Dorset students first in country to pilot new STEM-inspired support programme

Dorset students first in country to pilot new STEM-inspired support programme

As the Jon Egging Trust (JET) gets set for this year’s Bournemouth Air Festival, the charity has announced that students from Wey Valley Academy and All Saints School in Weymouth, Dorset will be amongst 300 from across the UK to take part in a pilot scheme to increase the impact of a three-year STEM-inspired support programme which aims to build confidence, academic attainment and aspiration in vulnerable students.

Blue Skies is the trust’s flagship programme, offering long-term support to students who come from areas of economic hardship and are lacking in confidence and disengaging at school. The programme builds teamwork, leadership and resilience skills and offers access to dynamic workplaces and professionals linked to aerospace and entrepreneurial thinking, supporting students to reach their full potential. Thirty students from Dorset will join the pilot scheme this September, alongside students from eight of JET’s active regions across the UK including East Anglia, Lincolnshire, Cornwall and North Wales.

The pilot programme comes as a result of JET’s partnership with the private equity foundation Impetus, who selected JET from 180 charities last year to receive their backing. Impetus support high-potential charities to grow their reach and impact, and part of their work with JET over the past year has been to help refine its flagship programme in order to further improve outcomes for students.

JET’s Director of Impact and Engagement, Laura Carey, says that the charity has been running its long-term Blue Skies programmes for students since 2012, alongside a shorter one-term Blue Skies Inspire Package – or BSIP. The refined offer will marry the best of both programmes. “Our long-term programmes have traditionally been delivered out of school in inspiring work settings linked to STEM, aerospace and the RAF, while our shorter BSIPs have largely been delivered in the classroom by our in-house youth team. The new pilot programme will combine both elements, with each workplace visit followed up with an in-school session during which the JET team will help students develop vital skills such as leadership, communication and goal-setting and translate what has been learnt in the workplace back into the classroom. Our research shows that this hybrid approach will have greater positive outcomes for our students, and this year is about testing and refining our new curriculum before rolling it out more widely next year.”

JET CEO, Dr Emma Egging, who founded the charity in memory of her husband, Red Arrows pilot Flt Lt Jon Egging, says that the refined programme will offer students over 100 hours of face-to-face support over three years, and has a keener focus on academic attainment.

“We know that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are 40% less likely to get good GCSEs or go to university and more than twice as likely to be NEET; that is not in education, employment or training, than their more affluent peers. What we have learnt at JET over the past 12 years is that students facing adversity need much wider and more nuanced support than current school interventions allow, in order to set the conditions for students to understand the relevance and application of the subjects they learn at school. At JET we arm our young people with the tools, motivation, resilience and aspiration for them to re-engage with education and improve their grades, in order to succeed at school and in life. By giving students access to incredibly exciting workplaces, and by introducing them to professional role models who often have their own stories of adversity which they share with the students – it gives them an understanding of what success at school could represent for them, and allows them to broaden their horizons and think differently about their own futures and potential.”