Our Future 'Railway engineers'

Helping young people to think about their future aspirations is what we pride ourselves in as a company across the UK, particularly in the Midlands region.


Oakwood Infants and Nursery school, Derby, is one of 32 schools chosen for the ‘Our Future Derby’ programme. This programme aims to raise primary children’s aspirations and show them what their future possibilities could be. As part of the Derby Opportunity area DFE funding programme, Learn by Design brought a full day of STEM education to Oakwood Infant School Year 2 pupils.

The day

The day consisted of a carousel of a Destination Rail activity called: “Race to Construct”, whereby our Learn by Design delivery team facilitated this rail-themed inspired session as well as an ‘Our Future Derby’ activity: ’Whats my line?’.

The year group was split in two with one half taking part in the morning and the other after lunch, with 40 pupils per session.


The challenge: ’Race to Construct’

The main activity, ’Race to Construct’ is designed to encourage pupils to think more like railway engineers and to focus on using the employability skills they have been learning about over the past few weeks.


These core employability skills include:

· Problem Solving

· Aiming High

· Creativity

· Listening

· Teamwork

· Staying Positive

· Communication


Throughout the project, pupils are being reminded of these core skills and take part in workshops that include engaging with local employer volunteers and hands-on career-related activities to encourage their knowledge of applying these skills in workshops.

In teams, the pupils work together to build a railway track out of K’nex materials, whilst following instructions on how to make the correct tracks and overcome obstacles along the way.

Once the pupils were split into teams, they were then told to work together to complete the challenges; this encouraged them to use their team working skills as well as their communication and listening skills.

As part of the programme influences the engagement between education and employers, we also had two volunteers who attended our all-day session.


The Volunteers

We were so grateful to have volunteers, Tim Collins and Bhav Chavda from SPL Powerlines who attended the day to help and support us with the workshops.


Both our volunteers are Graduate Environmental advisors who shared their knowledge of how important it was for the pupils to ‘build’ more trees around their railway tracks. Not only was this a bonus challenge and added more points to the team’s scores, but it also made them think about the environmental factors to take into consideration as part of being ‘engineers’.

Tim and Bhav both experienced working in different teams and helped the pupils with each of the bonus challenges, this was what they each had to say after the afternoon session:


Tim: “I enjoyed the experience, it allowed me to have more social interaction with the kids and tell them about what I do, and I would love to do more days like this.”
Bhav: “The day was a very rewarding experience… I enjoyed learning about the aspirations of the children and getting involved with the activities.”

'Whats my line?' activity

Our volunteers took center stage by getting involved in a ‘Whats my line?’ assembly with one of the Year 2 classes, where the pupils had to guess what they both do for a job.

This activity is to get pupils thinking more about the different jobs out there in their local communities and it’s also a factor for them to realise they can be anything they want to be when they grow up.


The Year 2 pupils asked relevant questions for them to work out exactly what our volunteers do, although, they did not manage to get the exact job titles, the pupils did learn about what their jobs entail.


Some sample questions asked were:

“Where do you work?” (location)
“When do you work?
“Do you work with animals?”
“Do you help fix things?”

The scores

In the morning and the afternoon sessions, the teams that won were the ones who ‘built’ and ‘planted’ the most trees going alongside their railway tracks. These pupils noticed they would get more bonus points scored for their teams and these do not take long to build compared to some of the other bonus challenges that were assigned, hence, they won with many points ahead of the other teams.


Quotes from the pupils

We also asked some of the Year 2 pupils what they thought about their day with us.

Quotes from the Year 2 pupils:

“I’ve had lots of fun!”
“I learnt how to build a train track.”
“I want to be a train driver after this.”
“I loved working as a team today.”

At the end of every ‘Our Future Derby’ day at the schools, our lead Learn by Design deliverer will chant to end each sessions with:

“What’s this project called?”

Year 2 pupils answering with: “Our Future Derby!”

“And who are the future employers of Derby?”

“We are!”
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