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20 October 2022

Epsom Downs Racecourse connects local students to racing through new Beacon project

The team at Epsom Downs Racecourse is working alongside Racing to School on a new project to support the students of Blenheim High School and Nescot (Epsom’s North East Surrey College of Technology) to introduce them to Epsom’s famous racing heritage. 

The first two events were delivered in September and the year-round Beacon programme is designed to connect students with their local horseracing industry, to enrich their learning and expand career horizons.

The project, which has also been supported by Godolphin, is a collaboration that will generate a series of bespoke events involving Jockey Club staff at Epsom Downs and access to racing’s assets in the region. 

Racing to School delivers three other distinct Beacon Projects involving The Jockey Club’s racecourses at Aintree and Newmarket, as well as across Yorkshire’s nine racecourses.

“As with the other Beacons, the new programme at Epsom will be guided by the needs of the students with the objective to provide unique and relevant interventions through the power of racing,” said charity CEO John Blake.

“The Jockey Club team at Epsom already had good relationships in place with the school and college and they have led the scope of this project. The input from Nick Froy (former head of the Newmarket Academy) to his Epsom teaching colleagues about the impact these activities can have on students was also very helpful in generating a desire to start the work.”  

Simon Durrant, General Manager of Epsom Downs Racecourse, said: “Making a positive contribution to our local community is a key part of our ongoing work at Epsom Downs, and we are really excited at the opportunities presented by this new project. 

“It was wonderful to have the students here and to explain not only about Epsom’s amazing heritage and history, but also how the racecourse and training grounds work in 2022 and great opportunities that we can provide for exciting and fulfilling careers.

“We are looking forward to meeting more students from the local area and showing them behind the scenes of one of the local area’s unique sporting venues.”  

“It was a fantastic day”

Blenheim High School’s year 8 students attended the first event – a Racing to School numeracy-focused day at Epsom Downs racecourse in early September. These popular education days explore the racecourse through interactive tasks designed to challenge and extend learning. Visiting the weighing room, the parade ring, out onto to the track, the group of 45 was encouraged to consider how the maths they have learned in the classroom applies to a real-world setting. 

Matt Everest, Assistant Headteacher Curriculum added: “It was a fantastic day and a brilliant team.  I was very impressed with the whole day.  The students loved it, and we are keen to look at more events across year groups.  I would like these events to become a standing item every year in our calendar.”

At the end of last month, it was the turn of Nescot’s Year 12 and 13 students who were invited to a special day at the racecourse arranged by Simon Durrant. He and his team introduced the programme and challenged the group to consider ways in which their own studies could connect with the industry through future career pathways. 

More activities for both sets of students will take place within this academic year.

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