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St Michaels Catholic Academy – ‘Youth Challenge Course’ Army 4th Infantry Brigade Day

50 of our students attended an Armed Forces ‘Youth Challenge Course’ delivered by the 4th Infantry Brigade.  The Northeast Headquarters are located at Albemarle Barracks (Alb Bks) in Newcastle. Due to the location, we would not have been able to take our students if it was not for the Tees Valley Combined Authority, which funded a coach to get them there. 

The course provided a series of challenging activities for students to complete, designed to enhance transferable skills like problem solving, listening, resilience, team building and leadership skills. It was also a chance to discover different job opportunities in the Armed Forces and experience a day in the life of a soldier. 

Activities of the day included: 

  • Obstacle Course/Physical Activity. 
  • Artillery Capability Stand. 
  • DCCT (Laser shooting range). 
  • Surveillance Stand. 
  • Army Jobs Brief. 

Gatsby Benchmarks 

The day has supported school with working towards our Careers Gatsby Benchmarks in the following ways. 

Benchmark 5 – for pupils to have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. Students were able to take guidance and learn from real soldiers who are currently serving and active. They were able to watch and reciprocate skills that are needed to be a serving solider and were giving the opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into army life. 

Benchmark 6 – for pupils to have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities and expand their networks. Pupils left the academy and spent the full day that the barracks, which is the workplace of the Army. They worked on activities that showed them what it was like to be a serving solider. 


50 of our students took part in the employer engagement activity with the Armed Forces which gave them a great insight into what it would be like to be a soldier. 

Here are a few staff and student quotes from the day: 

‘The army trip was an awesome experience which I will never forget! My team really bonded over the activities we had to do and the trip taught us resilience and strengthened friendships what will last for life’ – Maddie (Student) 

‘I thought it was good because we put camouflage cream on, went out onto the range and we got to see all the armed vehicles. The staff and the military people were nice, and they let us try on the uniform and let us lift a cannon. They gave us a free bottle, bag, and t-shirt. We were able to try out their radios and thermal goggles and they taught us navigation. It gave me a good look at what it would be like to be in the army’ – James (Student) 

‘The army trip was a great experience. It worked on aspects such as team building, and it gave us experience of what the army would be like. It ranges from jobs in the field to cooks and even engineers’ – Luca (Student) 

‘The army trip helped me work on my team building skills and gave me insight into what working in the army is like’ – Jamie (Student). 

Overall, the students had a fantastic experience whilst learning about different careers within the armed forces and really built on their employability skills.