Ford Next Generation Learning Goes International, Adds UK to Innovative Network

New Ford NGL community to help address skills shortages and youth unemployment


GATESHEAD, U.K. — Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) is transforming high school education across the United States by connecting communities, local businesses and educators to blend classroom learning with essential workplace skills and real world experience. Now, the nationwide Ford NGL network has taken its successful model across the Atlantic Ocean and designated its first international Ford NGL community in the United Kingdom.

Young females standing in line with one speaking at podium
Photo by Jon Challicom

The North East of England has been selected as the newest Ford NGL community. Three pioneering local schools, Excelsior Academy, Churchill Community College and Norham High School have been introducing elements of the Ford NGL education model into the school curriculum, with the support of education nonprofit The Edge Foundation and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP). The U.K. schools have been following the Ford NGL ‘road map' and bringing together local employers, students, parents, teachers and community groups to outline the skills, knowledge and attributes young people will need to successfully pursue higher education, training or employment when they graduate.

Each school's Industry Alignment Manager initiates and manages relationships with local businesses who work with teachers to create student projects that solve real-world problems and make learning in the classroom relevant to the workplace. This project-based approach also gives students opportunities to develop critical skills in communication and team work, while giving them valuable insight to make informed choices on potential careers.

"We witnessed first-hand the incredible work Ford NGL has done in the United States and could see clearly it could benefit young people, communities and local economies in the U.K.," said Alice Barnard, CEO, The Edge Foundation. "Using project based learning, profound employer engagement and involving the whole community is a compelling approach to learning which has been shown to help young people thrive, regardless of their background or assumptions about their abilities."

"We are still early in the process of piloting elements of Ford NGL in three schools, but the feedback has been great in terms of student engagement, skills development and confidence building," said Debbie Chennells, Ford Motor Company Fund manager, Ford of Europe. "We are recruiting the next three schools to join the program in September and 28 schools have applied, proving there is interest from schools and teachers to really make a difference in their community."

The Ford NGL model in the U.S. is increasing academic achievement, lowering dropout rates and impacting local economies by generating a strong talent pipeline for employers in the area. The Edge Foundation introduced Ford NGL to the U.K. and has been working in partnership with the NELEP to address skills shortages and youth unemployment across the region.

"It has been inspirational to see pupils and parents working with employers and community groups to discuss what skills and attributes are needed," said Claire Goodwill, principal, Milburn School, Excelsior Academy. "On the days that project based learning takes place, attendance is excellent and the behavior incidents that we log are lower on those days. It really is having an impact."

"Ford NGL research has proven that community ownership and accountability is just as important to educating our children as good study habits and hard work," added Cheryl Carrier, executive director, Ford NGL. "The Ford NGL partnership gives students and teachers a competitive edge that improves their chances for future success and will benefit the workforce and economic development needs of a region for years to come."

This coming fall, a delegation from the U.K. will attend the Academies of Nashville Study Visit in the U.S. to continue learning about the Ford NGL approach to the career academy model and envision how implementation may look in the second group of U.K. schools. The goal is that schools in cohort two will build upon the foundation set by the pilot schools and learn from their examples.

Students and teachers from Excelsior Churchill and Norham