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North Tyneside pupils learn what it takes to complete the Great North Run

Paul O’Neil, an Apparel Coach from Nike’s Royal Quays store in North Tyneside, worked with Churchill Community College in Wallsend to help pupils work on a project in which the science curriculum has been taught through the lens of what it takes for a person to complete the Great North Run. 

The project is part of the North East LEP’s Education Challenge programme, working with employers to apply learning to real world context to improve outcomes for students.

Year 7 pupils at Churchill Community College have been working on a project exploring what it takes for a person to complete the Great North Run. They’ve spoken to orthopaedic surgeons about the human body, they’ve met the millionth person to complete the run, and I visited the school to talk about being active and using the right running equipment to help improve performance and prevent injury.

At Nike, one of our founding principles is to help create the future of sport by supporting young people aged 4 to 14. We have a community ambassador at every store and are encouraged to get involved with the community, whether it’s working with schools or providing volunteers at the local Junior parkruns, which we do every Sunday.

This was a great opportunity to speak to the students about running and encourage them to find out more about health and keeping active. We know that children start to make choices about their life when they’re aged about 7, and if they’re active at that age, they’re far more likely to continue to be active throughout their life.

During science lessons, the pupils at Churchill Community College had been learning about nutrition, injury and the human body and I built on this by talking about how the correct equipment can help reduce the risk of injury as well as helping you to keep safe, for example by using reflective equipment at night.

We also discussed factors that help to improve performance for runners and the visit involved hands-on activities for the pupils to take part in. I talked about my role at Nike as well as some of the other careers that exist in the sector such as product design.

The pupils were so engaged and excited and I think they have got a lot out of this project. Some people learn by doing and this way of learning caters to different learning styles, allowing pupils to learn in a hands-on way and see how what they learn in school relates to the world of work and wider life.

I was invited back to the school to see a showcase of the pupils’ work, bringing together everything they’ve learnt, including their own trainer designs, and it was great to see everything they’ve learnt during the project come together.

Paul O’Neil, Apparel Coach, Nike Royal Quays.

Churchill Community College is one of three North East schools taking part in a pilot of project based learning.

Project based learning is designed to make learning in the classroom relevant to the world of work, embed careers information into the curriculum and equip young people with skills for 21st century careers.

It is part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Education Challenge and delivered in partnership with Edge Future Learning. It draws on a model developed by Ford Next Generation Learning in United States who are sharing their experience and expertise.

Find out more about the Education Challenge programme.