Inspiring future trailblazers

Katie Bulmer-Cooke - Tees Valley Trailblazers

The STEM team at RTC North are ‘blazing a trail’ in delivering a fantastic ‘Dragons Den’ style challenge to engage, educate and inspire over 3000 young people in the Tees Valley.

Now more so than ever, the STEM team believe it’s important to continue to inspire young people and help their development and learning by offering them great opportunities.

The Tees Valley Trailblazers challenge has been designed to help key stage two children discover their entrepreneurial flare. Pupils will be tasked with developing their own business and will need to create and sell a product or service and submit their idea to a panel of judges. The finalists will then be invited to pitch their idea to a group of business experts in the hope of securing an investment. The challenge will be delivered as part of a Primary Careers Education pilot launched recently by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.

Launching the challenge will be Katie Bulmer-Cooke, a North East fitness entrepreneur who hit our screens back in 2014 when she made it to week 10 of the BBC’s “The Apprentice”. Katie was keen to be involved in this challenge to help raise the aspirations and potential of the regions young people.

Katie is a self-professed hardworking northern lass, who started her first business at the age of 16, and now has 17 years’ experience in the fitness industry. She is a former UK Personal Trainer of the Year and UK Fitness Professional of the Year. Since appearing on the Apprentice Katie has gone on to work with a range of different clients in different areas of health and fitness, working with celebrities, sports personalities, and social media influencers to create digital fitness plans. Katie also helps start-up businesses and SMEs grow and develop their businesses through online coaching and speaking at events. She hopes to bring some of this passion and knowledge to the launch event of Tees Valley Trailblazers.

Katie Bulmer-Cooke - Tees Valley Trailblazers

“I am so excited to be asked to officially launch the Tees Valley Trailblazers competition. It is so important that young people are given the opportunity at an early age of understanding what the world of work could look like for them. Being enterprising is such an important skill to have whether you are part of a large organization or running your own business. Resilience, problem-solving, communication, leadership and team-working are skills that we all need to be successful, not only our business lives, but every day.”

Currently, most careers provision for young people is focused on Secondary School pupils, however existing research highlights that in primary settings Enterprise Education can shape and broaden career aspirations, help young people understand the world of work and develop social and non-cognitive skills.

Tees Valley Trailblazers is a programme designed to do just that. Working with local businesses to bring first-hand experience and expertise to the students. Helping to broker strong relationships between local business and schools whilst also providing the students with an amazing experience to learn from local successful entrepreneurs. The challenge has received great support from local businesses who are keen to engage with young people and help make a positive difference to this challenging year.

The programme has been designed with the pandemic in mind as a result of so many pupils being forced to continue their learning from home. The challenge will be delivered online with business personnel from across the region, giving up their time to provide interactive online workshops, mentoring sessions and webinars.

Claire Willis, Education Relationship Manager at RTC North is thoroughly looking forward to the challenge and its potential impact, she said: “The Tees Valley Trailblazers competition is a unique opportunity for Tees Valley pupils to be involved in something new and exciting in their region. So many schools and pupils have had a really difficult time over the past year and we wanted to give them the opportunity to participate in something fun but also educational. Research shows that many young people make career limiting choices before they reach secondary school, with little (or no knowledge) of the employment opportunities that are open to them. This competition not only will showcase a diverse range of careers but also encourages local businesses to work alongside pupils providing role models and an insight into the businesses essential to the Tees Valley.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and it’s never too early to encourage and inspire the business leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and give them the tools to start on the path to a good-quality career. I’m delighted to be supporting this challenge, coming just one month after I launched the £750,000 Primary Careers Education pilot to provide top-quality careers education for primary school pupils across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

“Tees Valley Trailblazers will be a valuable opportunity for pupils to stretch their entrepreneurial muscles and engage with real-life business experts to help them start thinking about the opportunities which could lie ahead here in the Tees Valley.”

Are you a school or business in the Tees Valley area who shares our passion for raising the aspirations of the next generation? Do you want to support us in inspiring Key Stage 2 Primary students to help them discover their inner entrepreneur? Please contact for more information or to express your interest. Find our more here.

Return to list