Cumbria Aspires is about raising the aspirations of sixth form students in Furness and west Cumbria.
Firstly to inspire students in our partnership to aim towards excellent higher education and apprenticeships and to prepare them well for competitive interviews.
Secondly we aim to strengthen links between our schools and colleges with industry and to expose students to today’s business environment through selective internships and exchange visits.
Conferences held at Rydal Hall – these have aimed to promote competitive universities, especially Cambridge and Oxford, as a realistic aspiration and to help prepare students for competitive interviews.
Sellafield summer internships – these provide an intensive insight into the world of work with a key local employer, much more than a typical work experience placement.
Visit by Professor Sir Tom Blundell in conjunction with GSK – a fantastic opportunity for students to meet a world-renowned scientist and gain an insight into how a scientific career develops as well as to visit GSK and hear about their plans for future developments.
Sixth form colleges and schools with sixth forms (over a wide geographical area from Furness up the west coast of Cumbria to the Solway Firth) have worked together collaboratively through the Cumbria Aspires partnership for the mutual benefit of the students and local industry.
Cumbria Aspires have forged a very successful partnership with Sellafield. This embraces a one-week work placement programme in July 2014. Two earlier programmes were held in 2012 and 2013 but this years is the most professional yet. There will be four upper sixth students involved from two colleges and schools, Barrow Sixth Form College and St Benedicts. Mentoring and work placement are fundamental. Each student will have an individual mentor. The programme is STEM-based. The course organiser, who has put in a significant amount of effort in framing the 2014 programme, is Dr Rob Stein from Sellafield. Hopefully a further work placement scheme can be put in place in 2015.
A group of science students from Netherhall School visited the Indorama plant in February 2013 under the Cumbria Aspires programme. They were given a tour of the polymer facility and a presentation by management. Unfortunately the plant closed in December 2013.
Good relationships have been forged with GSK in Ulverston, particularly their Site Technical Lead, Dr Barrie Cassey. GSK hosted a group of Y13 science students from UVHS and Barrow 6th Form College in September 2013, on the occasion of the visit to Barrow and Furness by Prof Sir Tom Blundell from the University of Cambridge. GSK gave a presentation on their recent biopharm project and the students gave short presentations to the senior managers on topics relevant to a multi-national drugs business. GSK have also been in recent contact with Cumbria Aspires concerning their 2014 Summer vacation work placement opportunities for students and undergraduates.
The Chair of Cumbria Aspires, David Batten, and Stuart Askew met senior HR management at Iggesund, the Swedish owned paper and board manufacturer, in February 2013. We explained the thinking behind Cumbria Aspires. Discussions have continued with Iggesund throughout 2014. It is pleasing to report that Iggesund have now agreed a work placement programme for one week for a lower sixth science student from St Benedicts in August 2014. She has aspirations to go on to university to read chemistry in 2015. We are indebted to Chris Sutcliffe of Iggesund for this opportunity and hope it will be the start of a long term relationship between Iggesund and Cumbria Aspires. Iggesund are notable for their recent investment in a biomass facility for energy production at the Siddick plant.
Over the period 2010-14 discussions have taken place between Cumbria Aspires and a number of other leading manufacturing and logistics concerns in Cumbria, namely BAE Systems, Pirelli, the Port of Workington and Innovia. Whilst progress has not been as extensive as with Sellafield etc, good contacts have been made. With the flourishing of links with Sellafield, Iggesund etc, these may be exploited to greater effect in 2014/15 as well as new business contacts.
We have forged useful links with the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Liverpool University, Aston University and Manchester University.