Home / Updates / In conversation with… North East LEP chair, Andrew Hodgson, who discusses our Industry Alignment pilot project

In conversation with… North East LEP chair, Andrew Hodgson, who discusses our Industry Alignment pilot project

The North East LEP is recognised as a national leader in careers education policy, pioneering the delivery of the Gatsby Benchmarks for good careers guidance we’ve helped embed in regional schools.

We don’t believe in resting on our laurels and are looking to go one step further to ensure every child in the North East has access to the very best in careers engagement.

As part of this commitment, we’ve looked over the Atlantic to the United States to draw upon the best of their work bringing the classroom and the boardroom closer together.

So it’s especially pleasing to see the impact being made in one regional school in particular by the North East LEP’s Education Challenge.

Pupils aged seven and eight at Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy are spearheading an industry alignment pilot project uniting big business with cutting edge teaching.

The project – piloted by our partner The Edge Foundation education charity – builds on the best of the highly successful Ford Next Generation Learning programme embedded in schools across Nashville, Tennessee, and other US cities.

The US programme run with car manufacturing giant Ford registered great success in both the classroom and the boardroom.

In Newcastle, experts from Virgin Trains East Coast worked with Excelsior Academy primary pupils to teach them about the essential workings of their business and the different skills of its employees needed to run the company.

Project manager Hannah Cummins helped capture the creative spark of youngsters in the classroom, drawing up business plans to underpin the building of solar-powered models.

The final step in the project was to present their plans and models in the main school hall to the project partners, family and friends.

No small task, but one they delivered with great aplomb!

The impact of the project is many fold. Children have been introduced to the professional and personal skills needed to fulfil roles such as in finance, engineering and marketing.

As well as the professional skills, youngsters now know the importance to employers of personal qualities like a positive attitude, resilience, teamwork and self confidence.

Excelsior headteacher Craig Taylor plans to roll out the project to Year 7 and Year 8 pupils from next September.

The project also worked with Future Me – a collaboration between the five North East universities to help raise children’s aspirations further.

The main aim of the Education Challenge is to reduce the gap between the region’s best and lowest performing secondary schools and improve the social mobility of young people.

It’s helping teachers and governors at Excelsior, Norham High in North Shields and Churchill Community College in Wallsend to integrate careers learning into the curriculum. 

The US model is informing our Education Challenge which we hope will be introduced into schools across the country.

A bold ambition, but one that is built on firm foundations with outstanding partner support.

It’s off to a flying start at Excelsior Academy where youngsters are the standard bearers for its success.