ALMOST 50 primary schools taking part in the 2021 Bright Stars challenge programme quizzed Cumbria’s MPs who shared their experience and tips about how to lead campaigns to change something the children care about.

Barrow & Furness MP Simon Fell and Westmorland & Lonsdale MP Tim Farron joined Cumbria’s four other MPs to take part in individual live online Q&A sessions with schools in their constituencies.

The sessions produced a huge variety of questions and answers about how they support their communities and lead change.

Mr Fell was quizzed about reducing litter and road safety and advised on how to start a campaign and make it stand out.

Mr Farron talked about why he became an MP, his campaign for cancer treatment at Westmorland General Hospital, and advised the children on how to get people to back their activity.

Bright Stars partners primary schools with local companies to help pupils set up and run their own mini businesses, encouraging leadership and a culture of aspiration and enterprise.

For Bright Stars 2021 the focus has shifted from making a profit – to making a difference by creating digital marketing campaigns to champion the worthwhile causes chosen by the children.

The innovative eight-week Bright Stars programme is delivered by the Centre for Leadership Performance in collaboration with businesses and schools and finishes on June 28.

Bright Stars is funded by local businesses passionate about nurturing the leaders of the future and getting kids excited about the world of business.

For 2021 a record 49 schools are involved with extra support from BAE Systems and Sellafield to encourage supply chain companies to join the programme, and from Cumbria Community Foundation to enable more charities to partner with schools.

All of the MPs supporting the programme have pledged to stay in contact with children as they build their campaigns.

CfLP Executive Director Sarah Glass said: “We are hugely grateful to Cumbrian businesses and our local MPs for supporting Bright Stars and enabling children to gain the full benefits of this fantastic opportunity.

"CfLP believes we can all step up and show leadership, and Bright Stars empowers children as young as five with the opportunity to make a difference and develop their leadership skills, confidence and self-belief. Bright Stars offers young people the opportunity to be inspired and see that their actions will be recognised and their voices will be heard.

"Pupils are exposed to positive role models from the world of business and the programme encourages leadership, building confidence as they showcase hidden talents and develop new skills."

To ensure the Covid-safety of everyone taking part, digital contact has replaced face-to-face interaction between children and their business mentors, and also reflects changes in the ways businesses are operating with more remote working and online collaboration. CfLP is celebrating ten years working with young people and businesses across Cumbria to develop and encourage leadership.

The schools taking part in Bright Stars in the Barrow & Furness activity are: Newbarns Primary and Nursery School - partnered with Orian Group), Victoria Academy – Oxley Group, Chetwynde Primary School – BAE Supply Chain Function, Vickerstown Primary School – Cap Gemini, Orsgill Nursery and Primary School – Rolls Royce, Sir John Barrow Primary School – MoD Royal Navy, Our Lady of the Rosary, Dalton – BAE Supply Chain Function, South Walney Junior School – Cap Gemini, St Mary’s RC Primary, Ulverston – Cap Gemini, Penny Bridge Academy - BAE Supply Chain Function