Lifelong leadership learning in Cumbria

Case Study

Bright Stars- Valley Primary and Morgan Sindall


Business skills, confidence, raised aspirations and business contacts gained from competing in the Bright Star enterprise competition has enabled pupils from Valley Primary School & Nursery to turn their vision for a community gym into a possibility.

The Mirehouse Community Outdoor Gym was initially proposed by pupils at Valley Primary School at a World Café event hosted by Well Whitehaven. Pending funding approval, it is now on track to become a reality.

Bright Stars, now in its 7th year, is designed to help local businesses build better links with their local schools and introduce children as young as five to leadership and entrepreneurship by getting them excited about business.  The scheme helps children to showcase hidden talents, nurture aspirations and build confidence. At the same time, pupils raise money for charities and win funds for their schools while having fun along the way.

Valley Primary School Year 5 pupils won the Bright Stars 2019 award for Best Collaboration. The class – now Year 6 –  has continued with the gym project and has selected a preferred site and liaised with the landowner, analysed data from the survey, spoken to external companies, learned about VAT and finance and presented their plan to the local councillors. 

Surveys carried out by the children revealed the need for a gym that could improve lives by helping to get local people fit and active.

 They also proposed a teen shelter to provide a space for young people to gather – helping to minimise the risk of vandalism.  

Their mentor for Bright Stars, Gillian Johnston from Morgan Sindall Infrastructure is also a former pupil and offered to help the students to produce a funding bid for the outdoor gym. She explained: “As a company we find Bright Stars is hugely beneficial to us and the team who get involved. We now have a great relationship with Valley school, and this has allowed us to nurture the leaders we need for the future and to ensure they gain the necessary skills. There is also a longer-term benefit – creating awareness among the children of career opportunities which exist within local and national companies.”

Once funding has been secured the hope is for the gym to be utilised by the Mirehouse and other communities in Copeland to bring about improvements in both physical and mental health.

Year 5 teacher Charlotte Branney commented “The pupils loved their Bright Stars experience and wanted to build on the skills they had learned. Bright Stars has given them the confidence to share their ideas, to build their aspirations and to build links with Morgan Sindall Infrastructure and the business community. Through Bright Stars the children raised funds for their school and local charities but also learned that business is not just about making money, it is about making a difference”

Rosie from Valley School say’s ‘Bright Stars helped me to meet Gillian. After her support in school, I felt confident enough to approach her to propose the Outdoor Gym idea. Gillian has helped me to learn how to talk to other adults and given me a lot of confidence.’

Millie from Valley School says ‘Bright Stars taught me to think differently about problems. I used my Bright Stars experience to play my part in the outdoor gym bid, because I had a better understanding of how business works.’

CfLP Executive Director Sarah Glass says: “Raising the aspirations and confidence of Cumbria’s young people is a vital, and it is never too early to start. It is hugely exciting to see the children running their own businesses positively ‘light up’ as they taste success.  We want young people to aspire to work in local business sectors through this positive experience and gain the confidence and skills that they will take forward throughout their learning journey.”

CfLP works with business leaders and managers across the county to further develop their leadership skills.  Those leaders and businesses recognize that raising the aspirations and confidence of Cumbria’s young people and fostering an enthusiasm for working with local companies is vital for the future economy of the county.

Lifelong Leadership Learning in Cumbria