Primary pupils received a taste of what their future careers could be like when they kick-started what is the first partnership of its kind in the region.
The youngsters were told their dreams could come true and they could aspire to be whatever they wanted when they were invited to Teesside University for a special signing ceremony.
The university has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tees Valley Education which will enthuse youngsters from an early age about the vast array of education and career opportunities available to them.
It is the first partnership of this nature to be signed between Teesside University and a Primary Academy Trust and embeds a number of core principals and commitments.
These include collaborating on research opportunities, developing activities and events to raise aspirations, enthusing pupils and their families about the benefits of life-long learning and providing opportunities for children to work on bespoke projects.
There will also be a chance for pupils to celebrate their achievements through an annual graduation ceremony.
There are five primary schools within Tees Valley Education – Brambles Primary Academy, Discovery Special Academy, Dormanstown Primary Academy, Pennyman Primary Academy and Wilton Primary Academy.
A number of pupils from the five schools, along with their teachers, visited Teesside University for the signing agreement and they also got the opportunity to talk to senior staff and tour the facilities.
Katrina Morley, chief executive of Tees Valley Education and herself a Teesside University graduate, said: “We are delighted to be the first set of primary schools to be able to work with Teesside University in this way on a whole host of exciting projects.
“It is a fabulous opportunity which is a result of all the hard work the children have been doing. Our pupils are extremely committed and we constantly tell them that their dreams can come true if they believe in themselves and work hard.
“This partnership is about being special, being creative and brave and trying something new. We are all looking forward to a very exciting time working together.”
Rafe, from Wilton Primary Academy, said: “It has been an exciting day – when I grow up I would like to be an astronaut because you get to float around and it would be really cool.”
Charly, from Pennyman Primary Academy, added: “It has been good to come here and think about different careers. When I am older I would like to do something in medicine, like a doctor or a nurse.”
Professor Jane Turner OBE, pro vice-chancellor for enterprise and business engagement at Teesside University, spoke to the pupils about the importance of education.
She said: “We have some brilliant young people in this area and when you work in partnership with people with similar ideas and ambitions, amazing things can happen.
“This partnership will help to ignite passion and inspiration from a young age and will let the pupils know that if they have belief they can be anything they want to be.”
An additional aim of the Memorandum of Understanding is to enable Teesside University to obtain Qualified Teacher Status to increase the availability of qualified teachers in the Tees Valley.
Dr Helen Dudiak, associate dean for enterprise and business engagement in the university’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law, has been working for over a year to formalise the relationship with Tees Valley Education.
She said: “A large part of the partnership is about raising aspirations, not just for the children, but for their families too.
“They may also be considering coming back to university and we want to promote the message that you are never too young or too old to think about higher education and the different opportunities it provides.”