Learning about teamwork with the Red Arrows

Learning about teamwork with the Red Arrows

If you want to understand the importance of teamwork – ask the best in the business! There aren’t many teams who can out-perform the Red Arrows in terms of working together to optimise performance.

So, seeing the famous red Hawk planes and their pilots in action at their RAF Scampton home was the perfect example of this crucial life and work skill for a group of 11 young pupils from a local, Lincolnshire school. The Blue Skies cohort was getting ready to begin the teamwork element of their programme and the students were accompanied at this session by JET’s Liaison Officer LJ Critchell, and Shane and Charlotte Mullins from Fiscal Engineers. Their company is funding a whole cohort of Blue Skies students through their three-year programme – so they were keen to attend and see first-hand what happens at a Blue Skies session.

Next, Flt Lt Nick ‘Critch’ Critchell, Red 3, gave a presentation and the students were then invited to sit in whilst the pilots briefed for their next sortie. The students decided the pilots brief in ‘gibberish’ as they struggled to follow what was being said! The important thing was that the pilots understood each other, and were well prepared for the sortie.

The students were then glued to the skies as the team practised overhead, before sitting in on the pilots’ debrief post-flight. One of the biggest lessons from the day came from that debrief – that you have to be open and honest in order to work well as a team.

The team sit together and discuss any mistakes that happened during the practice and are given the opportunity to be honest about how and why it happened. They then move on to the next point. The young people saw that all team members appreciated and respected their team mates’ honesty and that no-one judged or apportioned blame. It was an invaluable and timely lesson for this cohort as they begin the teamwork element of the Blue Skies Level 1 programme.

“One of the core roles of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team is to inspire the next generation and it’s a great privilege to be able to bring the young people to the home of the Red Arrows as they embark on their Blue Skies programme.”
Flt Lt Nick Critchell, aka Red 3

The students had lunch with the pilots too – all part of the opportunity to meet and interact with inspirational role models that Blue Skies aims to give. Students also got to see at close quarters the kit the pilots have to wear, (which can add up to 12 kilos to their weight) and to sit in an ejection seat. One student said it was a bit like a big, uncomfortable, baby seat!

The feedback from the session was all about how amazing and “fascinating” the day had been, and how much insight the students had gained. Blue skies aims to help children in challenging circumstances to realise their strengths and aspire to work and life goals they never dreamed were possible. Sessions focus on communication, leadership and life skills that equip kids to dream big and overcome their current challenges to lead the life they choose.

“I’ve always liked the Red Arrows. I’ve seen them before – but never this close.”
Blue Skies session attendee, age 14

The teamwork element of the programme revolves around four Rs: reciprocity, resourcefulness, reflection and resilience. It aims to help children work positively as members of a team, helping to solve problems by sharing skills and knowledge and having the confidence to seek clarification and adapt when necessary. It’s also designed to show children – through practical application and experiential learning – that effective teamwork requires team members to behave in certain ways; being encouraging, considerate, respectful, tolerant, patient, flexible, loyal, and having the ability to listen, accept criticism, and motivate others. Children are also encouraged to reflect on what they’ve learnt and evaluate how well they’ve worked as a team and why.

Find out more about our Blue Skies programme and read about another Blue Skies session.