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28th September 2020

An update from our CEO

Dear Friends,

I hope you and your families continue to keep safe and well.

It has certainly been a challenging year for organisations everywhere. As ever, I am indebted to you, our incredible sponsors for your ongoing and essential support which has enabled The Smallpeice Trust to continue to provide engaging engineering opportunities for young people in the UK.

COVID-19 has made it more difficult for charities such as The Smallpeice Trust to continue our traditional programmes for young people, however we have been working hard to develop new ways to engage and inspire young people regarding engineering. The Trust has undergone a digital transformation, with extensive programme development being undertaken by our dedicated team during lockdown. We are excited to share these developments with you as they will enable us to better serve our beneficiaries and sponsors going forward.

Taking the Trust’s programmes online

We take our duty of care seriously and stand by our decision not to run our in-person courses to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, supporters and colleagues. In order, to maintain the important service we offer students, we have been creative with pursuing new avenues to reach young people and to ensure that no child misses out on essential engineering experiences during this period.

We successful shifted all of our core programmes to a virtual setting and launched a new practical home-based project series which students and parents have been able to easily engage with remotely. This has enabled tens of thousands of young people up and down the country to continue benefiting from the generosity of our sponsors.

[email protected]

In April, in order to support families and teachers during school closures, we launched our [email protected] and @School programmes. Each week we shared a new engineering project on our website and YouTube channel for children of all ages to complete, using easily accessible household objects. To date we have launched 15 Projects which have received over 42,000 video views. To see these brilliant projects click here.

Thanks to popular demand, and the generosity of our funders, we will be launching five new projects in the October half term via our website and YouTube channel.

CyberFirst Online Programme

Also in April, working with our partners the National Cyber Security Centre and QA, the CyberFirst online summer course programme launched, welcoming a record-breaking 1,800 students, and saw a 60 per cent rise in girls attending the courses compared to 2019.

Online STEM Days and Engineering courses

To ensure we are able to meet our existing commitments for STEM Days that were interrupted by COVID-19, we also piloted our first Online Primary School STEM Day in May and Online Secondary School STEM Day in June. We have aimed to continue providing enriching engineering opportunities at each stage of a young person’s education journey throughout lockdown, partnering with several universities over the summer to provide online courses. These included a Structural Engineering Course for 50 Year 12 students with Coventry University, a Biomedical Engineering Course with the University of Southampton, attended by 36 Year 11 students, and ‘A Crash Course in Railway Crashworthiness’ for 30 Year 11/12 students at the University of Birmingham.

In August we delivered two virtual courses, developed by our Education Team working in partnership with the RAF, which gave 80 Year 9 students the opportunity to explore a real world Humanitarian Engineering project.

We also piloted our first online Connect days with Arkwright Engineering Scholars in partnership with Arm and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. We plan that online Connect Days will be a key feature in our programme for 2020/21.

2020-21 Event Delivery

As schools and universities reopen amidst the uncertainties of the ongoing pandemic, we will continue to provide our online programmes and will re-introduce our in-person courses when it is safe to do so. Given one of our core values is Safety, we have invested time and resources into ensuring that our safety measures remain best in class. These safety measures include a focus on new E-learning safeguarding policies to keep students safe in an online environment, a robust, secure digital platform for the delivery of programmes, and a purpose-built virtual studio at our Leamington Spa HQ.

We are offeingr schools the flexibility to choose programmes either face to face or virtual and have strict procedures in place to minimise cross contamination. In accordance with Government guidelines, we will guarantee flexibility for students to work within their group ‘bubbles’, reducing team sizes and limiting the use of shared kit. Our partner schools know that when we are able to deliver in-person again, that our in-person programme delivery has been independently assessed as being COVID-19 secure.

We remain committed to providing young people with life changing opportunities to engage with, and be inspired by engineering, whatever scenarios COVID-19 may present. Our Arkwright Engineering Scholarship, event days and University based residential courses give young people invaluable opportunities to develop life, leadership and engineering skills, which boosts confidence, support informed decision making, prepares them for success in the future and in turn supports the country’s economic growth. We welcome and enjoy working collaboratively with our partners, this fits with our core value of Togetherness (together we can achieve more) . If at any time you would like a virtual meeting or further information on the work we are doing, please do get in contact. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support. We look forward to launching innovative new programmes for 2020/21 which will help us to grow the talent pipeline of engineers in the UK.

Dr Kevin P. Stenson
CEO, The Smallpeice Trust

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