Blyth school children on the right track with Harrison Centre funding

A school in Blyth that works with children who have special educational needs and disabilities has received a grant from the Harrison Foundation to convert a disused train carriage into a Harrison Centre for Social Mobility science lab in its school playground.

The Dales school in Blyth recently appealed for additional support to enable the transformation of the second carriage into a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) room to target early career aspirations with local businesses in ICT, mechanics, architecture and science.

After hearing about the project via local media and Blyth MP Ian Levy, the North-East based Harrison Foundation has stepped in to provide the additional funding for the STEM room, which will also be used to teach practical railway safety and independent travel skills for children with special educational needs.

The Dales will use the funding to complete its learning train project, targeting different issues to give disadvantaged children life skills and opportunities to try and break the cycle of poverty using a train as an inspirational setting to learn.

The train is situated in the Dales’ school yard. One carriage of the train has already been converted into a library used for reading enjoyment and reading together projects.

The library carriage was featured on ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ on Channel 4 this week, where George Clark was left stunned by the transformation of the library carriage and the impact the train had on pupils at the Dales school.

Harrison Foundation trustee, Daniel Harrison, added: “I’m delighted that the Harrison Foundation is supporting the Dales School and the next phase of this great idea. Our Harrison Centres for Social Mobility come in all shapes and sizes and which school children would not be excited to have a real train in their playground, where they can read and learn? It’s a great idea and one that we’re delighted to support.

“I’d like to also thank local MP Ian Levy who played a vital role in connecting us with the Dales school and paving the way for the support we’re able to offer this amazing project.”

Dr Sue Fisher, headteacher at the Dales school, added: “The Dales school is extremely proud to be working with the Harrison Foundation, particularly as they have helped so many individuals to gain life experiences, this is something we are passionate about at the Dales school. Their community work aligns within our vision for the STEM carriage. With the Harrison Foundation as our partner, we will be able to achieve our vision and aspirations to benefit and inspire the next generation.”

Blyth Valley MP, Ian Levy, said: “I’ve been really impressed with the ambition of this project and am happy to have been able to help in some small way. The school, and James Groundwater in particular, deserve huge credit for their persistence in making it happen and I’d like to thank all of the organisations and companies who contributed including the Harrison Foundation. It’s great to have such a wonderful facility in Blyth Valley and to see it on the television.”

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