A project to improve educational outcomes in West Cumbria has hosted a major event for school staff to share ideas and learn from local and national experts.

Around 140 educators including teachers, headteachers and teaching assistants attended MADE 24 (Making a Difference in Education) at Energus, Workington.

They took part in workshops and heard from keynote speakers on strategies to improve learning, school attendance and pupil wellbeing.

MADE 24, organised by Western Excellence in Learning and Leadership (WELL), is a project funded by Sellafield Ltd through the Social Impact Multiplied programme and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Dale Hill, director of the WELL project, said: "MADE 24 is about bringing schools together to collaborate.

"It’s a chance to come together to hear from experts in research-led professional development and take this work back into school.

"It is also about inspiring our valued teachers and headteachers."

News and Star: Around 140 educators in attendance at Energus, WorkingtonAround 140 educators in attendance at Energus, Workington (Image: INTROPR)

The project has seen participation from all 118 schools in West Cumbria, covering both secondary and primary.

So far WELL has supported 12,000 pupils, helped 5,000 disadvantaged children, trained 140 emotional literacy support assistants (ELSAs) and trained 200 staff in youth mental health first aid.

Some 92 per cent of schools have data to show positive impacts and all secondary schools show “strong positive impacts” for their WELL focused work.

Catherine Mallard, headteacher of St Begh’s Catholic Junior School in Whitehaven, said it was “fabulous” to be able to hear from national experts who would not otherwise come to West Cumbria.

“WELL has allowed us to build a dedicated team to focus on the particular challenges we face after the pandemic, particularly around mental health. We have two staff trained as ELSAs.

"They deliver intensive support to children who are struggling, one-to-one or in a group.

“WELL has opened doors to professional development and we work collaboratively [with other schools] so much now. Schools used to be mini kingdoms. Now we realise we face the same issues and help each other," she said. 

Nigel Youngman, headteacher of The Whitehaven Academy, spoke about how WELL afforded his school the opportunity to participate in a transformational programme, which encourages pupils to apply to prestigious Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

Every year, 80 students from years 10 to 13 receive coaching from a university admissions tutor on study skills and university application.