Pupils find inspiration from famous rail line for engineering skills

This story was published 20 July 2022

Children living near the Settle-Carlisle Railway in rural North Yorkshire now have access to a cutting-edge science and technology resource – situated in the grounds of a Dales primary school.

Three children learning engineering skills.

The world-renowned railway and its famous landmark, the Ribblehead Viaduct, were one of the greatest engineering feats of Victorian England when they were built in the 1800s. Now children living nearby have the chance to develop their own future careers in engineering and technology.

They have access to a new, fully-equipped outdoor classroom at Settle CE Primary School, which is stocked with equipment for science exploration, engineering projects and technology challenges.

The school has been working with the Settle Carlisle Railway Development Company to boost its Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education. 

The primary has already achieved national recognition for its achievements in STEM, after being named a finalist in the National Farmers Union’s Farmvention contest in 2019 for designing a tractor of the future and in 2020 for designing a sustainable dog coat. In 2018, the school was awarded a science prize by Rolls Royce for its Robot Project.

The development of a new, dedicated STEM classroom enables the rural school to focus even further on inspiring children in the subject and developing their potential.

Settle Primary School and the Settle Carlisle Railway Development Company worked together on the project. As well as being a STEM hub for the school, the studio will also be available for the community, and other schools along the rail line. So far the studio has been equipped with work benches, programmable miniature trains, a television screen, laptop and wi-fi internet connections.

The executive headteacher of Settle and Malhamdale Primary Partnership, Richard Wright, said: “This is an invaluable resource and means once we have finished equipping the studio, our school and other small schools in the Yorkshire Dales like Settle Primary will have access to the kind of STEM learning experiences which you would usually only be able to access in larger schools.

“Once fully equipped with tools and equipment, schools along the Settle-Carlisle line can book in on a Friday and access a specialised learning space which takes its inspiration from the outdoors.

“It means we can offer something over and above the curriculum to children in this area of the Yorkshire Dales and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and inventors.”

The projects and social media manager of the Settle-Carlisle Railway, Katie Chesworth, added: “We aim to work with schools along the Settle-Carlisle Railway Line to encourage STEM education to as many schools as possible.

“We know how important STEM education is, and look forward to working with schools, and show the wide range of employment opportunities available within the rail industry.”

The Settle-Carlisle Railway provided some of the funding, sourcing further funds from Northern Trains, Avanti West Coast, Cross Country Trains, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Community Rail Network, Settle Rotary, and Settle Middle School Legacy Fund.