Pupils explore their next steps at careers fair

006 Jodie (L) and Millie (R) at the careers fair

Hundreds of pupils from schools across Blackpool attended a two-day careers fair held at the Pleasure Beach last week.

Students were able to pick up information from a broad range of industry areas, including the next steps they would need to take after their studies.

Organised by Blackpool Community Guidance, the year 8 and 9 pupils also had access to training providers, and representatives from colleges, universities and professional bodies to discuss their different career options. Exhibitors included Blackpool Pleasure Beach, British Aerospace, Marine Engineering, Sainsbury’s, Lancaster University and Teacher Training.

The annual ‘Our Future, Our Choice’ event aims to ensure that young people understand the link between success in school and their future career.

Sponsored by the Blackpool Opportunity Area, Blackpool Sixth Form, Blackpool and The Fylde College and Education Business Partnership (NW), the guidance event is now in its twelfth year of helping students understand more about their career options and what they need to achieve their goals.

David Brennand, who helped to organise the event, said: “This event is designed to inspire and aspire young people and help them make positive decisions about their futures.

“It is a great way to make the link between the curriculum and the careers for the future and to give so many pupils a chance to talk to inspiring industry experts which will help them prepare for their next steps.

“I would like to thank all the businesses and sponsors for getting involved and hope that this event can continue for many years to come.”

With access to interactive stations across three floors of the Pleasure Beach, the students were able to get hands on experience from many of the different industry sectors.

Jodie, 12, from Highfield Leadership Academy, said: “It is worthwhile being here as it can help you to pick your career. There’s lots of different stands and the people are really helpful. I think that I want to be a detective within the police but I am open to other things.”

Millie, also 12 from Highfield, said: “I am into hairdressing and this is what I’d like to do in the future. I went to the hair and beauty stand and was able to practice on a doll’s head.”

Robert Owen, Director of Marketing, Sales and PR at the Pleasure Beach, said: “We are very proud to have hosted this event for so many years. It’s great that we can use our venue to help local year 8 and 9 students start to think about their career options.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “This inspiring event provides a fantastic opportunity for the young people in our community to access high quality careers information, advice and guidance, as they start thinking about their futures.

“There are a huge range of opportunities available to them, and it’s essential that we continue to help them aspire to dream big and then work with them to help them reach their goals.

“Events like these give young people in Blackpool a chance to learn about employers, higher education and apprenticeships, and businesses within the local area and to make informed decisions about their future careers.”

New literacy campaign is on the hunt for the town’s top 100 kids’ books

100 Reads

Get Blackpool Reading from the National Literacy Trust, Blackpool Council and Blackpool Opportunity Area, is collating a list of Blackpool’s favourite children’s stories to encourage reading for pleasure across the town.

Pupils at all 33 primary schools in Blackpool are being asked to nominate their favourite children’s book as part of an initiative from Get Blackpool Reading – a new literacy-focused campaign launching on 25 February.

Blackpool’s 100 Reads is a town-wide activity to motivate more children to enjoy reading and read more widely, by inspiring them to try books that have been recommended by their peers.

Each primary school in Blackpool will receive a pack including teacher top tips to promote the 100 Reads activity in the classroom and a set of postcards where pupils can submit their top three favourite books for the list. The three Blackpool schools that submit the highest number of suggestions will each receive 100 new books each.

Local residents are also invited to share their favourite children’s book through a submission form on the Get Blackpool Reading website, using #GetBlackpoolReading on social media or emailing getblackpoolreading@literacytrust.org.uk by the deadline of Friday 6 March.

Get Blackpool Reading is a new community-driven campaign led by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Blackpool Council and the Blackpool Opportunity Area. Officially launching at the end of February, the campaign will work with local partners, schools and businesses to promote reading for pleasure among children and families and give them the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

It comes as more than half (58%) of disadvantaged 11-year-olds in Blackpool left primary school unable to read well. Just 48% of pupils achieved a grade C or above in both English and maths at GCSE in 2018, compared to the national average of 63%.

The printed Blackpool 100 Reads list will be found in libraries across the town later in the spring in the form of a bespoke height chart. A downloadable version will be available at getblackpoolreading.org.uk.

Paul McNally, Get Blackpool Reading’s Campaign Manager, said: “Creating a list of Blackpool’s top 100 Reads will not only inspire hundreds of local children and families to discover new books, but also create a buzz around the new Get Blackpool Reading campaign and the exciting literacy-focused activities to come. We know that when children choose books to read outside the classroom for just 10 minutes every day, their mental wellbeing improves and they achieve more at school.”

Mark Rayner, Blackpool Opportunity Area Delivery Lead, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the National Literacy Trust as part of the Get Blackpool Reading 100 Reads initiative. Being able to read and communicate well are essential ingredients to doing well in school and preparing for the world of work, and creating a fun and inspiring list will take us one step closer to that goal. We’re looking forward to finding out which stories will be included.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “We welcome any scheme that brings families together and develops a shared love of reading. Ensuring children read, write and count well early is key to their success at school and in life. That’s why it’s really important that we ask families to get involved in this campaign to help instil a love of books from a young age.

“This campaign will help everybody to get in to reading, which is a really important skill, and develop the literacy skills that children need to succeed.”

To find out more about the Get Blackpool Reading campaign, please visit getblackpoolreading.org.uk.

Students win work experience of a lifetime

Photo of work experience winners

There can be few better entries in a fashion journalist’s CV than working on Elle UK.

Yet that’s exactly what’s in store for three Blackpool and The Fylde College students after they won a competition to shadow the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Farrah Storr, at the magazine’s London headquarters.

Farrah was hosting a series of presentations at the Park Road campus when she revealed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

English students Rebecca Gilder and Amy Steel, and Fashion Design’s Josh Harris, won the chance to learn all about fashion journalism at Elle UK’s Canary Wharf offices after completing writing assignments about modern fashion and culture.

Farrah set the challenge while visiting B&FC as part of nationwide research by the Social Mobility Commission into 21st century challenges facing young people.

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “We’re determined to give the best possible education to every single child, no matter what their background, needs or issues.

“Work experience is a vital part of that as it can play an important role in career development as well as provide students with an opportunity to learn transferable skills, build confidence and use academic learning in the workplace.

“Having the chance to put their existing skills into practice alongside developing and enhancing new ones is invaluable.

“I am sure that Josh, Rebecca and Amy will make the most of the opportunity and see the value and satisfaction that you can get out of work.”

£18m extension to Opportunity Area programme

£18 million announced to extend the Opportunity Area programme to support social mobility in some of the most disadvantaged areas.

Receiving Help In Lessons

Young people in some of the most disadvantaged parts of England are set to benefit from an extra £18 million investment to build on improvements in educational outcomes, careers advice and attracting teachers.

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today announced the Government’s Opportunity Areas (OA) programme will be extended for an additional year, building on its success so far in areas of the country where children have for too long been left behind.

The programme is also showing impact in a wide range of areas from early years education to employment, following an initial £72 million boost for interventions across literacy, maths, attendance, teacher training and recruitment, post-16 options and careers advice since its launch in 2017.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I grew up in Scarborough, now part of the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area, and having returned recently for a visit I’ve seen for myself the progress being made and the difference it is making to young people living there.

“Ability is evenly spread across the country, but opportunity isn’t. We’re determined to put right the wrongs of places left behind and see the Opportunity Area programme grow – helping local leaders and schools to tackle some of the greatest challenges young people face.

“It’s not just about what happens now in these 12 areas but the impact these projects will have on future generations and paving the way for them to overcome obstacles to success.”

The programme has been operating in 12 Opportunity Areas across the country – Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, North Yorkshire Coast, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

Areas were chosen because they face some of the most entrenched obstacles to social mobility and were set up to improve outcomes and increase opportunities for all young people in these areas.

Across all the Opportunity Areas around 60,000 young people have also been given the chance to develop life skills like resilience, teamwork, problem-solving, confidence and leadership thanks to a share of the £22 million Essential Life Skills programme.

Today’s funding extends the programme into a fourth year, which will run until August 2021, to help sustain long term improvements and outcomes.

Elle UK editor Farrah Storr offers work experience for college students

B&FC students with FarrahImage credit: Nadine Ellis

Talented students are competing to swap Blackpool’s bright lights for city skyscrapers – and work alongside one of the UK’s biggest names in journalism.

Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief of Elle UK, revealed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while visiting Blackpool and The Fylde College’s University Centre this week. Students now have to write a report for a competition to win the London trip.

Salford-born Farrah was in Blackpool to share her career experiences with a masterclass for students on telling their story.

Her visit was part of a north west tour with the Social Mobility Commission to look at improving opportunities for young people living in some of the most deprived areas of the country.

Blackpool is one of 12 Opportunity Areas identified by the Department for Education to improve education standards and help youngsters achieve their potential. 

Farrah’s inspirational talk provided the students with an opportunity to learn about the world of journalism and what it takes to succeed.

She explained: “Growing up in Salford, I never thought a career in journalism was a possibility.

“The creative industries have always been so heavily weighted in London that coming from the north west felt like an enormous disadvantage.

“While it’s true that I had to move away to become a journalist I don’t believe geography is still the enormous barrier it once was.

“To get a break today you need super sharp ideas as well as the knowledge of where to look for true opportunity.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “Farrah’s visit is a great example of how important ambition and aspiration are and what it takes to be successful in the workplace.

“Alongside the Blackpool Opportunity Area, we work very hard to challenge the expectations about the town and raise aspirations of children, young people and families.

“Improving the life chances of the town’s children and young people is fundamental to the future of Blackpool.”

Holiday activities summer success

During the summer holidays, Blackpool families had access to activities and healthy food at five areas in the town.

As school holidays can be a challenging time for families, especially for those who rely on free school meals, the Blackpool Opportunity Area funded free activities and food for local children and young people.

Evidence suggests that attending extracurricular activities can have a positive impact on children’s educational, health and wellbeing outcomes. Co-ordinated by the Public Health team at Blackpool Council, the pilot scheme aimed to help families access these opportunities during the summer holidays.

The summer programme was on offer at Claremont, Revoe, Mereside and Talbot and Brunswick children’s centres, as well as the community hub for Grange Park, @theGrange.

Working with partners ranging from Sport Blackpool, Blackpool FC Community Trust and the youth facility, the Magic Club, and many more, children and their families had the opportunity to socialise, get active together, and learn new skills as well as having access to healthy and nutritious food.

The project was aimed at five of the most deprived areas in Blackpool in a bid to target children and young people that are disadvantaged, and vulnerable to exclusion and absence.

The sessions were well attended and feedback suggests that families enjoyed taking part in the range of activities which included sport, dance, arts, crafts and drama.

Collage of summer images_page-0001

Building confidence   

The five areas offered the same programme of activities, whereas the Boat House provided a bespoke programme which consisted of residential experiences.

A group of 30 youngsters from the Boat House took part in a street dance project during the summer, which focused on some of the issues facing young people in Blackpool.  These included homelessness, child exploitation, crime and gang culture

Through dance, song and visual theatre, the young people (some of whom were funded from the OA) were able to experience the consequences of these issues as well as learn how to recognise the signs and find alternatives.

Another group of young people from the Boathouse enjoyed a series of day trips and activities throughout the summer. Part funded by the OA, the group visited Sandcastle Waterpark, the Blackpool Tower Circus and the Adventure Dock in Liverpool.

The youngsters faced their fears of water and heights. One of the young participants, Josh, has a phobia of water. Whilst at the Adventure Dock he fell in and panicked. After being helped out by staff, he carried on enjoying himself – so much so that he decided to jump in from the 15ft diving platform into the water.

He said: “When I first fell in I was really scared but the leaders helped me realise that there was nothing to be frightened of because I had my buoyancy aid on. I fell in a few more times before I did the jump and that boosted my confidence.

“Then, there I was at the top of the diving platform with all my friends jumping in and egging me on to do the same. I just did it and loved it.”