Heathrow’s ‘Secondary School Challenge’ helps students to crack career success code


LONDON, England – Students from schools around Heathrow are getting the chance to learn new career skills with the Secondary School Coding Challenge.

In its seventh year, the Heathrow Secondary School Coding Challenge gives Year 8 pupils the chance to learn new skills in areas such as engineering and technology and encourages them to start thinking about their future careers. It forms part of the Government’s STEM programme which aims to get more young people to take up science, technology, engineering and maths.

This year, the Challenge focuses on coding and is based on the 21 driverless ‘pods’ that are used to transport passengers from business car parks to Terminal 5. Working in teams, the pupils are tasked with building their own pod out of Lego, then programming it to travel a set route. The Challenge finishes with a pod race off between teams at the end.

The series of events taking place during March and April are being run by IT managers and volunteers from Heathrow.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “My aim is that a future Chief Executive of Heathrow will come from one of our local communities and with expansion we could realistically end local youth unemployment. So investing in job skills through schemes like Heathrow’s Secondary Schools Challenge is important to us and the schools we work with.
“This year’s Challenge not only teaches young people new skills but also encourages team working and social interaction – and it’s lots of fun too.”

Over half of Heathrow’s 76,000 employees live in the five boroughs around Heathrow. With expansion, Heathrow will generate 40,000 additional local jobs and up to 10,000 apprenticeships.

With 15 schools from the boroughs of Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne due to take part, it was pupils from Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls that were first to take on this year’s Challenge on International Women’s Day.

Assistant Head Teacher and Science/Maths Specialism Coordinator at Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls, Michael Heyes, said: “As an all girls school we have been fortunate to be involved with Heathrow for a number of years to help progress the STEM agenda, especially in Engineering and coding. The concept of work related learning, a hands on practical activity and the opportunity to interact with a range of professions from a high profile company makes the challenge an ideal event that we can support. We have also gained the opportunity to promote good careers guidance though the use of the apprentices who work on the project and now have several students interested in alternative careers pathways as well as those trying to join Heathrow itself. “