The Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) has announced a partnership with not-for-profit organisation Primary Engineer to bring engineering into the classrooms of local primary schools.
GCRE is working with the partner to develop a rail engineering project, linked to the Curriculum for Wales, that will be delivered in 14 local primary schools near to the site.
Primary Engineer is an educational, not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of programmes and competitions to engage children in engineering while working towards addressing the gender and diversity imbalances in the industry.
The Global Centre of Rail Excellence is a new rail research, testing and innovation centre being built on the former Nant Helen mining site at the head of the Dulais and Swansea Valleys.
The fully funded programme provides training to primary school teachers so that, with the support of engineering professionals who are paired with the schools, they can deliver a tailored engineering project and encourage young people to take an interest in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
The initiative is being funded by GCRE, which is being supported by the Department for Business and Trade in the UK Government and Welsh Government.
Simon Jones, Chief Executive of GCRE Limited, said:
“We are delighted to formally launch this exciting partnership between Primary Engineer and the Global Centre of Rail Excellence and to outline the work we will be doing with local primary schools in the area.
“We want the Global Centre of Rail Excellence to have a positive impact in the local community and we feel very strongly about our responsibility to give young people living near our site the opportunity to build a future and a career at our facility.
“That means working with schools and pupils from the earliest ages, encouraging them to take an interest in STEM subjects and inspiring the next generation about engineering and GCRE. We hope this project with Primary Engineer will do just that.”
Kirsty Williams, Chair of the GCRE Community Committee, said:
“Reaching out into the community and working with local primary schools to get young people interested in STEM and build an interest in engineering is part of the long-term ambition of GCRE to ensure the development has a positive impact on the areas around the site.
“GCRE offers an important economic and regeneration opportunity for the valleys nearby and its through building these kinds of long-term partnerships with schools that we can help the next generation access the high-quality jobs and opportunities offered by the facility.
“This project, linked to the new Curriculum for Wales, is a great start to that engagement work.”
Chris Rochester, Head of Partnerships for Primary Engineer, added:
“This partnership will provide an extraordinary opportunity to bring the Primary Engineer Rail Project to Wales and for local primary pupils to be inspired by the innovation in rail which will be happening at this world-leading facility.
“By working with teachers in local schools, we’re providing an engaging project for pupils to develop design, build, and make skills as well as developing problem-finding, problem-solving, creativity and team working skills which are core to engineering and the rail sector.
“We believe that all pupils should have the chance to identify with engineering and to see the rail sector and the Global Centre of Rail Excellence as a potential future career for them from the earliest age and this partnership sees the beginning of this.”
The pupils build working models in class which are then put to the test at Celebration Events – a large gathering of all schools, hosted by Primary Engineer and GCRE, that champions pupils’ engineering skills, creativity, and achievements.
The programme will be delivered in the 2023/24 academic year with teacher training beginning in October.
Fourteen local schools are currently being recruited and if successful the opportunity will be offered to other primary schools in the area in future years.