Port prioritises education to ignite a spark in the next generation

AV Dawson, owner and operator of Port of Middlesbrough has welcomed over 1600 local primary school children through its doors, as part of an initiative led by local education provider, SPARK Tees Valley, to educate children about the career opportunities and range of businesses based around the River Tees.

Split over 30 sessions, the 12-week programme welcomed children between the ages of 9 and 11 from 39 primary schools across the Tees Valley, to participate in the educational workshop named ‘World of Work.’

The interactive workshops include working with iPads, maps and interactive robots, allowing the children to learn about future careers around the River Tees and wider Tees Valley. Other activities include ‘behind the scenes’ exercises, whereby the children understand more about a range of Teesside businesses, through a variety of different tasks and video interviews with real employees of the companies.

Andrew Stogdale, founder of SPARK Tees Valley has been supporting schools for over 20 years – delivering engaging, real-world curriculum to inspire and develop young people in the region.

The company has been using Port of Middlesbrough’s conferencing facilities within The Staiths – its new state-of-the-art head office building to support the children’s learning by allowing them to witness firsthand the port operations in action.

Mr Stogdale said:

“Our programmes are built on years of experience and research to widen children’s skills to help them understanding of what future opportunities lie ahead of them and how they can make the most of them. This programme at AV Dawson, which was funded by Tees Valley Combined Authority, has been a great example of that.

“It is a high impact, highly scalable project but what made it extra special was the opportunity to run it right in the heart of Port of Middlesbrough.

“We built additional activity around the fact that the building is in such an inspirational location with views across so many of the businesses that we featured in the activities.

“The team at AV Dawson has been brilliant in working with us to enable us to deliver this worthwhile programme. The facilities at Port of Middlesbrough are also exceptional – from the high quality Wi-Fi and space available to having an events team on hand to make every visitor feel really welcome. When we get the opportunity, we will definitely be looking to deliver this programme here with AV Dawson again because the impact on nearly 2000 local children this year has been immense.”

The port is perfectly placed on the River Tees along with neighbours, Wilton Engineering, PD Ports and a host of many other maritime companies, allowing the children to witness firsthand the type of day-to-day activities that go on along the river.

Bankfields Primary School located in Middlesbrough, were one of many schools taking part in the programme at Port of Middlesbrough.

Megan Kelly, STEM, careers and enterprise lead at Bankfields Primary School said:

“The children had a fantastic day and many of them said it was the best trip they have ever been on. The children were able to explore a range of skills across a range of curriculum lessons. They explored the importance of the Tees Valley area and discovered the many amazing opportunities that are available to them in their local area.

It is vital for children to have career driven days because it is important to raise the aspirations of children and give them the opportunity to see what they can do in the future and not limit their expectations and potential.”

Anthony Suddes, AV Dawson’s group marketing manager said:

“We were delighted to support SPARK Tees Valley with this exciting project and to welcome all these young people to Port of Middlesbrough. It’s vitally important to showcase to the next generation the opportunities we have in our area and for the children to actually see these opportunities for themselves, is fantastic.”