A primary school in South East Northumberland is to become a county hub for STEM-specific (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teacher training following the launch of a new engineering initiative and training lab named in honour of Primary Engineer.

Officially launched by Member of Parliament for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery, at a ceremony hosted by national not-for-profit STEM programme provider, Primary Engineer and the Institution of Primary Engineers, the new training suite located at Bothal Primary School in Ashington will become a county hub for the delivery of Primary Engineer’s teacher training programmes and an inspirational venue for pupils to engage with engineering, less STEM by Stealth more like STEM by proximity!

The school, which operates two sites as part of the Ashington Learning Partnership (ALP) Trust, was selected by Primary Engineer as one of a handful of schools across the UK to pilot a programme which will see pupils receive recognition for any activities they complete in line with the Institution of Primary Engineers’ competencies and capabilities.

Funded by the Platten Family Foundation, the Institution of Primary Engineers suite at the school, which features 3D printers, IT facilities and practical work spaces will provide new training opportunities for teachers working with Primary Engineer’s programmes from across the region and beyond, as well as serve as an additional classroom resource for the school.

Andy Roberts, executive principal at Ashington Learning Partnership Trust, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Primary Engineer to partner with them on this project.

“We’ve been involved with Primary Engineer for a number of years with both of our schools having competed in the Primary Engineer Leaders Award competition as part of our in-school STEM activities.

“It is our firm belief that the younger we can get children to engage with STEM subjects and the skills associated with them, the better. This is why we have built STEM-driven initiatives into our teaching curriculum across both our upper and lower sites, introducing our Trust-wide STEM principles to pupils as young as nursery age.

“In recent years, we have established strong working partnerships with a number of globally recognised brands who operate regional divisions such as Rio Tinto, AkzoNobel and Stratstone BMW to enable us to bring value adding, industry-led STEM experiences into school for the children. Our new partnership with Primary Engineer will enable us to further this work and see the children recognised with proper accreditation for their innovation.”

Liam Weatherill, regional director for Primary Engineer, said: “We are delighted to include the Ashington Learning Partnership Trust within our Institution of Primary Engineers programme and have been long-time admirers of the way in which they integrate STEM and industry into their learning schedules.

“They are an ideal partner school to enable their pupils to excel in the Institution of Primary Engineers programme. This collaboration will provide a footprint for all STEM activities that each child undertakes and encourage improvements through the recognition of certified status.”

All of the children who participate in the new initiative will receive membership certificates and letters after their name as members of the Institution, mirroring the format of professional engineering institutions.

The Institution of Primary Engineers is due to launch nationally at the House of Lords in May 2019.

“This is a very exciting time for Bothal Primary School and the ALP Trust,” Andy Roberts concluded.

“We are very much looking forward to kickstarting the initiative and putting our fantastic new STEM space to good use.”