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School pupils take part in Spanish Apprentice challenge

Published December 01, 2022 11.20am

Business savvy school pupils are encouraging Spanish tourists to visit County Durham.

The Spanish Apprentice challenge has seen teams of pupils from seven schools complete a series of language-based tasks in a bid to persuade Spanish people to visit Bishop Auckland.

Putting Bishop Auckland on the map

Organised by ourselves and Durham University and supported by The Auckland Project, the challenge saw pupils in Years 9 and 10 supported by the university's undergraduates.

The challenge involved 13 teams from seven schools competing: Bishop Barrington Academy, King James I Academy and St John's Catholic School and Sixth Form, which are all based in Bishop Auckland, as well as Biddick Academy, in Washington, Castle View Enterprise Academy, in Sunderland, St Hild's CofE School, in Hartlepool, and Kings Priory School, in Tynemouth.

Each team presented a pitch to the Hon Spanish Consul for the region, Santiago Fouz-Hernandez, who took on the role of a Spanish tour operator for the day, with the aim to encourage a Spanish tour company to include Bishop Auckland on a tour of the United Kingdom.

'Building on brilliant ideas' 

Spanish Apprentice challenge - winning team

The winning team from St John's Catholic School and Sixth Form with Dr Penelope Johnson, associate professor at Durham University, (right) Professor Santiago Fouz-Hernandez, Hon Spanish Consul (second from right)

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: "The Spanish Apprentice is a fantastic opportunity for young people to develop their language skills and gain an experience of tourism and marketing industries.

"As well as inspiring school pupils and helping them to learn, it also gives us an opportunity to consider how we can continue to increase the number of visitors to Bishop Auckland. The town has so much to offer and with more exciting plans in place to regenerate the community further, we want to build on the brilliant ideas shared by students during the challenge."

The event aimed to support young people in developing the skills needed for a growing tourism economy, particularly one which meets the needs of overseas visitors.

Dr Penelope Johnson, associate professor at Durham University, said: "The School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham University is always happy to collaborate with Durham County Council to promote the learning of languages in the local area.

"During the academic year 2021-22, 57 language ambassadors from the university delivered over 230 hours of engagement activities to our local primary and secondary pupils such as creative translation sessions, escape rooms, the language detective project. They also participated in master classes during the Express Yourself Northeast Festival of Languages. Having the opportunity to run it in Bishop Auckland has made the Spanish Apprentice challenge much more engaging and real for the pupils."

Making the town a better place to live, work and visit

Edward Perry, chief executive officer at The Auckland Project, said: "We are delighted to be hosting the Spanish Apprentice challenge at The Auckland Project for the first time this year. Our attractions exist to build a brighter future for Bishop Auckland through tourism, and we work hand-in-hand with the local community to make the town a better place to live, work and visit. The young people of Bishop Auckland are at the heart of this vision, and we have been truly inspired by their enthusiasm and enterprising ideas.

"We opened the Spanish Gallery in October 2021 to celebrate the remarkable connection between Bishop Auckland and Spain and, with the help of our young people, we look forward to welcoming more Spanish visitors to Bishop Auckland in the future."

A team from St John's Catholic School and Sixth Form won the challenge.