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Tees Valley Education (TVE), a Teesside primary school trust has joined forces with a major offshore wind farm project to launch a series of educational resources to teach students about renewable energy, and to prepare for the North East’s predicted growth as one of the UK’s leading offshore wind energy hubs.
The five-school multi-academy trust has linked with RWE’s Sofia Offshore Wind Farm to create and trial a series of offshore wind teaching resources that are now available online for teachers and others with an interest to download and use.
Sofia will be located 195 kilometres from the North East coast on Dogger Bank in the central North Sea, with its offshore cable coming to land between Redcar and Marske-by-the-Sea and a new onshore converter station now under construction adjacent to the Wilton Complex, near the village of Lazenby.
Two of TVE’s primary schools are those closest to the project’s onshore infrastructure – Wilton and Dormanstown - giving a natural link between the school and the wind farm.
The resources, developed by Spark Tees Valley, include: three engaging videos narrated by local youngster Billy; Google Earth maps highlighting renewables projects around the world, as well as teacher sessions to give students experience in planning a wind farm and science investigation techniques.
Katrina Morley, TVE Chief Executive Officer said that the RWE Sofia-education partnership will ensure that local children in areas of high unemployment are able to boost their knowledge about offshore wind and the careers it will offer, particularly locally.
“Recent announcements about Teesside’s successful freeport bid and development plans for Teesworks show that the green energy sector is set to boom in Tees Valley so we want to make sure our children know about the opportunities and are ready to take part in our region’s exciting future,” she said.
Tees Valley Careers, an initiative launched by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, has also been supporting the project. Mayor Houchen said: “We’re creating the good-quality, well-paid jobs of the future at Teesworks, with the aim of leading the UK in clean energy and offshore innovation. Our children are never too young to learn of the exciting careers they can have right here, and I hope this project and these materials inspire generations to come across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”
The curriculum materials were tried and tested with TVE schools during the past academic year, and in 2021/22 will be disseminated to a wider network by Sofia’s education support team from UK STEM. The team will engage with the 20 Teesside primary schools within a catchment area of Sofia’s onshore infrastructure and offer online teacher workshops to support the materials.
The resources will continue to develop but the first set of materials is now available on the Tees Valley Careers primary resource toolkit and Sofia Offshore Wind Farm websites. There are plans to have them published online via further STEM and career networks and organisations to ensure accessibility to schools UK-wide once the local dissemination is complete.
Sofia Project Director, RWE’s Matthew Swanwick said: “Offshore wind will be a key sector for Tees Valley in the coming decade, with Sofia being just one of the many developments set to create jobs and economic benefits in the area. Through our work with Teesside schools, we want to ensure local young people are best placed to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that will be happening right on their doorstep.”
Work to prepare for the construction of Sofia’s onshore converter station is now underway on the site adjacent to Wilton International, near Lazenby Village with activity to take around four years and completion scheduled for 2025.