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Published 12th Jul 2017

Staff from Northern Skills Group talk to schoolchildren as part of the My Kinda Future event

Schoolchildren from Middlesbrough were recently afforded a school trip with a twist, or maybe that should be a twirl.

Year 9 and 10 students from Unity City Academy and Hollis Academy spent a day at Middlesbrough College’s STEM Centre imagining they worked for a toy company that produced this summer’s craze.

Nearly 20 students were tasked with designing and manufacturing “twirly birds” – a type of paper airplane that falls in a twirling motion.

Under the watchful eye of teachers and staff from Northern Skills Group – the commercial training arm of Middlesbrough College – the children worked in groups and appointed each other roles such as head of production, designer and CEO in fictitious toy companies.

It was all part of an event orchestrated by not-for-profit organisation My Kinda Future through its “Best School Trip” project, and supported by STEM experts at Northern Skills Group.

Megan Campbell, a facilitator for the event, explained: “This project is about bringing schools and industry together to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

“It’s run as part of the three-year, national ‘My Life’ campaign that aims to address skills shortages in maths and physics-based jobs.

“The theme for the day introduces science and maths in an engaging format, and also gives the kids experience of team working as they have to organise themselves as though they were a real company.”

And it wasn’t just the pupils who were learning something as part of the day-long trip.

Accompanying teachers from both schools were given a session on careers advice available through Middlesbrough College, and information about STEM career routes.

Matty Budrewicz, student support worker for Year 9 and 10 at Unity City Academy, said: “This has been a great way to get our pupils thinking about skills that can form the basis of a great career.

“I think it’s especially important as here on Teesside we’re surrounded by the process and manufacturing industries – for which these skills are so important.

“Unity City Academy itself has a big focus on STEM skills and being able to bring our children into the surroundings of Middlesbrough College’s STEM Centre – which is just like being in the heart of those industries – is a great way to inspire them.”

Tia McQuen, 14, from Unity City Academy, said: “I’ve really enjoyed the day – it’s a different type of school trip.”

On July 12 Middlesbrough College is holding a summer guidance event which is open to parents and school leavers who want to find out more about post-school options.

Careers advisors and tutors from the College will be on hand between 3pm-6pm to answer questions about the courses, qualifications and career routes. 

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