More than 600 students from across the region have found out more about jobs and career paths in a Dragons’ Den-style challenge.

A total of 604 students from 10 schools flexed their design muscles in this year’s SEND Enterprise Challenge – with the pupils meeting a range of establishments and employers on their journey.

The 11 to 24-year-olds with special educational needs and learning disabilities all heard about opportunities from Altrad UK, Thirteen Group, Northern Gas Networks, NYBEP, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Daisy Chain, our local colleges and others.

When it came to the prizes, the Net Zero wind turbine challenge saw awards for “The Most Creative Use of Recycled Materials” go to Abbey Hill’s North Shore site, Stockton, while the “Most Successful Turbine” went to Catcote Academy, Hartlepool.

  • If you want more business content and insight - backed by our commitment to help the North East grow - sign up for £3 for 3 months or £30% off an annual subscription. Just CLICK HERE

The Award for “Best Looking Net Zero Poster” went to Abbey Hill’s Fairfax site, in Middlesbrough, and the award for “Most Imaginative presentation” was taken by Kirkleatham Hall School.

The event was sponsored by Middlesbrough-based firm Altrad, which also set the challenge. Mentors from the firm, including a number of operations, engineering and project managers, were all on hand to kickstart the week.

Julie Gilhespie, Chief Executive of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “Events like these are crucial to give all our young people a quality insight into the world of work.

“It gets them thinking creatively, applying their skills and discovering new ones. It also helps in our push to ensure no-one gets left behind by securing connections with our leading firms and colleges.

“I’d like to congratulate the students for their winning entries and heartily thank all of the schools and organisations that got involved – with a special mention to Altrad for leading and offering its support.”

The Combined Authority gave out a number of awards for the week including:

  • Amazing Communication Skills: Priory Woods School, Middlesbrough class G3 and Catcote Academy Sixth Form, Hartlepool
  • Amazing Creative Skills: River Tees MAT, Grangetown
  • Excellent Teamwork Skills: Discovery Specialist Academy, Middlesbrough & Beverley School, Middlesbrough class 3CPR
  • Excellent Listening Skills: Beaumont Hill Academy, Darlington.
  • Excellent Problem-Solving Skills: Kirkleatham Hall School, Redcar.
  • Excellent Positivity: KTS Academy, Brotton.
  • Best Class Scrapbook: Catcote Academy, Hartlepool class 10.
  • Most Enthusiastic Class: Abbey Hill Academy, Stockton class 6MR & Beaumont Hill Academy Darlington Class PJU.
  • Excellent Participation: Catcote Academy Sixth Form, Hartlepool.

One of the judges was Jamie Yarker, who is a project manager/CSR Lead for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber at Altrad.

The Northern Echo: This year’s SEND Enterprise ChallengeThis year’s SEND Enterprise Challenge (Image: TVCA)

“It was an absolutely amazing experience,” he said.

“It was a team event and seeing the joy on the kids’ faces makes it all worthwhile. The Friday Celebration Event is something I would actually buy a ticket for. Being involved is good for the soul.”

Another Judge Karl Bramwell, Vice President of Onshore UK, added: “It is the second time I attended the event, and it was very uplifting to see the happiness it brings to the children.

“The work that a number of people put in to facilitate the event is outstanding.”

This is the fourth year running the SEND “STEAM” event has been held across the region focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths.