As head of year 9 at York High school I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to be the lead liaison for the level 2 Blue Skies programme with 15 of our pupils. My own involvement has been to co-coordinate the pupil’s involvement with the programme.
The impact of the Blue Skies programme on the pupils has been fantastic and is clear for all to see. So many of the pupils involved have grown in confidence and this is evident in the work they are producing in school. On a day to day basis we are seeing the benefit of the Blue Skies programme, with reports from teachers commending them on their improved confidence in lessons, from answering questions in class to reading out loud. When it comes to team activities the communication and teamwork skills they have learnt are benefiting all the pupils, enabling them to lead when in the past they would of most definitely shied away. By the end of the Programme all the pupils were jumping at the chance to try something new, and lead on the day’s activities, every time learning valuable lessons from what they did or didn’t achieve.
Seeing the pupils engage with a group of strangers in a location, foreign to many people was fantastic to see and is testament to the work that Sqn Ldr Ben Mark, Flt Lt Sasha Nash and Allison Guiton from JET have done throughout the sessions.
The programme pushes pupils to overcome their fears and build up their confidence slowly but surely. One example of this is seeing pupils who initially refused the high ropes activity only to be seen later on, a third of the way around the course some 20 foot in the air! The ability to talk in front of people is a skill required in many facets of life and one skill all the pupils have had to build up over the course of the programme. Seeing all of the pupils stand on the stage in front of family and our guests of Honour and deliver their presentation is a fantastic achievement. The confidence and the boost to each individual’s self-esteem is a credit to the programme and to those who work with the Jon Egging trust. To single one student out would be detrimental to the programme as every single pupil who has taken part over the course of the ten weeks have benefited dramatically. Every single pupil is now confident and willing to take on any challenge and to overcome their fears of the unknown.
Introducing the students to such a wide range of new people, jobs and experiences and showing them that the skills they’re learning in leadership, teamwork and communication are critical for all of them, whether it is test flying or simulating a crash landing in Yearsley swimming pool, is what Blue Skies is all about for me. It really is inspirational to see how much the pupils have benefited from the programme. The pupils now have a real motivation to succeed and try everything that is presented to them.