, working with many of the organisations in the Tees Valley who do this on a regular basis, we have created a new home that celebrates those achievements and also informs other schools of what they could be doing to help develop a broad and balanced cultural offer to their pupils.

It is called the Creative Den and can be found by clicking on the icon below:

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 21.33.14

If you have done anything involving the arts that you would like to see celebrated to a wider audience, please contact us and we will be happy to include it on the site. We know that celebrating children’s work in this wider context has a much bigger impact on their self esteem than just through school channels. We do expect all safeguards are in place in terms of who is included though!

Contact us: astogdale@inspire2learn.org.uk

Today’s fantastic poetry launch pics and video featuring Michael Rosen and pupils from  over 40 of our schools can be found there.