Two former Borrow Wood Primary School pupils returned to the school in Spondon, nearly 10 years after they left, to inspire pupils about engineering.
Bradley Vickery and Evan Barnett are both now apprentices at Rolls-Royce. They delivered sessions, alongside other apprentices from Rolls-Royce, which were designed to excite pupils about engineering through interactive activities.
Bradley, 20, is an Engineering Technician at Rolls-Royce and works to maintain machinery at the company.
He joined the business in September 2020 and will finish his degree apprenticeship, working through the University of Derby, in 2026, after which he hopes to continue to work at Rolls-Royce.
For Bradley, the visit to his former school, now part of the Odyssey Collaborative Trust, allowed him to catch up with former teachers.
“It was amazing returning to a place in which I have very fond memories of. What I found was the school seemed smaller than I had remembered, which is down to me probably being much smaller when I was there!
“It was also great to see my old head teacher Mrs Fletcher, and an old teacher I had in Year 5, Mr Saeed. It was also great to see all the children have big smiles on their faces; clearly enjoying themselves at school.
“It felt like I had come full circle. I couldn’t help but think that 10 plus years before I had been in their shoes, and it had felt so fast to reach the point where I’m at now.”
Evan, now 18, was also struck by how much smaller the school looked as an adult.
The Nuclear Engineering Technician Apprentice said: “It felt a bit strange being back at first as it looked the same as when I was there a long time ago. It also felt a lot smaller than I remember it to have been, as when you compare it to the size of the place in which I am working now, it’s minute!”
Evan had his sights set on an apprenticeship from the moment he finished his GCSEs.
“I always thought that it was the best route for me as I enjoyed engineering from a small age, so it was a no brainer. I would encourage any young school leavers that want to go into engineering to do it the way I did and get an apprenticeship, whether it’s at Rolls-Royce or not. Earning whilst learning is the best way.
“My role as an apprentice is good because you get to explore most of the business, not just staying in one particular part. It helps you to find out exactly where you would like to focus on going in the future.”
For Evan, there was also a sense of pride in returning to his former primary school.
“I was proud in myself in a way that I was once sitting there as a pupil myself listening to the same kind of talks and undergoing the same workshops when I was younger, to now being able to switch roles and stand up there myself and teach and guide other people into the apprenticeship and engineering route, it felt good.”
Bradley said there are many things he enjoys about his apprenticeship and working for Rolls-Royce as well.
“I love the balance of education provided by the University of Derby and working on the job alongside fully qualified engineers. I also love being in a working environment opposed to being in a more classroom-based environment, and it’s certainly a bonus that I get paid at the same time for working towards my qualification!
“Most definitely the fact that every day is different in my role; I never know which machines might happen to breakdown, the challenges of problem solving which consist of fault finding, and then understanding what actions to take to be able to repair the machine after. I also really enjoy being part of a team who I get along very well with, and being able to go around the world to learn about the different machines we have in our factory, in which the training provides us knowledge on how they work and how to fix them.”
Current Borrow Wood Primary pupil, Jay, in Year 6, said he enjoyed the workshops.
“I learnt how they are building something for the moon and it was cool how two of the people that came used to come here when they were kids.”
Head teacher Zoe Fletcher said: “It was lovely to welcome Bradley and Evan back to their old primary school and for our current pupils to hear from them and learn so much about engineering in such a fun way.”