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Schools Tackle Big, Big Business Challenges in Project Final

The final of a scheme to develop young people’s skills and engage them with future careers has seen judges crown Laurence Jackson School as the winners.

The fourth annual Big Big Project kicked off in November last year, with teams from 11 schools from right across the region competing to tackle a business challenge around achieving Net Zero.

Through two knockout rounds and the final, students were tasked with creating a presentation on how they would make their towns Net Zero by 2050, identifying the main causes of greenhouse gases and setting out a plan detailing the measures they would take to cut carbon. The final also saw them create a promotional campaign to get residents and businesses on board.

The Big Big Project is delivered in partnership with global technical consultancy firm Jacobs, which has a base in Stockton-on-Tees. It is supported with additional assistance from the DWP and Darlington-based consultancy firm Achieving Change.

The programme aims to develop communication, confidence, leadership, teamwork, resilience and problem-solving skills, all vital to succeed in the world of work.

Judges included representatives from FujiFilm Biosynth Technologies, Teesside University, Department for Work and Pensions and CPI, with further firms such as Balfour Beatty, Atkins Global and Faithful & Gould serving as business mentors, supporting the teams through each round.

Egglescliffe School & Sixth Form College, Laurence Jackson School and Outwood Academy Bydales reached the final, with Laurence Jackson scooping the prize.

Judges said that they had conducted detailed research and compiled data on the causes of climate change and then used this to inform their field research with the public in Guisborough. Their recommendations for improvements were designed to have the maximum impact on their local town’s journey to Net Zero and the judges felt that they had followed the brief set by the Big Big Project in an impressive and engaging manner.

Helen Mitchinson, Careers Education Coordinator at the school, said: “Taking part in the Big Big Project has been an amazing opportunity for our students who were initially very wary of presenting in front of one member of staff, never mind 100 people in a professional setting. As a group of students from year 8 to year 10, I have seen their confidence, presentation skills and how they have worked together as a team blossom, and I am so proud for them to win the award at the final this year. This saw them work on how to reduce Net Zero by 2050, which they are now very passionate about, and are looking forward to working on related projects in the future.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “With the region setting the Net Zero agenda with mammoth projects such as Net Zero Teesside at Teesworks, there’s no doubt that this is where the careers of the future are headed, enabling our young people to Stay Local and Go Far. Whether it’s working directly in the sector or to make other industries cleaner, these issues will play a major part in businesses of all types.

“It’s great, then, that these students got a head-start in thinking about decarbonisation and putting together plans and presentations, all the while improving their own skills which are crucial to any successful career.

“Congratulations to the students at Laurence Jackson School for deservedly scooping the top prize, and thanks to everyone who had a hand in giving pupils insight into the broad and exciting career choices right here, right now.”

Mike Bowen, Jacobs’ Senior Associate Director, said: “Jacobs is delighted to again be spearheading The Big Big Project in partnership with the Tees Valley Combined Authority. It’s clear to see from today’s presentations that the students have worked exceptionally hard to grasp an understanding of the Net Zero agenda and we hope that through participating this year we will enthuse and inform local students to make smart choices and challenge themselves to create solutions for our future. The ripple effect of their actions will impact positively on climate change, with some hopefully taking that one step further and considering an employment opportunity in the growing Net Zero sector in the region.

“At Jacobs, we are committed to working to address the national skills gap and events like The Big Big Project really help to inform students of their pathways and options.”

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