A group of pupils in Year 10 at St Peter’s RC High School in Manchester attended the AeroZone Education Centre at Manchester Airport as part of their BTEC Travel and Tourism studies.
Led by Joanna Jackson, the airport’s education coordinator, the overall aim of this free school trip is to raise aspirations and inspire pupils with the variety of careers on offer within travel and tourism.
The attraction, which opened this year, is the third AeroZone to launch, with other centres based at London Stansted and East Midlands Airport. The pupils were thrilled to have an opportunity to gain a hands-on experience of the various jobs available at the airport from operations, check-in and the security desk to air traffic control and cabin crew. They even experienced a flight simulator, which was the highlight of the day for many of them.
Travel and Tourism teacher, Mrs Illidge, who has significant experience of working in the industry, was impressed with the way in which the centre has structured their activities to complement the curriculum.
She said: “The entire experience opened the pupils’ eyes to the enormous number of job opportunities available to them.
“It also consolidated their knowledge of the BTEC course and provided them with an experience that otherwise they wouldn’t have had. In fact, many of our pupils had never been to an airport before.”
“The entire experience opened the pupils’ eyes to the enormous number of job opportunities available to them.”
Travel and Tourism teacher, Mrs Illidge
The pupils also received talks from customer service terminal managers and the airfield operations duty manager, who provided an insight into what their roles entail, how they started their careers, what qualifications and experience they acquired, as well as the support provided to them by Manchester Airport. This was said to be an incredibly rewarding experience for the pupils, as it gave them an understanding of the various careers and employability opportunities on offer at the airport.
Encouraging career aspirations
Macy-Mae Duffy, one of the Year 10 pupils to take part in the school trip, said: “I wasn’t expecting it to be such an immersive and interactive experience. It was brilliant to get the chance to use some of the equipment, such as the security scanner.
“I particularly enjoyed listening to Joanna and her colleagues talk about how they got into their roles and the qualifications and experience they have, as well as the many celebrities they have met, including singer Rihanna! I aspire to become a member of flight cabin crew, so this aspect of the day was very useful. In fact, I was also fortunate enough to be offered some work experience at the airport in the future and I am really looking forward for this.”
Clarice Osadolor, another pupil on the trip, said she loved seeing and hearing about the airport, as well as the diverse number of careers within it. “I really enjoyed the tour of the new Terminal Two and was taken aback when Joanna told us about the £1 billion transformation programme,” she said. “I also loved the flight simulator and the role play activities, particularly the security scanner and the duty-free shop. They were extremely realistic and gave a very good insight into what doing these jobs would be like.
The students were also encouraged by the talks that the members of staff gave to group, including Dean, the airfield operations manager, who told them how he had started out 39 years ago as a baggage handler and worked his way up the ladder. Clarice said: “This demonstrated how the airport develops its staff and supports their career choices. It also showed that you don’t have to stay in one job when you work there, you can move around within the organisation.”
Mrs Illidge added: “As their class teacher, I have noticed a real buzz of excitement and enthusiasm for the subject because of this visit. The students now believe employment in travel and tourism is within their reach. This is the point of vocational studies.”
Back in the classroom
“The experience has clearly consolidated students’ understanding of the importance of the aviation industry to the economy in Manchester. This is an important aspect of BTEC Unit 1 and helped the students realise just how significant this sector is within the Travel and Tourism industry. Unit 3 concentrates on the customer service experience and this visit gave them the opportunity to speak with customer service advisors, giving them true reflections of every day, managing customers and how important excellent customer service is for repeat business. Because they gave examples, the children were able to relate and understand better than reading from a textbook.”
Mrs Illidge, Travel and Tourism teacher at St Peter’s RC High School
For more information about organising a school visit to the AeroZone Education Centre at Manchester Airport send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.manchesterairport.co.uk/education.