Former pupils, now aerospace engineers at Collins, return to Tudor Grange Academy Kingshurst to inspire future engineers at the school’s impressive careers fair.

Tudor Grange Academy Kingshurst, part of the Tudor Grange Academies Trust family, is helping its pupils achieve the very best academic success and exceed in all aspects of life by welcoming more than 50 organisations from a wide variety of industries and further education to its impressive annual careers fair.

The community-minded value-driven school believes every pupil deserves an education that enables them to reach their full potential. A large part of their holistic and academic education provision is to ensure pupils are confident, responsible and respectful citizens and are ready to forge successful careers that will bring them self-worth, stability and happiness.

A highlight of this year’s event was seeing the return of former pupils Bradley Reynolds and Alfie Brooms, representing their company Collins Aerospace. Bradley joined Collins Aerospace in 2014 as one of their first apprenticeship placements. Over the past nine years, he has been promoted from an electronics engineer to an aircraft service technician and has now been appointed as their apprenticeship programme lead.  Meanwhile Alfie, aged 20, is just about to complete his apprenticeship and is looking forward to his progression throughout the company. Bradley explained the importance of these events:

“It was at this event almost a decade ago that I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life. Meeting someone from Collins Aerospace doing something relatable and exciting was so important. It really ignited my passion and gave me a purpose to ‘up my game’ in the classroom and start my apprenticeship. Earning while you learn is a great perk and a necessity for many young people. Choosing a credible company with sound career paths was so important to me. It’s great to come back to Kingshurst with my colleague Alfie, who is coming to the end of his apprenticeship. We can give these pupils some real insight and share our experiences. I love what I do and therefore find it easy to share my passion.

“We’ve sparked some real interest today with boys and girls. As a diverse company, we are always looking at ways to promote aerospace engineering as a career for women. We will be coming back to Kingshurst this academic year to work with girls across each year group and ensure we are making our training sessions relatable and accessible to all. Organisations need to get better at doing this if they want things to change.”

The Kingshurst Academy careers fair is a key event for the pupils as well as the organisations involved, but it doesn’t start or finish here, as Jacqui Robinson, TrustCEIAG Project Lead explains.

“Today is a really special day for us, but this is not just a one-off event. As a school and a trust, we are absolutely committed to support our young people’s journeys from the moment they arrive in year 7, right through until they embark on their next steps, whether that’s in further education or an apprenticeship, or the first step along their chosen career path. With current societal and economic pressures, it’s vital that we instil in our pupils the hope and determination to get what they want out of life as well as give back to their community.

“I want to thank every organisation that came along to support our event today, it’s imperative that our pupils can meet people from all walks of life and get to see what’s really out there for them. But it’s equally as good for them, because we have such bright and able young people at this school, all of whom would be an asset to such organisations. Look at Bradley and Alfie here today, two shining examples of what can be achieved together.

“It’s important that we invite companies and further education organisations that appeal to our pupils. We need to showcase the diversity of career options now available to our pupils and challenge stereotypes and perceptions. Today we made sure there was representation from – and information on – every course, apprenticeship, and career choice you could imagine. This will continue to build year on year depending on the interests of our current pupils.”

“We didn’t have these life chances when I was at school and it’s wonderful to see these young people really embrace the opportunity of meeting people that are enjoying their career and willing to share their career journeys and all important advice.”

To ensure every pupil got the most out of this event, this inclusive school devised a ‘Careers Fair Challenge’ competition to help open up conversations and pose questions.

Businesses included Birmingham Community Health Care Trust NHS Foundation Trust, ACCESS SPORT, NEC/ Resorts World, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, and West Midlands Police to name but a few. There was also a whole host of construction and hospitality sectors represented, including Tarmac, Collins Earth Works and MAKE-UK (engineering).

Parents and carers were warmly welcomed to support their children. Some even showed interest in the adult learner and higher education courses on offer and the Department for Work and Pensions stand.

Pupil Sydney, year 11 (pictured) attended with her mum Denise and was inspired after visiting the Royal Airforce stand and speaking to their careers liaison officer. Denise said “It’s been a really special afternoon for us both. Sydney and I have had lots of discussions about what she wants to do. I listen and encourage her to seek as much knowledge as she can. We hadn’t considered the forces – it wasn’t an obvious choice for a girl in my day, but now there is so much on offer. It’s definitely provided food for thought and it was great to see Sydney interact so confidently. I want her to be happy and independent, her education is really important to me and I thank Kingshurst and her amazing teachers for doing so much for her and for organising open events like today.”

Nicola Crehan, principal at Tudor Grange Academy Kingshurst said: “I’m so proud of how our pupils rose to the challenge today. They stepped out of their comfort zones and really embraced the opportunity of talking to company directors, apprenticeship leads and university representatives. That’s a huge thing for some of our pupils, especially our year 7s, and it was wonderful to watch them grow in confidence and see them really engaging.

“Our aspirations for our pupils are limitless. We have such talented, innovative and caring young people here at Kingshurst and our teachers and wider staff team are truly committed to ensuring they have equitable life chances past their school years. It’s our duty to broaden their horizons. We need to show them what’s out there for them and help them prepare for their bright futures ahead. It’s fabulous if they want to be an astronaut or a pilot or a premier footballer, but it’s equally fabulous to work in construction, health or social care or hospitality. It’s about lighting a spark of what interests them, wherever their passion and skillsets align. We are fortunate to have strong connections with so many industry giants on a regional and national basis, as well as more bespoke entrepreneurial-type companies. They offer our pupils such a wide choice and that is why we open these days up to all of our year groups, right from year 7. Every pupil is different, and you never know the exact age a spark will ignite.  

“It’s also wonderful to see so many parents and carers here this afternoon. We value their input and know how much their involvement and support affect their children’s progression.

“It’s also amazing to see Bradley and Alfie today. It was lovely for them to reunite with our teachers who taught them both and nothing brings us more pleasure than seeing the wonderful progression they have made not only in their careers but also in their personal development.

“I would like to Jacqui for co-ordinating such an impressive event, I know it takes months of planning each year. I’d also like to thank our staff and our pupils who volunteered to help run the event and our parents/carers for coming along.”

Claire Maclean CEO of Tudor Grange Academies Trust said: 

“I’d just like to congratulate Nicola, Jacqui and the team at Kingshurst Academy for pulling together yet another awe-inspiring event. We know the vital importance of raising aspirations for these young people and events like today go such a long way in doing this. I appreciate the sterling efforts that go on behind the scenes every day to build connections with our community and become that all-important hub.”