Teacher Danielle Lawler looks forward to another successful year for the Aintree Beacon Programme

Racing to School’s Aintree Beacon Programme is now into its fourth academic year, and we caught up with Maricourt High School’s Careers Leader, Danielle Lawler, to hear about the plans for this year and the impact of the programme so far.

The Beacon is a joint venture between Racing to School, Aintree Racecourse and the Aintree Equestrian Centre to support pupils from Maricourt High School and its four local primary schools, all of which are in the Aintree catchment area. It was set up with the initial goal of offering long-term education and careers provision for pupils in Year 5 right through to Year 13.

Experiences for life

Danielle, who has taken part in several activities as part of the Beacon, is very positive about its impact on the pupils at Maricourt:

“This whole programme is a learning journey for students and helps them build on their employability and enterprise capabilities each year. The relationship with Racing to School has led to real applied learning, both in and outside the classroom. I really don’t think you can put a price on the support and initiatives offered by this partnership and the students will remember these experiences for the rest of their lives.”

One journey can inspire many others

The area around Aintree Racecourse includes Merseyside and the borough of Sefton, which are ranked within the lowest 20% Index of Multiple Deprivation areas in the country. An important focus of the Beacon is to increase employability skills of the participants, and Danielle has an inspiring story to tell about progress in this area:

“A key example of a student who has really blossomed through this programme is Year 12 student Grace Anderson. Firstly, her contribution to the Year 8 Literacy Day gave her the opportunity to work as part of a team. Grace was very reserved and was more often an observer in the group. Grace’s team went on to win the literary competition and experienced a day at the races as special guests.

“In Year 9, Grace engaged fully with the employers and asked many questions to find out the wide range of jobs available. Grace really looked forward to the Year 10 Marketing Day, this time she took an active role and became one of the lead presenters to the panel. Grace was not in the winning team this time, but she surely was winning in developing her confidence.”

Support of Aintree Racecourse is vital

Grace’s journey continued when she applied for a week summer placement at Aintree Racecourse, when she was up against stiff competition. Her application letter and answers at interview helped to book her place for a week-long placement at Aintree. This opportunity allowed Grace to take part in the variety of activities have made her believe in herself and allowed her to reflect on her experiences.

Grace has now decided on a career as a dentist and is currently studying in Year 12. She has volunteered to do a speech about her time at school and how taking part in careers opportunities and meeting with various employers have shaped her direction. She is now ready to stand up in front of over 250 professionals at the Liverpool Tate Gallery at the end of January and tell them the importance of them getting involved in local schools to help support the employability of the workers of tomorrow.

“Who would have thought that Grace, the student who really had to push herself to get involved in the Year 8 Enterprise Day, would go on to speak at a conference in front of the Liverpool Metro Mayor?” added Danielle.

“I think what is key here is not just bringing racing into school, but the impact the continuous input and unique opportunities have had on shaping the future of a young person. The initiatives run by Aintree Racecourse, get many mentions in Grace’s speech, all of which she wrote herself.”

The Beacon is delivering

Grace’s story is exactly the kind outcome that the Aintree Beacon was set out to achieve and we are delighted to hear of her progress and her boosted confidence.

We are very thankful to all the staff at Aintree Racecourse, the Equestrian Centre, Maricourt High School and the four primary schools for their support in delivering the Beacon. Generous funding from The Racing Foundation, who have funded the project since inception, has allowed Racing to School to commit to supporting the Beacon to at least 2021.

Our objectives is for more stories like Grace’s and Danielle also has an eye on the future: “We are now excited to see the year 7s start their journey in June on the Beacon programme.”

Click here for more info about the Beacon