Rail Forum Launches Free Rail Lessons for Schools

By Elaine Clark

Rail Forum is delighted to launch a suite of rail themed lessons aimed at Key Stage 3 students. Developed to reach students all across the UK, iRail aims to raise awareness of the vast array of careers available and inspire the next generation of rail professionals.

The lessons are freely available to schools to download from Rail Forum’s website. They have been designed so that teachers can deliver the material independently in the school environment, however, where industry volunteers ar available to go into school and support teachers, this is encouraged. The initial suite of five lessons are linked to the national curriculum and include lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, videos and all supporting activity resources. Subjects include problem solving, manufacturing, accessibility, sustainability, and engineering tolerance. Each lesson is stand alone with teachers able to mix and match to suit their needs. The lessons are further enhanced with a comprehensive project, comprising five further sessions, which involve students selecting the location for and designing a new main line railway station.

 Elaine Clark, CEO of Rail Forum said: “We encourage rail supply chain companies and in fact any employees within the rail industry who have relationships with their local schools to make them aware of these free rail themed lessons. Those who wish to play a part in inspiring the next generation of rail talent may also wish to volunteer to support the delivery of the materials in their local school.”

Mike Noakes, Head of Rail at the Department for Business and Trade said: “The rail industry is facing a critical skills shortage and recent analysis demonstrates the scale of this challenge. We need to use as many opportunities as possible to encourage more young people to consider rail as a career and we need more employers to then take action and commit to recruiting and training apprentices and graduates. These lessons from Rail Forum are a fantastic additional resource available to employers, and the schools local to them, to support the development of a future talent pipeline.”

The materials have been developed with support from Rail Forum members’ AtkinsRéalis, Alstom, Porterbrook, Morson Group, Bridgeway Consulting, Story Limited and Resonate. We would like to thank these organisations for helping to make the suite of lessons a reality.

Rail Forum has long supported the need for a future talent pipeline through our iRail activities, as well as supporting Primary Engineer and being an active member of the Routes into Rail Board. Latest research by the National Skills Academy for Rail* indicates that a third of the railway workforce is aged 50 or over, and the industry is at risk of losing significant experience and skills through retirement and other forms of attrition, with an estimated figure of 75,000 leavers by 2030. Rail Forum hopes that the lessons will inspire young people to consider careers in rail and help to both address skills shortages and improve diversity in the industry.

Rail Forum hopes to reinstate the iRail Challenge Days next academic year. Originally launched some 14 years ago these were paused during the pandemic. The day involves bringing a number of schools together to see the industry in action followed by participation in a STEM challenge activity. Elaine added; “To reinstate the iRail challenge will require industry partners to help fund and support the events. If any members are interested in finding out more we would be keen to hear from them and they can contact me on elaine@railforum.uk.  “

For further information contact:

Elaine Clark, Chief Executive Officer | 07890 791373 | elaine@railforum.uk

About iRail

Originally established by the Derby Railway Engineering Society some 15 years ago and adopted by Rail Forum in 2016, iRail began as a STEM Challenge Day for schools in and around the East Midlands. Over the years it expanded to include in-school days across the country (subject to funding) but was paused during the Covid pandemic. Aimed at 13-14 year olds, iRail aims to inspire the next generation of rail professionals raising awareness of and interest in the vast array of carers available.

About the Rail Forum

Based in Derby the Rail Forum is a national industry body with strong regional connections including supporting the nationally and internationally important rail supply chain cluster across the Midlands. Our 380+ members provide products and services across all aspects of the industry. The Rail Forum actively supports the national rail agenda and strategy, encouraging collaboration, promoting members’ capabilities, leading a number of skills initiatives and supporting innovation and export priorities. The Rail Forum is owned and governed by its members with a Board drawn from member companies.




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