Air traffic control lessons get off to a flying start at Ayrshire schools

15 March 2018

Leading air traffic services provider NATS has partnered with Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire to help bring aviation into the classroom for primary and secondary school children in South Ayrshire.

Launched in February, the NATS Academy project focuses on applying air traffic control to children’s learning in a fun, interactive way.

Children at Alloway Primary School were taken back in time as they learnt the history of air transport since the early 1900s, and at Prestwick Academy pupils received a geography lesson in map reading with a NATS twist.

Andrea Kirkhope, a manager at NATS’ air traffic control centre in Prestwick, who took part in the project, said: “We’ve always been active in the community as a business, but we were especially keen to work with our local schools to help encourage the next generation to consider a career in aviation.”

“So far it has been very different from the day job, but hugely rewarding and great fun.”

NATS’ Prestwick control centre, which opened in 2010, provides air traffic services over the North East Atlantic, Scotland and parts of northern England, is the biggest private employer in Ayrshire and is also committed to supporting local STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) initiatives.

Tony McCafferty, Business Liaison Officer for Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire, said: “We are delighted that a high-profile employer such as NATS has created the NATS Academy project. By linking the skills they use in their jobs directly to the curriculum, the team are able to contextualise learning and make it more relevant to the pupils.”

“The additional benefit of being able to speak about the range of careers at NATS Prestwick, as well as the entry requirements for the Air Traffic Controller positions, add value to both NATS and the schools as it shows young people they don’t necessarily have to have a degree to enjoy an excellent career.”

“Furthermore, this is precisely the kind of school/employer relationship that the Scottish Government identified in the Wood Report in 2014, and we are committed to supporting this project for as long as is required.”

The aim is for NATS to work with locals schools to deliver six-week blocks of lessons in the near future.


Pictured: Children at Prestwick Academy and Alloway Primary School during their lessons with NATS.

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