23 May 14

Hinkley Point C's 'Inspire' programme marks education milestone

On Thursday (22 May) students from across Somerset reached the impressive milestone of having taken part 50,000 times in EDF Energy’s ‘Inspire’ education programme.

The energy company has spent three years directly involving students in educational activity to spark their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects as part of an innovative programme to prepare young people across Somerset for the job opportunities associated with Hinkley Point C power station.

Well over 300 separate activities over the past three years have included inviting presenters from the Cheltenham Science Festival to give interactive lectures to local students, residential courses at Exeter University, visits to the Hinkley Point B power station, climate change lessons in classrooms and careers fairs.

The 50,000 total was reached when a group of 26 year 9 female students from Robert Blake Science College, Chilton Trinity, Bridgwater College Academy, Haygrove and Heathfield Community schoolsattended a 'Women into Construction and Engineering' event at Bridgwater College’s Construction Skills and Innovation Centre in Cannington. The female students spent the day finding out how the plant machinery works, including being shown large dumper trucks and diggers by the Centre's training staff.

Barbara Jones, HR director for Nuclear New Build at EDF Energy, attended the event to mark the important milestone and to talk individually with the students. Barbara Jones said: “We’re investing over £10 million into training, skills and education throughout Somerset and the ‘Inspire’ programme is a very important part of that commitment. The enthusiasm and interest of the students is really encouraging to see and many of them are now exploring new career options as a result of the programme.”

Mike Robbins, Principal, of Bridgwater College said: “Bridgwater College are delighted to be involved in such an important project for the area. It is vital that industry and education work together to engage young people in the STEM subjects and the ‘Inspire’ programme is an excellent example of this. The College has some of the best STEM facilities in the South West and so giving students from our partner schools access to them is an essential part of sparking interest in such careers, at a young age,”

Paul Cadmore, Head of House at Chilton Trinity School said: “As a school we really value the extra perspective and interest that companies can add to the learning experience, helping to bring subjects like science and engineering to life for the students. These activities often spark off questions and debate among the students and allows them to relate their studies to what they might aspire to do as a later career or at college and university.”

The Hinkley Point C power station will generate 25,000 job opportunities during construction as well as 900 permanent jobs over its 60 years of operation.

Nigel Cann, construction director of Hinkley Point C, said:"Activities like today help prepare the young people of Somerset for the employment and training opportunities at Hinkley Point C and also encourage female students to play a much greater role in the future. That's great news for the industry, as well as for aspiring female students, as it allows us to realise the true potential of all students and offer greater choice in careers right here in Somerset."

Hinkley Point C and STEM subjects

Under two landmark agreements, EDF Energy has committed £10 million into enhancing training, skills and education provision throughout Somerset, working in partnership with local authorities and education providers such as Bridgwater College and West Somerset College as well as local schools.

EDF Energy has developed its programme to prepare young Somerset people for the job opportunities that will come with the construction and operation of Hinkley Point C. It aims to inspire young people to continue to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and in doing so build a sustainable workforce of the future through a pipeline from education to skills and into future long term employment.

Success to date

  • The Inspire programme forms part of EDF Energy’s wider initiatives that consider employment, education and skills and the need to make best use of a sustainable local supply chain.
  • To date well over 300 activities have been delivered across more than 100 local schools in Somerset.
  • The programme has now been successfully delivered some 50,000 times to students across the county.
The Inspire Education Programme

The EDF Energy Nuclear New Build 'Inspire' Education Programme is busy preparing the young people of Somerset for the opportunities that will arrive with the construction and operation of the new Hinkley Point C power station.

The highly successful and innovative programme, developed specifically to support the Hinkley Point C project and now in its third year, is helping to inspire Somerset youngsters to continue to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects). As well as helping to overcome an important national skills gap it is helping to build a sustainable legacy for the future through a pipeline from education to skills and into future long term sustainable employment.

Inspire delivers a broad range of activities and progressive programmes across age groups from 4 to 24. Among other initiatives it includes;

  • The Energy Mix – Exploring the challenges and solutions for a low carbon future.
  • The Year 9 Involve Programme – A progressive programme of events delivered both in schools and out of the classroom providing a greater insight into renewable energy whilst building the ability to confidently present, communicate and debate ideas.
  • The Year 10 Pathways Programme – A progressive programme of events building on the year 9 Programme. It provides students with a greater understanding of future career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines while experiencing hands on engineering challenges.
  • Women Into Construction and Engineering– Delivered in collaboration with local colleges, this course is aimed at giving young women an insight into the exciting and diverse range of professions within the sectors and helping young women become more informed about the qualification pathways available.
The Inspire programme also supports and delivers continued professional development of educational professionals. The work is creating a network of innovative and inspirational teachers, each working on subject materials that relate to new opportunities for students whilst developing the teacher’s own skills and knowledge.