North West Surrey support at first-ever Brooklands Innovation Academy | News centre

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North West Surrey support at first-ever Brooklands Innovation Academy

Professor Brian Cox CBE delivering his keynote speech. Credit Dan Turner.

North West Surrey Alliance and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals support the first-ever Brooklands Innovation Academy.

On Tuesday 29 November 2022, North West Surrey Health and Care Alliance (NWS Alliance) joined Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology (STEM) professionals and more than 400 local secondary students at an event which showcased the many career opportunities available in these industries.

The Brooklands Innovation Academy was one of three events held across the UK in November 2022 as part of the annual National Science Summer School programme co-founded in 2012 by Professor Brian Cox CBE and Lord Andrew Mawson OBE.

This initiative is managed by Well North Enterprises which is already working with NWS Alliance and its partner organisation, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (ASPH), to help deliver sustainable change by enhancing their roles within the local community as an anchor organisation. 

Science Summer School offers a practical way to help build on the existing work of ASPH, its local partners and its emerging Integrated Care Partnership. The aim is to develop a vision for the future which meets the aspirations of colleagues, patients and their families, partner organisations and is relevant for local neighbourhoods. Making young people aware of and interested in the many NHS career pipeline opportunities in Surrey is integral to this vision.  

This is the first time that the event has been held in Surrey and Brooklands Museum provided the ideal location. It is the historic home of British motorsport and aviation with an ethos of innovation, entrepreneurship and endeavour, core values which are still completely relevant today.

The Brooklands Innovation Academy is sponsored by a number of local organisations, including the NWS Alliance and, together with a year-round programme of linked STEM activities, has acted as a catalyst connecting the NHS, schools, colleges, universities and businesses and encouraging collaboration. 

During the day, students heard from a number of impressive guest speakers including Kirsty Murphy MBE, the first female pilot in The Red Arrows, and Wing Commander Andy Green OBE the holder of the World Land Speed Record, as they talked about their STEM career highlights and achievements.

Professor Brian Cox CBE joined remotely in the morning from his current world tour to welcome students and deliver a keynote speech titled ‘The origins of the universe, cosmology, and black holes’. 

Professor Cox drew a fascinating parallel between the development of the steam engine and the importance of temperature which powered the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century and the Information Technology Revolution of the 21st Century, which is being driven by ever-powerful computers, particularly the advent of quantum computers. He pointed to the making of quantum computers as one example of the many exciting career possibilities open to students. 

Professor Cox said:

“They are astonishingly potentially powerful things and it turns out that the techniques we need to understand black holes are the same techniques we need to build quantum computers and to understand how they work. This also helps us to understand the nature of space and time and ultimately the origin of the universe”.

The students were also able to immerse themselves in a variety of engaging practical workshops designed to encourage ‘learning by doing’. They included making toothpaste, changing tyres in a racing pit stop scenario, building and launching rockets, and so much more!

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (ASPH) ran one of the workshops which demonstrated how a host of STEM careers come together to care for patients. The Trust’s Clinical Education team demonstrated to the students how pulse oximeters, ultrasounds and Doppler machines work and how they are used in hospitals to look after patients.

Dr David Fluck, ASPH - Medical Director and Professor Pankaj Sharma, ASPH - Director of Research and Development also attended the event to present three local students with The Tim Spencer Award. They were joined by Penny Alford, Chief Education Officer - The Bourne Education Trust, a core partner in Brooklands Innovation Academy. The Tim Spencer Award was named in memory of Tim Spencer, the first Medical Director of St Peter’s Hospital NHS Trust who sadly passed away last year.

Both organisations also participated in a special evening Careers Fair and Reception to promote career opportunities in the health and care sector. The Reception was hosted by Ruth Amos, inventor of The StairSteady mobility device and Co-Founder of the YouTube channel ‘Kids Invent Stuff’.

Professor Brian Cox sent a virtual welcome message followed by inspirational presentations from civil engineer, Ayo Sokjale, and former Red Arrow, Kirsty Murphy.  Some 200 parents, students and guests attended both events.

Jack Wagstaff, Place Leader and Chief Officer for the NWS Alliance said:

“It’s been great to work alongside Well North Enterprises, Brooklands Museum and The Bourne Education Trust to develop the Brooklands Innovation Academy as one of the sponsors of the programme.

"Supporting and championing events like the Brooklands Innovation Academy aligns with our priorities as a partnership as we want to engage with our communities earlier so that we can create healthy places that allow our population to stay well and independent as well as provide the best outcomes for them. I’d like to thank the organisers for putting on such a fantastic event and allowing us to be a part of this amazing programme”.

Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, Chair of Well North Enterprises and Co-founder of Science Summer School said:

“Professor Cox and I started this project in an east London secondary school in 2012. What had been a failing school in a dysfunctional community was rebuilt with a fantastic new headteacher and staff putting STEM subjects at the curriculum core.

"The result was happy and successful students and proud parents. This new school was also at the centre of a programme to transform the local area. It was driven by a new local partnership between education, business, health, and the community which Well North calls an ‘Innovation Platform’.

“We have started to share this model nationally with Science Summer School placed front and centre. We now have events running in South Yorkshire and Northern Ireland as well as in London, and, of course, this inaugural event, which has just been completed so successfully here at Brooklands Museum.

“Our practical aim is to help connect the career pipeline between young people and the myriad of training and work opportunities across education, health, and business available within local communities. No longer will they be ships passing in the night.  

“As part of this process here in Surrey, ASPH and The Bourne Education Trust have come together to create pathways into work in the NHS and into the many skilled jobs and range disciplines required to run a modern hospital. It’s all about connecting a future workforce which lives on the doorstep into the local hospital.

“By creating an enthusiastic workforce with the right skill set, we can help to drive the UK forward which, in turn, makes this a better place for all to live. We know that knowledge is power, and this first Brooklands Innovation Academy has ticked all the right boxes in practical, not paper, terms. We thank our brilliant partners and look forward to building on this successful relationship in 2023”.

Dr David Fluck said:

“It was fantastic to be part of the Brooklands Innovation Academy! You could really see how engaged and inspired the students were, getting stuck into the workshops and listening to the amazing line up of guest speakers.

"I was delighted to present The Tim Spencer award to our chosen winners and commemorate Tim Spencer in this way. I’d like to congratulate the three winners and all those who entered the competition, as the entries we received really were of a high standard".

Photograph credit: Dan Turner.

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