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Nashville success underpins North East Education Challenge

A second North East delegation is visiting schools in Nashville, Tennessee, this week to further learn how a pioneering approach to education in the US is transforming student attainment through industry links.

The Ford Next Generation Learning programme embeds industry knowledge into school curriculum across Nashville and other US cities, equipping students with the skills that modern industry demands.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is leading the delegation to Nashville.

With partners, the LEP will deliver a UK pilot, initially in three North East schools – Excelsior Academy, Newcastle, Norham High and Churchill Community College, both North Tyneside – based on the best elements of the US model.

The North East pilot is in its development stage, ready to be implemented in schools in September. The Education Challenge will embed industry-led projects into lessons and equip young people with the skills employers look for. Its aim is to reduce the gap between the best and lowest performing secondary schools and improve social mobility.

The pilot will be rolled out to further schools and FE in early 2019 with a view to creating a scaleable and replicable model.

Education and industry representatives from Ford Next Generation Learning, USA visited the North East last year to share good practice and reciprocally how schools in our region are already at the forefront of Good Career Guidance, part of the North East’s Strategic Economic Plan

Neil Willis, Project Manager, Education Challenge at the North East LEP, said: “Ford Next Generation Learning informed our innovative approach in the North East

“We are working with regional, national and international partners, building effective relationships between employers and teachers, particularly developing teacher continuous professional development – with teachers spending time in industry co-designing provision.”

In Nashville when employers were effectively engaged within education,, those schools went from being some of the lowest performing schools in the US to some of the highest in terms of attainment and attendance.

Excelsior Academy is one of the first three North East schools working closely with the LEP to introduce the Education Challenge into its classrooms.

Craig Taylor, Excelsior Academy Executive Principal, said: “This could be a significant, potentially transformative project for Excelsior Academy.

“If we are going to continue trying to impact positively on our pupils’ lives, we need to look at what we offer and how we present it to them.”