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The County Schools Challenge is a partnership project run across secondary schools in Northamptonshire.

Each year, it helps thousands of pupils learn about important social issues while teaching them invaluable skills.

With a different theme each year, pupils use a business approach to raise awareness and develop creative ways to tackle a social problem.

Most schools aim the challenge at Year 8 or Year 9 pupils and carry out an in-house competition to identify a team to go forward to showcase their idea to a panel of judges at a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style semi-final and grand final. 

Previous challenge topics include keeping young road users safe, drugs and psychoactive substances, healthy relationships, staying safe online, alcohol harm, tackling hate crime, violence, anti-social behaviour and arson.

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Teams present their ideas to a Dragons' Den style judging panel.

Why should your school get involved?

The County Schools Challenge aims to encourage students to think about the causes and consequences of people’s actions and identify solutions or prevention strategies.

It recognises the valuable role schools play in promoting messages that have a society-wide benefit, and enables agencies to listen to and learn from young people.

Participating students gain valuable skills such as delivering presentations, working in teams, finance planning, and undertaking research.

The County Schools Challenge can be used to help your school meet its objectives within PSHE, and the Ofsted inspection of safeguarding. 

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The Sky High project, developed by a team of pupils at Kingswood Secondary School, was the winning idea in the 2016-2017 Northamptonshire County Schools Challenge.

How the County Schools Challenge works

We will launch the challenge in your school, where you will be invited to showcase your best ideas within school assemblies and lessons.

You can recognise the work of your pupils through your own internal arrangements such as award ceremonies and certificates.

Your school will be invited to put forward a team to our semi-finals and a World of Work Experience that is held at Northamptonshire Police’s headquarters at Wootton Hall each summer.

As well as presenting their ideas to a panel of judges, students take part in interactive events and have tours of key aspects of Northamptonshire Police.

The top eight schools from the semi-finals will present their idea and business plan in a ‘Dragons’ Den’ format to a panel of business, public sector and community leaders, with prizes and certificates for those taking part.

The final then takes place at a community venue each July. 

Previous winning schemes have received funding and have been rolled out across the county, and in some cases, shared worldwide. The 2015/16 winners were featured on BBC Look East for their healthy relationships project.

The County Schools Challenge team will work with the winners to get the best long-term outcomes, providing great experience for your school and members of the winning team.

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Participating pupils also get the chance to find out more about the work of the emergency services as part of their semi-final experience.

How to get involved

The first step is to let us know whether your school will be rising to the challenge.

Email us at ncsc@northants.pnn.police.uk with details of your school lead to arrange the County Schools Challenge launch in your school.

Remember, all teams who take part are winners, whether in their own classroom, year group, house or school, or indeed at a county level.

Every effort helps make Northamptonshire a safe place for people to live, work and visit.

More information is also available by calling County Schools Challenge organiser Henny Cameron on 101, extension 345678.

You can follow the County Schools Challenge on both Twitter and Facebook.