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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Ex-pupils return to school to raise apprenticeship profile

PUPILS at St Benedict’s School have received a glowing endorsement of apprenticeships – from a group of apprentices themselves.

Earlier this month, St Benedict’s welcomed a team of eight from Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Ltd (BBESL) who spent half a day working with a group of Year 9 pupils.

The apprentices, six of them ex-pupils, were undertaking the Brathay Apprentice Challenge, in which they finished in third place, against Rolls Royce, Virgin Media, Cobham, MBDA, Bentley, National Apprenticeship Scheme and the Co-op.

As part of the ‘Raising the Profile of Apprenticeships’ element of the challenge, the apprentices undertook a number of different events including a Robot Dance, the school’s own Godfather Project and the talk to pupils.

The apprentices discussed and endorsed apprenticeships in the workshop, in which they explained and described the advantages of the scheme and recalled why they became apprentices.

Fifty-six pupils who are thinking of going into an apprenticeship programme were split into groups of seven for the first, second and third year apprentices to share their experiences.

Thomas Hyland, a third year apprentice at BBESL, said: “Attending this event was an excellent opportunity to meet a range of pupils that are seeking advice on developing their skills into the engineering environment.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the day, in particular responding to the pupils’ interesting questions.”

Meanwhile, six Year 13 students from St Benedict’s who are aspiring to attend Oxford or Cambridge visited Sellafield for an overview of Thorp and a site tour, viewing major developments en route.

Ryan Doran, Kyle Hannah, James Barlow, Jake Edmonds, Luke Bounds and John Thinnesen were accompanied by Mandy Pattinson, the school’s STEM support officer, and local businessman Stuart Askew, who is the secretary of the Cumbria Aspires Working Group, which links together a number of secondary schools across the county.

Claire Tipper, head of Sellafield’s HR, explained how their HR directorate are working on a pilot to provide work experience with students who are applying to Oxbridge, to give them some credible work experience prior to starting university.

The school says that good links are being established with local employers to encourage Oxbridge graduates back to Cumbria on graduation.

The visit to site gave the students an awareness of Sellafield and the kind of pioneering work that takes place there.

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