Blue Skies is our flagship youth engagement programme; piloted in Lincoln in 2012 in partnership with Priory Witham Academy. The first programme provided 10 young people, who faced significant barriers to learning, with access to inspirational teams and individuals within the Royal Air Force, including the Red Arrows, The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and personnel at RAF Cranwell and RAF Waddington.
Five years on, Blue Skies now works intensively with over 200 young people per year from six different regions: Lincolnshire, Dorset, Norfolk, Yorkshire, North Wales and Oxfordshire. In September 2017 we launched our newest region in the West Midlands. We currently work in partnership with 28 schools, 15 RAF bases, 1 Naval base and 1 MOD base and 23 corporate partners.
Blue Skies inspires, challenges and equips young people to overcome the obstacles that have been getting in the way of them succeeding and being the best they can be. The programme is structured into three levels, having been developed as a progressive route for young people; the levels also stand-alone if necessary. Blue Skies is a partnership approach linking schools in deprived or rurally isolated areas with key organisations and companies connected to aviation, engineering and science.
Blue Skies is about opportunities and vision: inspiring young people to believe in themselves, challenging them to set goals and equipping them with the skills and attitude to achieve them. The programme works with 13 – 16 year olds for four months a year over three years. Outcomes include a significant increase in confidence and development of communication and teamwork skills during the first year. These skills are built on during the next two years. We equip young people with the foundational attitudes for success: self-belief, tenacity and trust. These skills enable the students to excel in public speaking, leadership and self-management. Our three year Blue Skies programme culminates in a work experience placement drawing on business and industry opportunities in each area and are tailored to the talents and interests of each young person.
Blue Skies is a long term and intensive programme, built on partnerships with inspirational people and organisations to help young people be the best they can be. We have plans to develop the programme in two more regions over the next three years and expand the opportunities we offer young people within the areas where we already work.