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Schools across the region invited to take part in the Wonder Challenge

Northern Counties Builders Federation (NCBF) supported by Constructing Excellence in the North East (CENE), is relaunching the North East Schools Wonder Challenge.

The sector bodies, along with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) North East Learning and Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and Newcastle City Council, are presenting teachers with the opportunity to have a ready-made project for students, assisting them in STEM subjects but also geography, design and English.

The Wonder Challenge was established nearly 20 years ago and has been revamped over the years, it was previously led by the CITB, Construction Industry Council and CENE.

It is a call to action to schools within the NELEP areas of Tyne & Wear, Northumberland and Durham to challenge year 9 and 10 students to form mini construction companies.

It will officially launch in schools on 29 November with students working to a series of submission dates, as they compete to win the contract to redevelop a chosen ‘brownfield’ area of land and also prepare a bid for the development of a new sustainable transport system.

The winning company will be selected at the grand final on 27 June 2024.

The scheme aims to highlight the diverse opportunities within the built environment, involving team work, graphics, design, presentation skills and report production.

The lead sponsor of the Wonder Challenge is the NCBF who will donate prize money to be equally split between the winning school and the top school team.

Angela Carney, vice chair of the NCBF, said: “I am passionate about changing the perception of the construction sector, to showcase that it is a career which offers a diverse and varied range of jobs. To do this we must reach out to schools and colleges.

“The NCBF has launched an ambitious campaign to work closely with the region’s colleges so that we are able to invite employers to meet with talented apprentices who are ready to take their first steps into the workplace.

“The Wonder Challenge bridges the gap with schools, highlighting to year 9 and 10 pupils the many opportunities that a career in construction can offer.

“It is a challenge that is divided into three main tasks, the first being setting up a team and company and ascertaining the site they wish to develop. The second is the development of a company proposal. The third task is for the top proposals to present their schemes to the judges at the grand final on 27 June 2024.”

Via the support of the CENE people group, which is one of four sector theme groups designed to showcase best practise across North East England, each team has access to mentors from within the sector and the opportunity to visit live construction sites.

Catriona Lingwood, chief executive at Constructing Excellence in the North East, said: “We are delighted to support the Wonder Challenge.

“It provides a fantastic insight for students to learn about the construction sector and to gain real life experience and guidance from people working in the industry.”

To find out more about the Wonder Challenge, please contact or


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