Knowing where the bar is…..
No not for a drink! The reference is based on the oft heard statement about how we raise the bar for our pupils so that they achieve ever more and greater things. Can’t disagree with that, can we? The problem is that when I work in schools with learners I often find apathy and little idea of what life will hold for them. The irony is that Teesside is a major centre for STEM related industries, world leading in many cases. Speaking to the regional manager for STEMnet recently, I was reminded that many of the jobs that are created through these companies end up going to people not from the area. Marry that with the fact that our region has the highest unemployment rates in the country and you can see the problem. We have some children in most of our schools where they are third generation unemployed. The rise of Teesside University and the growing reputation that it has, particularly within the digital creative arena, is a big help but my contention is that attitude to future employment is developed early and needs to be constantly addressed. STEMnet already have a program of engagement with local secondary schools in the region and organisations like TVU, Esh and PD Ports have outreach programmes in place as well. At Inspire2Learn we aim to support these programmes and in fact extend them across the coming years. I was particularly minded of this when I came across a brilliant event in Astana on Youtube earlier this year. Having worked in NurOrda school in Astana last year, training staff on use of iPads, I had been left with an amazing impression of a vibrant school where the pupils were both talented and highly motivated. Their brilliant Youtube channel regularly posts updates on what is happening in the school and it was the video below that particularly caught my eye:
The event highlights a range of projects that the school (and others) had developed over the year and then presented in the sort of trade fair that many of us are familiar with. I urge everybody to watch the video (and others on their channel www.youtube.com/nurordatv) and see how interested and passionate the students are about their learning. You must also remember that many of these students are presenting in English which may well be their THIRD language. Try asking the average 14 year old in the UK to present something that they have loved in science this year in a third language. The point I’m making is not that the students in the UK are thick and lazy. What I think they need is additional motivation based on aspiration, help with a direction in life; seeing a career in the local industries (in whatever guise) as a real possibility for them. Working with STEMnet and other local partners, I2L are going to put some enthusiasm and drive into bringing industry and schools closer together. We aim to expand the support that is already available and extend it further into the primary schools to help form attitudes at a much younger age. For example, our children need to meet engineers and see them as someone just like them, be inspired by their interest in their work.Show me a nine year old who won’t be impressed by a designer bringing in 3D printed models of product prototypes.
We have an interest meeting for primary schools in mid September to look at programmes of intervention that will help support their curriculum demands and also get real life workers into the classrooms. The secondary program will continue to be run alongside it and hopefully expanded. We also have some key events pencilled in the diary but more on that soon!
I will also be developing the idea of a student expo event next Summer, similar to the one in Astana in the video. Watch this blog for details as they become released or email me if you would like to get involved in the planning: