A total of 536 students from eight schools across the region have discovered careers opportunities and flexed their design muscles in this year’s SEND Enterprise Challenge – competing to take home a prize in a Dragons’ Den-style final.
The pupils, aged 11-24 and all with special educational needs and learning disabilities, met a range of employers and learning establishments including Cleveland Fire Brigade, the Northern School of Art, our local colleges and Stockton’s Arts Centre, ARC, to learn about jobs and career paths.
The event was sponsored by Middlesbrough-based international industrial services firm Altrad, which also set the challenge – to build a vehicle using reclaimed and recycled materials and create a method of communicating the importance of sustainability.
Mentors from the firm, including a number of operations, engineering and project managers were all on hand in schools on Monday to kickstart the week.
The week ended on Friday with an opportunity for the pupils to present their vehicles to a panel of judges from Altrad – including UK Onshore Vice President Karl Bramwell and Lee Tranter, its Operations Manager: North East, Yorkshire and Humberside – with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen awarding trophies to the winners.
They awarded Best Vehicle Design to Beaumont Hill School for the “Beaumont Buggy”, Most Successful Vehicle to Beverley School for the “Rock-et Car”, Most Confident Presenters to Abbey Hill’s Fairfax site for the team “The Scrap Dealers” and Most Impressive Idea went to Catcote School for Team “Wheely Fast”.
TVCA gave a number of awards for collaboration, enthusiasm, communication skills and more.
Mayor Houchen said: “It was a pleasure to meet the students and see all their fantastic responses to the challenge. As we continue to lead the way in the clean energy schemes of the future, sustainability is front and centre of everyone’s minds and it was great that the challenge reflected this.
“Events like these are crucial to give all young people a quality insight into the world of work, get them thinking creatively, applying their skills and discovering new ones, to make sure no-one gets left behind.
“I’d like to congratulate the students for their winning entries and thank all of the schools and organisations that got involved with this valuable programme, as well as Altrad for its support.”
Lisa Greig, CEO of Hartlepool Aspire Trust which operates Catcote Academy, one of the schools involved, said: “We are excited again to be involved in the annual Careers and Enterprise challenge week. Over the previous two years it has been a pleasure to continue to work in partnership with TVCA to ensure SEND students across the Tees Valley are able to showcase their skills and develop their skills for the work of work.
“This year we are honoured to work with Altrad who have provided sponsorships and mentors to ensure the event will be a huge success. This will be the first SEND specific STEAM event across Tees Valley focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. Huge thanks to TVCA and Altrad for ensuring students with SEND are given these amazing opportunities.”
Tony Jester, Altrad’s Executive Vice President of Operations, said: “We are delighted to be able to work with the Tees Valley team to support this very worthwhile STEAM event. These types of events are essential to help develop skills and knowledge in a hands-on way, furthering our young people’s ability to work across disciplines through project-based learning.”
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