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WNAT engineers hone skills with RAF

Aspiring engineers from a West Norfolk Academies Trust school had the opportunity to develop their skills when they visited a Peterborough airbase for some hands-on experience.

Fifteen students from Years 8 and 9 at Marshland High School in West Walton spent the day at RAF Wittering, as part of a Jon Egging Trust initiative.

The charity was founded by Dr Emma Egging in memory of her husband, Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging, who died at the Bournemouth Air Festival in 2011, and aims to promote teamwork, leadership, trust, public speaking, communication, confidence, self-management, goal setting and resilience in young people.

“The Trust was set up to realise Jon’s dream of creating links with the RAF and other inspiring aviation environments to help young people develop their talents and be the best they can be,” explained Dominic Stannard, Head of Character and Culture at Marshland.

It is the fourth year that the school has worked with the Jon Egging Trust, with further RAF days planned for two Year 7 groups in June.

“Last year we went to RAF Marham and completed team building activities, flew flight simulators and had a tour of the high security area, and saw F35 jets and met pilots,” continued Mr Stannard.

“The trip is part of the JET Blue Skies Inspire Package, where students take part in five two-hour sessions in school and then finish with the trip.

“The programme is to develop their leadership skills, well-being, confidence and resilience, which in turn supports their future aspirations, in school and beyond.”

This year’s visit to RAF Wittering was run by Babcock International, a British aerospace, defence and engineering company which provides engineering services to support national defence.

Activities undertaken by the Marshland students included a wheel change on a Grob Tutor 115E aircraft, a canopy jettison test, and spark plug component maintenance, as well as a simulated emergency.

“Part two was with the airfield fire and crash team, involving a simulated aircraft crash,” said Mr Stannard. “This included deploying in the rapid response vehicle over to the fire training area on camp where, alongside the firefighters, students extinguished a simulated aircraft crash.”

“The students are very lucky to get the opportunities on the RAF bases,” he added. “We have to select students from strict criteria to ensure there is maximum impact.

“Staff complete an assessment before and after to allow us to measure the impact, and we consistently see an improvement in students’ teamwork, communication, confidence, resilience, goal setting, leadership and attitude.”