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  • West Yorkshire students driven to succeed at careers initiative with Bus Alliance

    Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College in Leeds has won the Bus to the Future Challenge launched by the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance and Ahead Partnership to encourage children to use greener transport for getting to school.

    Students from the college were announced the winners at an exciting virtual ceremony today (Tuesday 20 October) attended by volunteers from the transport sector.

    Wakefield’s Airedale Academy, Calderdale’s Brighouse High School and Creative & Media Studio School from Kirklees were all highlighted as worthy finalists in the competition, which began in December 2019.

    Taking place via Microsoft Teams, the finale of the Bus to the Future Challenge was the culmination of an initiative involving 65 Year 12 students representing schools or colleges from each of the five West Yorkshire districts. They were challenged to create a marketing campaign, including a film, encouraging younger school pupils to choose a greener form of transport and consider getting the bus to school in the future.

    The marketing challenge forms part of a wider engagement programme with Ahead Partnership, a social enterprise based in Leeds, to help young people understand the breadth of local transport career opportunities and encourage the use of public transport to reduce emissions.

    The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance aims to put customers at the heart of improving services, keeping buses moving and developing a sustainable bus network, with members including operators Arriva, First Bus, Transdev and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and local council representatives.

    Initially, students from across Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield took part in engaging workshops with West Yorkshire Bus Alliance volunteers, learning about the benefits of bus travel and then developed a film with the support of industry experts from Reel Film. The marketing campaigns and films were launched at school assemblies to 485 students aged 10 to 12.

    The final of the Bus to the Future Challenge had been scheduled for 1 April 2020 but could not take place due to the closure of schools on the outbreak of Covid-19. The final was therefore moved to a digital and virtual format, with judging happening remotely.

    Faron Convey, Project Coordinator for Bus to the Future at Ahead Partnership, said:

    “It has been wonderful to celebrate the finale of our Bus to the Future Challenge digitally, giving special recognition to the hard work and learnings of the young people across the region that took part.

    “Despite the changing circumstances, issues around transport sustainability remain extremely important, so we were determined to deliver the challenge to the full and bring our partners together to recognise the efforts of all involved.

    “Adapting our work to ensure that we continue to deliver meaningful activities for young people and businesses remains a priority for us, and we look forward to delivering further impactful work with valued partners in this sector and beyond.”

    Aine Hardcastle, Head of Business at Notre Dame Catholic College, said:

    “We were absolutely thrilled that our college was named the winner of this exciting challenge. The students worked incredibly hard on their entry and learned a lot from engaging in the developmental activities – both in terms of understanding more about the career opportunities available to them and inspiring them to think a little greener.”

    Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport committee, added:

    “I was delighted to see so many students take part in the Bus to the Future challenge and really engaging with the programme, as making bus travel more attractive, accessible and affordable for young people across West Yorkshire is one of the key aims of the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance.

    “By forging relationships with Ahead Partnership and other groups across West Yorkshire, the Bus Alliance is in a strong position to encourage young people to think about the important role public transport plays in their communities.”

    Having undertaken careful planning to ensure that they can continue to provide support and deliver meaningful activities that make a positive impact upon young people and employers alike, Ahead Partnership has recently developed its careers and skills initiatives offer to be digitally flexible.

    Forming part of this necessary move, the Bus to the Future Challenge has seen Ahead Partnership adapt the initiative to meet the needs of changing circumstances, ending with the October digital finale. All four of the finalist films can now be viewed at Ahead Partnership’s website: aheadpartnership.org.uk/bus-to-the-future-2020/