Sofia recruits teachers to champion offshore wind careers

Third group of Teesside secondary teachers joins the programme to educate young people about careers in offshore wind.

  • 03 February 2023

Sofia continues to build on its work with Teesside secondary school teachers and careers leads having kicked off the third year of its Champions for Wind careers programme this week, helping to bring offshore wind to life in the classroom.

The third cohort of teachers has officially joined Sofia's Champions for Wind programme, which means a total of 22 teachers and careers leads across 11 schools will be championing offshore wind careers to local young people aged between 11 and 18.

Sofia invited interested teachers to apply for the fully-guided programme where they are supported in the development of tailored curriculum materials in their specialist subject, with a focus on offshore wind and its associated careers.

A kick-off event held this week at Brockley Hall in Saltburn introduced the new teachers to the offshore wind industry, its wide range of job opportunities and to the 1.4GW Sofia project itself. Existing Sofia Champions for Wind also attended to give an update on their own subject-related initiatives and how they are integrating offshore wind into their lessons and school.

This year Sofia welcomes teachers and careers leads: Mike Fairbairn with support from Kathryn Smith (Egglescliffe School); Hannah Hughes (Outwood Academy Bydales); Emma Shaw supported by Jamie Norton (Mo Mowlam Academy); Andrew Hurst supported by Jonny Lowes (Archway Academy), and Jessie Baguley (Redcar and Cleveland College).

Hannah Hughes who teaches geography said: "Renewable energy is a core issue today. We are excited to be able to continue to promote careers education and geography education alongside Sofia and RWE".

Outwood Academy Bydales is familiar with the project having Sofia's landfall construction site just 200 metres from the school and an ongoing relationship which has already included history, geography, art and careers collaboration.

Another new teacher champion, Emma Shaw who teaches science said: "We have started the project to inspire our pupils around the future of renewable energy...including prospective careers on their doorstep".

The programme is overseen by education professionals Mike Cargill and Rich Hurst who will guide the teachers - providing training and support sessions, ensuring access to up-to-date offshore wind materials and by facilitating visits to the project's local construction sites.

Biology teacher Andrew Hurst said: "The opportunity to expose and introduce our learners to the possibility of a career in such an exciting and developing sector is fantastic. Offshore wind is going to play such an important part in their futures in terms of energy, it is vital that they also understand the roles that are open to them".

Careers lead Kathryn Smith said: "We are so excited to be part of Champions for Wind! We have so many students interested in STEM subjects, job roles and industries so we really want to ensure that wind (renewable) energy roles are at the forefront when students are thinking about STEM routes".

Feedback from existing champions has confirmed that through involvement in the project, students now have links to the vast array of job opportunities in their region and are showing signs of being inspired to consider STEM careers.

The teachers will now progress their ideas with a follow-up meeting due to take place at Sofia's onshore converter station construction site adjacent to Wilton International in Teesside where they will also have a tour of the facility that is now taking shape.

Sofia's Champions for Wind are:

Cohort 3 2022-2024



Champions project

Mike Fairbairn

Supported by Kathryn Smith (Careers Lead)

Egglescliffe School

Business Studies/ STEM

Hannah Hughes

Outwood Academy Bydales


Emma Shaw

supported by Jamie Norton

Mo Mowlam Academy


Andrew Hurst

supported by Jonny Lowes

Archway Academy


Jessie Baguley

Redcar and Cleveland College

Engineering Partnerships


Cohort 2: 2021 - 2023

Lauren Dawson

River Tees Middle

KS3 Maths, English and History

Kelly-Marie Gardner

supported by 

Sarah Walker

NET Freebrough Academy


Craig Wright

Outwood Academy Redcar

RE / History

Josephine Jones

supported by James Hannaway and Joanne Mitchell

Laurence Jackson School


Mike Reid

Redcar and Cleveland College


Cohort 1: 2020 - 2022

Louise Allison

Supported by:

Andrew Hurst 

Archways Educational Service

Careers & Science

Gemma Green

Outwood Academy Bydales


Gary Keeys

Redcar & Cleveland College


Anthony Foster

St Peters Catholic College


Malcolm Robertson 

Sacred Heart Catholic College