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Carmel College, Darlington

About the activity

‘The Big Project’

Enterprise Adviser Mike Bowen from Jacobs Engineering, and Carmel College, have come together to work in partnership to create a long-term relationship to drive the STEM agenda and to continually develop new ways to engage with the students within the school. Delivery of this is driven by a three-tier approach of business sector support, expansion and further development of the STEM agenda across the Education Trust, and development of a STEM-based team challenge entitled ‘The Big Project’.

“Working with Jacobs has facilitated a cohesive, dynamic and flexible working partnership between school and business. Fuelled by the vision and integrity of Mike Bowen, this project has reached hundreds of young people and has changed the practice within a large and highly successful secondary school. The whole approach, ethos, culture and practice of this collaboration focus on investing in young people to identify and develop employability skills and to give them meaningful and sustainable experiences of work”.

Sara Crawshaw, Vice Principal of Carmel College

The impact of ‘The Big Project’ and the increasing relationship with Jacobs has been significant and far reaching. The project has empowered young people to engage with Jacobs mentors by:

  • Working on a live project
  • Developing skills of leadership
  • Collaborating
  • Using professional dialogue
  • Innovating
  • Problem solving.

Many students and teachers have reported significant and transformational improvements in concentration, focus and sense of purpose. Students attest that this opportunity helps them to acknowledge and value their academic work and skills they are fostering as young adults. Working with colleagues in industry and business has supported teachers in their understanding of contemporary issues in the world of engineering and influences how their curriculum can be enhanced with modern links to business.

Students have grown in confidence throughout the project and have been exposed to a wealth of new networks. Some students have developed these links to forge work experience opportunities, and to seek mentoring advice on their career options and routes into employment.

Next steps

Jacobs have identified opportunities to engage with the wider business community having presented ‘The Big Project’ to other Enterprise Advisers in the Tees Valley region. Carmel College has also hosted Business Networking events with Jacobs and other companies to improve engagement with a wide variety of businesses and interested parties.

‘The Big Project’ has offered an authentic proximity between work and school and bridges the gap that previously existed. The impact is a more informed and contemporary curriculum with opportunities for meaningful employer encounters and a genuine working relationship between schools and business. The evidence is already present with Carmel Students participating in work experience, with Jacobs, and then returning for further experience in other discipline areas in which they are most interested. The partnership demonstrates the genuine value in this united approach and the influence that Enterprise Advisers can have on promoting careers in STEM organisations.