THE innovative Bright Stars programme which partners primary schools with local companies to set up and run businesses is being expanded in Furness and Ulverston.

The project's expansion is being sponsored by BAE Systems who will be involving companies in their supply chain.

Bright Stars 2021 is changing to ensure the safety of everyone taking part and work within Covid-19 restrictions, with digital contact replacing face-to-face interaction and the focus shifting from making a profit – to making a difference championing worthwhile causes or campaigns chosen by the children.

The changes mean that the programme can continue to deliver huge benefits to children across the county, while ensuring the safety of everyone taking part within Covid-19 restrictions.

It will also reflect changes in the ways businesses operate with remote working and more online collaboration.

Almost 30 schools across Cumbria are set to take part in the 8-week programme starting in January 2021.

Bright Stars, now in its ninth year, is designed to introduce Cumbrian primary school children to leadership, entrepreneurship and teamwork and get them excited about the world of business in a fun accessible way.

t is organised and project-managed by the Centre for Leadership Performance (CfLP) and delivered and funded in partnership with local businesses.

The financial sponsorship from BAE Systems will enable six of its supply chain companies to partner with Bright Stars primary schools.

BAE Systems will also mentor two schools making a total of eight more South Cumbria schools involved in Bright Stars 2021.

Janet Garner Head of HR at BAE Systems in Barrow said: "BAE Systems is delighted to be a sponsor of the Bright Stars project in 2021.

"We see this as an opportunity to expand this successful project in the Furness area.

"t will offer local school children an opportunity to not only develop their leadership skills, but also offers them the chance to discover and team-up with companies in our supply chain. We look forward to seeing the ideas put forward by our areas future entrepreneurs."

The programme has delivered huge benefits for the children.

It enables them to learn about key business principles like innovation, budgeting, problem solving and delivering to deadlines, while linking with core curriculum subjects such as English, maths and design & technology. It also builds their confidence as they showcase hidden talents and develop new skills, nurturing creative thinking and aspirations, as well as giving them an insight into how businesses operate in their local areas.

For companies, Bright Stars creates on-going links with local primary schools, connects with young people and makes them aware of what they do.

It makes a positive impact on communities, raises their profiles as responsible employers, creates links to other businesses taking part and provides development opportunities for staff who get involved.

Ulverston-based Oxley Developments has been a long-time supporter of Bright Stars, working with several different schools in the area.

Marketing Manager Jayne Moorby said: “Bright Stars generates a tremendous feelgood factor for our staff and it reflects the pride which our business has in the local community.

"There is also a longer-term benefit - creating awareness among the children of career opportunities which exist within local companies.”

Facilities management specialist Orian Solutions based in Carlisle has also been involved in Bright Stars since its early days.

Clary Hayes from Orian said: “Bright Stars is a breath of fresh air for our company, and brings something new every year we take part.

"Looking at things outside our own core activities and approaching them in different ways helps to energize the way that we do business.”

For Bright Stars 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions contact between the schools and the businesses will be online through video chats, conference calls and email.

The children’s business teams will develop digitally-led marketing ideas and activities and will also compete to win funds for their schools with prizes in ten categories including best leadership and teamworking. But most importantly, the pupils and their business partners should have fun!

The children – aged from 5 to 11 – will work with their business partners to develop ideas to ‘make a difference’ with an issue, cause or campaign that matters to them. That could be anything that impacts their schools, their communities or the wider world.

CfLP Executive Director Sarah Glass said: “The children’s business fund-raising has always involved lots of contact with people through activities ranging from pop-up shops or concerts to bake sales or manufacturing gifts.

"That sort of contact is no longer possible with Covid-19 restrictions, so we got together with schools to rethink the competition.

“They embraced the idea of ‘making a difference’ because it empowers the children to bring about positive change.

"We will reintroduce the original Bright Stars elements next year, but at this time, working to make things better in our world seems very appropriate and we are confident the children will rise to the challenge with the help of their business partners.”

Any company or school wishing to find out more about Bright Stars can visit email or call her on 07843 684746 or 01900 824822