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TyneMet hailed as an exemplar STEM Assured college

Tyne Metropolitan College has announced that following a review by the national Innovation Council and subsequent recommendation to the STEM Foundation, it has been reaccredited as an ‘exemplar STEM Assured® College’.

In 2012, TyneMet was the first FE College in the North of England to be awarded the STEM Assured® status in recognition of the quality of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics provision by the STEM Foundation.

STEM Assured® is the standard for assuring quality of delivery of STEM education and training. It is an outcomes-based standard, driven by the need to assure a more coherent strategy for the development and delivery of STEM education and training that addresses industry requirements for skills. This reaccreditation highlights TyneMet’s determination to be at the forefront of STEM provision and meet the needs of local and national employers.

Jon Vincent, Principal and Chief Executive at TyneMet College said: “This accolade demonstrates our strategic commitment to developing scientific and technical excellence and commends the efforts, of colleagues, students and partner organisations alike, in helping to create a strong culture and establish TyneMet as a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education.

“At TyneMet, we place an emphasis on pathways to STEM industries in the knowledge that that students studying on STEM related subjects will be in a very strong position when applying to university or for jobs.”

TyneMet was highly commended for its excellent focus on STEM innovation as a strategic differentiator for the whole college and the development of focused employer relationships with companies including Northern PowerGrid, Freeman Hospital, Nestle and Procter & Gamble. The College was also praised for its high quality teaching, with specialist subjects headed up by Technologists and its work with the unemployed, with 46 per cent of participants ending up with employment in the engineering sector.

Prof Sa’ad Medhat, Chief Executive of the UK STEM Foundation said: “TyneMet College is undertaking a key role in transforming their local economy by ensuring its STEM programmes are current and fit for purpose, in supporting the development and growth of businesses in the region. Students can also be assured that the College’s provision will enable them to progress into Higher Education and secure employment.”

TyneMet offers a wide range of vocational courses designed to up-skill and advance both employees and employers across the North East and following a STEM agenda continues to be integral to the College’s growth and development plans.

To find out more, visit www.tynemet.ac.uk. To find out more about STEM Foundation visit www.STEMFoundation.org.uk.

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Transforming careers guidance and the impact on social mobility

Ryan Gibson, Facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at the North East LEP, gives his thoughts on the recent House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility report.

The House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility released a report on Friday 8 April that argued that young people who do not go to university are ‘overlooked and left behind’.

It suggested students leave the education system without the skills necessary for
work and life and more should be done to ‘improve careers guidance and advice for young people’.

Baroness Corston, Chairman of The Select Committee on Social Mobility, was interviewed on BBC News and said “…schools, employers, FE Colleges and LEPs have no means of working together, and they should have.”

Whilst I don’t disagree with the report’s contents or the recommendations outlined by the Committee, I – like many of my colleagues in the North East – were surprised there was no mention of the innovative work the North East LEP is doing with the Gatsby Foundation to transform careers guidance not just here in the region, but across the country.

The North East LEP, in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation, is currently piloting the National Career Benchmarks; eight clearly defined benchmarks for good career guidance, that when implemented, will improve students’ transition from school to work by allowing them to make fully informed decisions about their future.

The eight benchmarks are:

1. A stable careers programme
2. Learning from career and labour market information
3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
5. Encounters with employers and employees
6. Experiences of work places
7. Encounters with further and higher education
8. Personal guidance

The pilot is already moving apace. Only last week we awarded the first of our partner schools funding to begin work on their innovative ideas to improve careers education.

Of the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee Report, I’m proud to say many of these are already being addressed in the North East LEP region.

The need for ‘professional careers guidance that is independent of schools or colleges, delivered face-to-face, helping them to choose their individual routes forward’ is something we’re addressing through the benchmarks, which require schools and colleges to ensure that ‘every student should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a careers adviser…trained to the appropriate level…and be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made…timed to meet individual needs.

Another recommendation from the report is ‘young people need careers education in schools which is embedded into and fits alongside the curriculum and is informed by labour market information.’ Again, this is something we are helping to facilitate in the North East through the Enterprise Adviser initiative, strategically linking business leaders with schools and colleges across the region, in mutually beneficial partnerships, to help bridge the gap between education and the world of work. We already have the support of a number of education and business organisations and the Department for Education are working very closely with us.

There are other key recommendations the Benchmarks are delivering on, including the importance of work experience and our work, here in the North East, suggests there is no single ‘magic bullet’ for transforming this agenda. Rather it is about doing a number of things, identified within the eight benchmarks of good career guidance, doing them consistently, doing them well and doing them for each and every student.

Together with partners in Government, education and the business sector we are hoping to bring about significant change to the quality and delivery of careers education in the England and I’m happy to report the collaboration needed to make this happen is beginning to take place. Whilst there is still work to be done, we are starting to see the indications of impact already.

Ultimately this project is about helping young people make fully informed decisions about their future by better connecting them to information, advice and opportunities so that they can be inspired about their future, improving the pathway to work and delivering business growth. I take it as a positive that here in the North East we are already addressing many of the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee report.

If anyone has any questions about the Gatsby National Career Benchmarks Pilot, please feel free to contact me via [email protected].

Ryan Gibson
Facilitator for the Careers Benchmark Pilot at the North East LEP

To read The Select Committee report on Social Mobility in full, click here.

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Business leaders embedded into schools to drive pupil career success

Successful businessman Gary Burton has joined a Northumberland school’s senior management team creating a powerful alliance to guide the future job prospects of hundreds of pupils.

He is the region’s first Enterprise Advisor – spearheading a North East Local Enterprise Partnership initiative embedding business leaders into secondary schools on a voluntary basis to help teachers shape the delivery of careers education.

Gary, managing director at specialist engineering firm Arefco, is offering his industry expertise as part of the team at the Northumberland Church of England (C of E) Academy’s Ashington campus. He will bring extensive industry knowledge to the school to ensure careers provision for pupils meets business need.

The close working relationship between Arefco – based on the Jubilee Industrial Estate in Ashington – and Northumberland C of E Academy is part of the North East LEP’s wider work to boost economic growth through educational achievement.

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP Chair, said: “The LEP’s Education Challenge is committed to improving business-education links.

“Our ambition is to ensure that every young person in the North East is able to identify routes to a successful working life – with the opportunity from an early age to have exposure to the world of work and meet people along the way who can inspire and motivate them.

“The Enterprise Advisors are a key part of this and we are excited to see the value that they bring. If you are a passionate, successful leader and believe you could inspire the young people of our region, you should absolutely get involved with this project. It is our opportunity as a business community to support our young people and I would encourage you to do so.”

A total of 24 schools from Berwick to Durham have signed up to the Enterprise Advisor Network, each to be allocated a volunteer business leader in their area to work with them on careers development. Together, they are looking to refine the way schools and businesses interact, examine their enterprise strategies and fill any gaps.

Gary said: “We have a very specific need for technical skills and the type of people we need are just not in the shop window for us to employ.

“Through the partnership with the academy, we can identify the right attitude, aptitude and approach pupils will need to successfully develop and progress into sustainable employment – it’s a win-win opportunity.

“Arefco is involved in the project as a business that cares passionately about putting our combined hundreds of years’ worth of knowledge into giving young people a chance to follow their career of choice.”

Steve Gibson, Northumberland C of E Academy Secondary School Principal, accompanied pupils on a tour of Arefco’s factory. He said: “It is vital for schools to work in partnership with employers to ensure that our young people are fully prepared for their future education and careers.”

North East LEP Enterprise Co-ordinator Denis Heaney is leading the project for the region.

“The world of work is changing and this unique programme is an opportunity for businesses like Arefco to be embedded within a school and make a massive difference to students and their future prospects,” said Denis.

“For the first time, business leaders like Gary will sit alongside head teachers and their senior leadership team, to embed careers development, enterprise and employer engagement into the curriculum from Year 7 onwards so it is taught on a daily basis.”

Arefco employs 65 people at its Jubilee Industrial Estate base, having recently expanded with the acquisition of Stephenson Precision Components of Blyth as the next stage in its growth plans.

It manufactures high precision components for the oil and gas, aerospace, defence and renewables sectors, for blue chip companies such as Halliburton, Aker Solutions and GE.

The North East project is part of the national voluntary Enterprise Advisor Network which reflects new Government careers policy. The programme is being co-ordinated at a national level through the Careers and Enterprise Company.