Today (Wednesday 28 August) the Deputy First Minister (FM) and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, visited Greenock to meet the Inver Racers ahead of their trip to Silverstone in October.
The Inver Racers are four pupils from Inverclyde Academy, and they gladly welcomed the Education Secretary to West College Scotland’s (WCS) Greenock campus to show off their F24 racecar. The boys themselves were able to build this racecar by attending the college to learn engineering skills as part of an initiative between WCS and Developing the Young Workforce (DYW).
On top of this, the Inver Racers have had to run their team like a business – raising money and securing sponsorship from local businesses – and they were crowned Scottish champions at the Greenpower Challenge competition in East Fortune.
As a result, they are now fundraising so they can compete in the International Final at Silverstone on 17 October 2019.
Stuart McMillan MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde met the Inver Racers in June and was so impressed with the project that he decided to invite the Education Secretary for a visit.
Commenting, the local SNP MSP said:
“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 FM.
“The boys appear more confident as a result of learning engineering skills and putting them into practice by building, operating and maintaining their F24 racecar. 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 FM for visiting Inverclyde to meet the Inver Racers, and wish them well at Silverstone in October.”
Education Secretary John 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.”
WCS Principal, Liz Connolly, who welcomed Mr Swinney to the College’s Finnart St Campus, said:
“This shows how, with imagination and determination, young people can be engaged in engineering and other STEM 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 are delighted that the Deputy FM met the Inver Racers Greenpower team today at WCS. 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 business people to help with PR and fundraising. 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, Depute Head Teacher at Inverclyde Academy, commented:
“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 FM 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.