Bring It On 2.0

5e31da22-7595-4962-8fdf-a334c15301cb-1344-0000011e1a389657_fileWhat a fabulous two days we have had! Around 3000 pupils from hundreds of schools across the NE descended on the new Beacon of Light in Sunderland to discover what an exciting place the NE is for engineering. Over 60 employers ranging from huge companies like Komatsu down to small but perfectly formed Games companies have sent staff and activities to what is the biggest event of its kind in the area, possibly the UK. As many of you will know Inspire2Learn have been involved with Bring It On since the beginning. We see it as an amazing flagship event which complements our year round programme brilliantly. Day 1 was primary day followed by KS3 on Day 2. We streamed live for both days as a stop gap but with these sort of events we really wanted to showcase the engagement from both the employers and the pupils. Below are some of the videos that we created to show why such events are so important. Talking about skills gaps and lack of awareness is an important first step to solving the problem, however, we seem to have been talking about it for a very long time. The research is becoming clearer by the day to structure how to tackle the problem and events like this fit that mould perfectly. If you weren’t here for either of these days you really shouldn’t miss out next year!

See what you are missing!

Day 1

And on to Day 2. What do the employers think?

What did our disengaged teenagers think? Can’t seem to spot many hiding behind the obvious enthusiasm…

I’m pretty sure the future is in exceptional hands…



STEM Boats

Another day, another new activity! Today we have had two schools trying out the new STEM Boats event. The pupils are given a basic boat and some ‘river test tracks’ and time to work out the best design to make their boat the most efficient. We are using wind….er….fan….power today so one of the variables that they have been focusing on is the size of the sail. Number of masts, shape of sail, height of sail etc are also areas that some of the pupils have been focusing on to achieve the best result.

We began the day focussing on control of variables so that we can test what effect each change makes but we also have an expectation that the designers amongst the children will also add a bit of design bling too.

The day will end in sail boat races with the ultimate winners crowned our September champions.

Here is what it looks like on the ground:

Going Loco!

Another week, another great group of pupils from three of our Tees Valley Schools. Today is the first full scale version of Locomaths. The pupils have been challenged as HS2 style engineers who must work out cost effective, but socially and environmentally acceptable, routes across a typical landscape. Although some guidance has been given and clear costings rules, the aim of today is very much at developing teamwork to achieve a challenge. It has been clear to see that different groups have attempted the work in different ways, assigning different roles within each team. The task employs some pretty hefty contextual maths issues alongside effective use of persuasive language, a pitch if you like, based on the evidence that they collect whilst planning and researching. The HS2 website has been a really useful source of information for the considerations that must be taken into account.

Final presentations will be posted here at the end of the day but for now…

The video of their presentations is taking a while to upload along with some of the presentations they sent me. But when they appear they will be below with more pics from the day:

It’s back! Scrapheap Sept 2018

Another school year and another scrapheap challenge. Nearly a hundred pupils are here today taking on this year’s challenge for the first time. We hold these events every month and if you would love to come the bad news is that we are fully booked until July!

But back to today and the pupils from five schools across the Tees Valley are already implementing their planning and their creations are starting to take shape. As usual they will be presenting their work at around 2.05pm this afternoon live to this blog. But for now here are some pics from this morning:

And the pace became even more frantic after lunch, both building and refining the models but also creating and presenting the presentations that we will see below after 2.05pm

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!