> Huntcliff School, Saltburn

Huntcliff School, Saltburn

About the activity

In September 2017, Huntcliff students began working on the “Future Innovators” project alongside staff from SABIC. The aim of the project was to give the students an insight into the world of work, in the comfort of their classroom.

The project was designed, in part, to plug the gap caused by work experience no longer being compulsory across schools in the UK, so the aim was to bring work experience to the students. With the help and approval of SABIC’s Senior Management Team, and the resource of its communications team, as well as the time of senior engineers, SABIC were able to come up with a project that would help the students understand what life in the world of work is like. Although the project was predominately science based, it was open to students across the school who wanted to boost their confidence and work with one of the world’s largest chemical companies.

The project saw the students answer three questions that SABIC had faced during a significant investment at its Teesside site (the Teesside Gas Cracking Project). The considerable investment enabled SABIC UK to use an alternative feedstock (ethane) in its cracker (Olefins 6) where it makes high value chemicals which go on to be used to produce many of the products  used in our everyday life. The questions were around the furnaces used to crack, the separation of high value chemicals, and finally the storage of chemicals.

Before the project formally began, students were asked to apply. The science department selected 30 students from years 7, 8 and 9, and the project officially launched in October 2017. During the project the students were able to broaden, not only their knowledge, but their confidence. The students were working with different year groups, and people they didn’t know, but that didn’t stop them working together.

During the three projects, SABIC opened up its gates to the school, and the students got the opportunity to come and visit its manufacturing site, where they were shown the Cracker, as well as the LDPE plant. They then got the chance to meet members of the Senior Management Team, and ask questions about their careers.

During the project, the students got the chance to work with several engineers from across SABIC, as well as being able to discuss with them different career alternatives to get into STEM careers. A big point of the project, though, was to show that at SABIC there are many different alternatives, and that to work for a big company like SABIC you don’t have to be an engineer or scientist. This enabled the students to work closely with the communications team, and HR who helped them with the final part of the programme.

Once all the experiments were complete, the students had to come back into SABIC to present all the work they’d done in a PowerPoint-style presentation. Beforehand, the students were given a lesson in “Presenting the SABIC Way” and we were able to use confidence and communication building games to help show them that working together will give them the best chance.

Next steps

In June 2018, the students came into SABIC and presented their findings in their groups, to a panel made up of two SABIC Senior Managers, the school head teacher, and the chair of governors for the school. The quality of the presentations was fantastic and it was a difficult job for SABIC to select only one winning group, who impressed the judging panel with their presentation.

The project wasn’t just a great chance to show the school what SABIC do as an industry, or to sell the industry, it was a great chance to showcase to SABIC just how important these types of engagements are on a wider scale to inspire the next generation to stay, learn and earn right here in Tees Valley!