Four Inverclyde school pupils who have blazed a trail in a national motor racing contest were congratulated by Scotland’s deputy first minister.
The Inver Racers from Inverclyde Academy learned engineering skills and built their racing car as part of the Greenpower initiative between West College Scotland and Developing the Young Workforce (DYW).
Deputy first minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills, John Swinney MSP, visited the college to meet the Inver Racers ahead of their trip to the Formula 24 final at Silverstone in October.
The Inver Racers have had to run their team like a business – raising money and securing sponsorship from local businesses – and qualified for the international final at Silverstone after being crowned Scottish champions at the Greenpower Challenge competition in East Fortune.
They have set up an online fundraising page to cover their costs.
Mr Swinney said:
“My congratulations to the four pupils on making it to Silverstone with their cart, following in the tyre tracks of great Scottish racers like Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard before them.
“Inver Racers is a prime example of how DYW supports partnerships between schools and colleges to give young people the chance to broaden their horizons and gain real-world engineering skills which they can apply in the world of work.”
Stuart McMillan MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde met Inver Racers in June and was so impressed with the project that he decided to invite the education secretary for a visit.
“The Inver Racers’ passion for this project is plain to see, and they have done tremendously well to be named Scottish champions. That is why I wanted to highlight this brilliant initiative to the Scottish Government, and why I invited the deputy first minister.
“The boys appear more confident as a result of learning engineering skills and putting them into practice by building, operating and maintaining their F24 race car.
“I hope that more schools locally will consider getting involved with similar programmes because its unique opportunities like this that can open young peoples’ eyes to the wide range of career paths available to them.
“I’m grateful to the deputy first minister for visiting Inverclyde to meet the Inver Racers, and wish them well at Silverstone in October.”
West College Scotland principal Liz Connolly, who welcomed Mr Swinney to the college’s Finnart Street Campus, said:
“This shows how, with imagination and determination, young people can be engaged in engineering and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and have fun while learning. I have no doubt that this experience will allow them to take the fast track to a career in engineering, construction or another STEM subject.
“I also want to thank our staff at Greenock, who have mentored, encouraged and supported the boys throughout this project, even giving up their evenings and weekends to help secure the success of the Inver Racers. I wish them all the best for the big race in October.”
Bob Davidson, programme director for DYW West Region, said:
“DYW West is delighted that the deputy first minister met the Inver Racers Greenpower team today at West College Scotland. The pupils have done really well in the programme, culminating in winning the East Fortune race and cementing their place at the international final at Silverstone.
“Delivered by the college’s motor vehicle and engineering team, the Greenpower programme continues to go from strength to strength, with new teams for 2019/20 just getting started.
“DYW West will help them develop their employability skills and provide opportunities for teams to get in front of businesspeople to help with public relations and fund-raising. Greenpower is making an impact and changing young peoples’ lives for the better –- helping them gain access to courses and jobs that they might not otherwise have been able to without the experience and personal growth the Greenpower programme can deliver.”
Sabrina McCready, the depute headteacher at Inverclyde Academy, said:
“Greenpower has been a transformative experience for these four young people. In the past year, they have increased their problem-solving and critical thinking skills as well as their ability to work independently. However, it is the increase in confidence that has been far-reaching.
“All four of the boys were quiet and hard-working in school, but now they are confidently engaging with adults and other young people at authority and national level.
Meeting the deputy first minister today is the icing on the cake for their project, which has already garnered support from as far away as the USA, giving them the chance to engage with such an inspiring STEM project and massively improving their prospects as they navigate the fast-moving world of modern employment.
“The Inverclyde Academy community are incredibly proud of all they have achieved.”
Over the 2019/20 academic year, the Inver Racers team will now attend college for a vocational car body repair course alongside their schoolwork.
Inver Racers are the second group of pupils from Inverclyde Academy to participate in the Greenpower programme, with the initiative between DYW and WCS starting in the 2017-18 academic year.
For more information on DYW West, click here.