Students from the Farnborough Academy in Clifton have be3n given a rare opportunity to get a close-up view of the world of aviation.
It’s all thanks to a two-year-long employability project launched by the school in partnership with East Midlands Airport, aimed at getting pupils excited about the world of work and fired up to study harder.
A group of 14-year-olds from Farnborough were taken on a tour of the airfield, including a minibus drive down the runway and the chance to get hands on at the airport’s fire station.
It was the fifth of six visits the year 10 students are making to the airport over the course of this academic year.
During the visits they’ve been given a unique look behind the scenes at the airport, witnessing different sides of the business and learning about the jobs they could aspire to.
They’ve been into the air control tower and quizzed air traffic controllers, done a retail challenge where they had to make business cases to the airport’s managers for new business ideas which could be launched in the terminal building and will soon be creating their own challenging customer service role play scenarios.
Clare Watson, deputy head at Farnborough, said: “The project has been transformational for our pupils.
“We have seen the children grow in confidence before our eyes and importantly develop key employability skills such as leadership, teamwork and resilience.
“Its enabled our pupils to look at the wider world of work and interact with employees from different sectors of the airport.
“There has been significant impact on each individual child from improving attendance, reducing negative incidents in school and raising aspirations for the future.”
At the start of their second year some of the pupils will do a full week of work experience at the airport.
They will also all be given the opportunity to have a personal mentor from the airport’s senior management team, who will meet with them at regular intervals throughout year 11.
Demi Mae Stokes is one of the students taking part. She said: “It’s given me a greater insight into how a large organisation works and I was able to link this to how a school is kind of like a business where the teachers support the pupils to be successful.
“I used to be easily distracted and thought I was always right but the project has helped me develop my listening skills and have more respect for other people’s opinions.
“Its also helped me with my confidence and speaking to new people.”
Fourteen-year-old Daniel Fletcher says the airport visits have had a big impact on his career ambitions. He explained: “Our trip to the air traffic control tower and meeting the staff there made me realise that this was exactly what I wanted to do.
“Having first-hand experience of seeing them working and all the equipment involved was something I wouldn’t have been able to experience without the project.
“I now know the process of becoming an air traffic controller and the route I need to take. I now have a goal to aim for and I am fully focussed in achieving this.”
East Midlands Airport has committed to running the scheme with future groups of students from Farnborough and the school has also secured interest from other local employers, such as Nottingham Trent University, British Gypsum, Nottingham Crowne Plaza Hotel and Land Rover, to offer pupils similar experiences within their businesses.
Ms Watson added: “The drip feed effect, where students get a whole a series of experiences over a longer period of time, is a lot more valuable than traditional work experience or an employer coming into school to do a presentation. It takes time for the pupils to really imagine themselves being in these roles.”