For the fourth consecutive year, Gatwick Airport hosted the Sussex and Surrey FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) regional tournament, which saw teams of students from seven schools in the region compete to build LEGO® robots.
FIRST® LEGO® League is an international robotics-based competition, which the airport has partnered, to excite young people aged 9 to 16 years about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). FLL is a collaboration between FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) and LEGO®. It started in the USA in 1998 with 210 teams and has now grown to a global competition with 30,000 teams involving more than half a million young people.
The event took place took place in the Sofitel Hotel, North Terminal, and was attended by 10 students from each school. The roboteers had up to 10 weeks before the tournament to build and program their robots around this year’s ‘Hydrodynamics’ theme – use, transportation and disposal of water – before putting them through their paces to complete a set of missions on the thematic play surface.
The judging panel, which included members of Gatwick staff, chose Reigate St Mary’s School as the overall winners, who will go through to the FLL UK and Ireland Final, held at the University of West England. The winners of the National Finals will then represent the UK and Ireland at an international championship in either USA, Hungary or Estonia.
The event partnership forms part of Gatwick’s Community Engagement ‘Inform, Inspire, Invest’ education strategy, including partnerships with other STEM initiatives, such as the Big Bang Fair and Learn Live broadcasts.
The airport is also supporting the Government’s national ‘Year of Engineering 2018’ campaign, which launches today, and is celebrating engineering and helping to raise its status as an aspirational career path among young people, their parents and teachers.
Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s Chief Operations Officer, said:
“Gatwick is proud to have once again hosted the regional FIRST® LEGO® League tournament and thanks all of the schools and their students for participating. With a background in engineering myself, I was extremely impressed by the standard of entries and the high level of enthusiasm with which the teams approached the competition.
“Our objective as an airport is to inform the next generation of young people about the wide range of jobs that STEM skills are needed for, and help to build a pipeline of talent for the future.”
Mandy Workman, Education Manager at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said:
“FIRST® LEGO® League is a great competition because it develops the skills needed in our future engineers such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork. It really inspires students and makes STEM subjects so much fun!”
Jo Mckinney-Green, Operations Manager, STEM Sussex, University of Brighton, said:
“The day is always such an action-packed and vibrant event and it is a pleasure to be involved each year. It is incredibly rewarding to see the young people taking part with great enthusiasm and talent and we are delighted that it has such a positive impact on them in terms of their immediate studies and on their future ideas and aspirations.”
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Thomas Bennett Teachers vote to strike
99% of the voters elected for strike action.
Thomas Bennett teachers vote overwhelmingly for strike action over funding cuts and job losses
Teachers working at Thomas Bennett Community College in Tilgate, Crawley have voted to take strike action. Members of the National Education Union (NEU), voted by 99% in favour of the action, with a turnout of 89%. The school, operated by The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) has threatened to make teachers redundant and make drastic funding cuts to areas such as support for children with special educational needs (SEN).
Regional Secretary, Paul McLaughlin said:
“This overwhelming result shows the enormous strength of feeling that members have over this devastating issue. We’re calling on the employer to come to the table with serious plans to save this school, otherwise we will be forced to take significant action.”
This follows a recent public meeting where 150 members of the school community including parents, pupils and staff came together with local councillors to oppose these plans by the academy trust.
The union has confirmed that any action will be non-disruptive of exams.
Local Representative and English Teacher in the school, Alex Ramiz said:
“Through this ballot result our members are sending a clear message to The Kemnal Academies Trust that they do not accept their outrageous proposals for running our school into the ground. They will take strike action unless TKAT come up with a more workable solution.”
NEU Regional Officer, Glenn Kelly added:
“TKAT have choices. They have £7 million of reserves they can use to save this school; the Chief Executive is paid £165,000 a year and they can renegotiate the terms of their PFI contract which costs £1 million per year. So far, they have been unwilling to consider these alternatives, and prefer to make our members redundant instead. These decisions would leave vulnerable children in the school without adequate levels of support.”
Angela Newman of the Crawley Community Action Group, a parent led body formed to help fight the cuts to the school, stated;
“I am one of the many parents who are concerned about Thomas Bennett and are determined to save the school. I want to speak up to say that we fully support the teachers who have balloted for action. It’s a shame that it has to get to this but, like us parents they are motivated only to save our school and to be able to provide the children with the education they deserve.”
Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council said:
“As the teachers said at the meeting last week, if you want to prevent the cuts to the school we need to be ready to stand together to defend our children’s education.”
Crawley MP Henry Smith said:
“It’s perfectly understandable and right that teachers at Thomas Bennett should highlight concerns about the future of the community college and I call on the academy trust who runs the school to respond fully to these worries so that pupils and parents can be assured for the future”