All aboard for Learning as new skills college and bus company help young people find their way

25 Aug 2015


A local bus operator and newly-launched vocational learning college have collaborated on a joint initiative to help young people make their way to the learning facility, and a student from Stockton is helping make that journey even easier.  

Delivered by Stockton Riverside College, the Skills Academy provides subsidised travel for students through its partnership with local bus companies. In order to help the young learners become familiar with their new bus route, and perhaps their first experience of travelling by bus, Stagecoach North East and The Skills Academy in Billingham have partnered together to create a video and treasure hunt which will help the young adults become more comfortable with travel. 

16-year old Charlotte Stobbs, a child care student and student mentor from Hardwick in Stockton, who will begin her studies at The Skills Academy in September, volunteered to help with the project. To raise awareness of bus journeys and how easy it is to use public transport, the young student helped film the 20 minute bus ride on a number 36 service from Stockton High Street to the college on Marsh House Avenue, accompanied by Skills Academy Manager Lorna McLean.

The journey was broadcast live using Periscope, an application similar to YouTube and also promoted via social media platform Facebook to the college’s followers and potential new students. The video will then be edited and promoted at the college’s induction day, to help familiarise the new learners with the process of using a bus and places they will pass along the route. In addition, students will also be offered guided rides with student mentors such as Charlotte.

Lorna McLean, Skills Academy Manager, said: “For most 16-year olds, parents have been the main mode of transport for getting around, so they may not have used bus before. We recognise that getting a bus can be strange and perhaps a bit daunting, especially with timetables and routes, so we are working with one of our travel partners, Stagecoach North East, to look at how our students could be more comfortable with coming to college on the bus. The video, which Charlotte is helping to film, shows how simple it can be to get from Stockton Town Centre to the college using just one bus. 

“At the Skills Academy, we want to instil a greater sense of self awareness and confidence in our students through our nurturing, learning community. We pride ourselves on our pastoral care, and provide a mentoring programme to support our young learners in getting ready for the world of study and work. As student mentor, even before starting her own course, Charlotte has already helped us over the summer to get prepared for the start of the academic year, including helping with the bus journey filming.“


As part of the initiative, Stagecoach North East and The Skills Academy are working together to create a virtual treasure hunt, where students hop on board a bus to the college and identify key points along the way, with a chance of winning £200 worth of prizes supplied by the local bus company, with every student receiving a goody bag.

Former Nunthorpe School pupil Charlotte, who hopes to take up a career as a nursery nurse, said: “It was good fun getting the bus and filming the journey to the college, and I think it will be really helpful for young people who might not have got on a bus before. I think the virtual treasure hunt is a great idea and I am looking forward to the challenge!

“I can’t wait to start my course in child care in September and the brand new Skills Academy seems like a really good place to begin my training.”

Helen Martin, Marketing Manager for Stagecoach North East, said: “We were delighted to get involved with The Skills Academy and to help young people find their way to new opportunities for learning, work and careers.

“We want to help young people make the most of their talents and skills, and the new vocational learning facility in Billingham offers a great chance for people to do this. For those who are unfamiliar with bus travel, we want to make their journey to college as smooth and easy as possible. The virtual treasure hunt is a great way for the new students to have some fun while getting a new experience of travelling by bus, and with the chance of winning a prize!”

The Skills Academy is a purpose-built learning centre offering a range of introductory vocational courses from construction and creative arts and media, to health and social care and foundation skills, alongside English and Maths, for young people aged 16 to 19. 

For further information about Stagecoach North East please visit our About us page.

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Pictures: Student Charlotte Stobbs with Skills Academy Manager, Lorna McLean on their bus journey from Stockton High Street to the new college in Billingham.