The Barrow Engineering Project (BEP) was launched in April 2008 and is a major component of the Academy’s ongoing effort to encourage greater numbers of young people - and young people from a more diverse range of backgrounds - to become engineers and technicians.

Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria is an economically deprived area with high levels of unemployment. Many young people leave the area to seek work elsewhere: Some 35% of 18- to 30-year-olds left Barrow in Furness to seek work elsewhere; this is double that of the rest of the country. 

Since its launch the BEP has worked with five secondary schools, two further education colleges, local businesses and other stakeholders in Barrow-in-Furness, to actively engage students with engineering. Thanks to funding from The Garfield Weston Foundation, the BEP was able to start working with 10 feeder primary schools in the 2011/2012 academic year as well as supporting the establishment of the Furness Education and Skills Partnership (FESP).

The objectives of the BEP are to:

  • raise aspirations and skills levels by providing tangible, realistic pathways to apprentice, technician and undergraduate learning and employment
  • contribute towards the creation of an engineering skills base capable of meeting the region’s future needs.

The BEP achieves this by enriching the existing science and technology curriculum, increasing access to high-quality extra-curricular activities and building links between schools and local employers. Previous Academy work with schools has demonstrated that the practical elements of science, design and technology – the genuine, ‘hands on' experience of making things - are the most effective means of engaging and sustaining students’ interest in engineering. The BEP has built on this by providing students with opportunities to take part in authentic engineering projects – from building and testing hovercraft and electric cars to visiting local engineering employers and national engineering careers fairs.

In addition to centrally-provided activities, each school is allocated an annual budget for extra-curricular engineering activities, both managed by a locally-based project coordinator employed by the Academy. The coordinator helps schools choose which activities best meet students’ needs and arranges the activities with external providers and employers.

The most recent evaluation report suggests that there is evidence of BEP activities, materials and initiatives being embedded in school planning, staff development and resource decisions; teachers' professional development and teaching practices; pupils' core and optional learning opportunities; and how local industry are engaging with the STEM agenda. The BEP's organisational structures and ways of working include enabling and process indicators that are successfully supporting the embedding of activities and good practice as well as preparing for future sustainability.

In the five academic years since its launch, the BEP has:

  • provided over 25,000 STEM learning opportunities for local students
  • played a key role in the establishment of FESP
  • involved 31 local employers including BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, Siemens and Vattenfall
  • involved nearly 200 teachers
  • involved over 120 STEM ambassadors
  • actively engaged female students with average participation rates of 48% female
  • further demonstrated the effectiveness of practical activities to positively influence young people’s attitudes to engineering
  • attracted considerable local enthusiasm and positive publicity in the local news media.

Key points extracted from previous evaluation reports are:

  • BEP activities have raised student and teacher awareness of engineering as a subject and possible career focus. Teachers are making an explicit connection between STEM subjects, using BEP engineering activities to demonstrate the application of other curriculum subjects such as mathematics, science and technology, including design.
  • increased engagement in extracurricular activities provides pupils with opportunities for enhancing their attainment and skills. Pupils reported the benefits of opportunities to reinforce skill development in a ‘fun way’, which also enhanced their motivation. The standard curriculum has been enriched through BEP activities.
  • teachers reported positive impact on pupils' learning but said it was difficult to demonstrate enhanced attainment in core assessments such as GCSE for pupils who participated in BEP activities.
  • BEP was seen as making a definite contribution in supporting teachers CPD and curriculum development which we believe will have an impact on the attainment and skill level of local learners.

​Activities for 2013/2014 academic year have included (but are not limited to):

  • All schools, both secondary and primary, have set up and are running successful engineering clubs.
  • A number of schools and Furness College are continuing to work on Greenpower F24 kit cars. There is also a Goblin kit car project running in primary schools.
  • An Engineering Education Scheme team ran at Barrow Sixth Form College supported by BAE Systems Submarine Solutions,
  • STEM Days have taken place for staff and students in primary schools.
  • A large range of collaborative and in-house events took place during National Science & Engineering Week 2014 (14-23 March).
  • A Future Engineers Day was hosted by BAE Systems Submarine Solutions on 27 February for 140 Year 9 and Year 12 students.
  • A Wind Energy Challenge Day supported by Vattenfall took place in October 2013.
  • The BEP was represented at the South Cumbria Big Bang Fair hosted by Furness College in October 2013.
  • The Furness Education and Skills Partnership jointly funded and organised the Furness Skills' Fest, a careers event which was attended by over 500 people, the vast majority of whom were students and their parents.
  • In addition to the above, all schools had funding bids for in-house engineering activities approved.

Activities for the 2014/2015 academic year

Thanks to funding from The Sir John Fisher Foundation, each school and college will receive funding to run engineering activities in the 2014/2015 academic year as well as funding for activities during National Science and Engineering Week 2015.

Further details for activities during the 2014/2015 academic year will be added here shortly.

BEP evaluation reports

The Academy believes strongly in evaluating the impact of its education programmes as such four reports on the BEP were commissioned and these can be viewed below.

BEP Evaluation Report Year One (2008-2009) (4.33 MB)

BEP Evaluation Report Year Two (2009-2010) (1.50 MB)

BEP Evaluation Report Year Four (2011-2012) (1.18 MB)

BEP Evaluation Report Year Five (2012-2013) (1.65 MB)

Schools and Colleges Involved in the BEP:

  • Barrow Island Primary School
  • Barrow Sixth Form College
  • Burlington CE Primary School
  • Dowdales School
  • Furness Academy
  • Furness College
  • George Romney Junior School
  • Holy Family Catholic Primary School
  • Low Furness CE Primary School
  • Newbarns Primary School
  • Pennington CE Primary School
  • South Walney Junior School
  • St Bernard’s Catholic High School
  • St Pius X Catholic Primary School
  • Ulverston Victoria High School
  • Victoria Junior School
  • Walney School