Returning for a fifth year, the action-packed event proved that girls from eight local schools across Yorkshire have the imagination, creativity, and teamwork to become the skilled engineers of the future. With the construction industry facing a serious skills shortage, encouraging young people – especially young girls – to consider a career in engineering, is critical to the UK economy.

Sponsored by SES, the competition challenged over 70 Year Six girls to work together to design and build their own hovercrafts, before racing their creations in an exciting knock-out tournament to determine the overall winner.

Throughout the day, the York girls’ Quaker senior school hosted workshops with Year Six girls from Belmont Grosvenor, The Mount Junior, St Paul’s Primary, St Wilfrid’s Primary, Terrington Hall and newcomers Hensall Primary.

The students worked together in teams alongside their own teaching staff and Sixth Form students from The Mount. Each craft was powered by a leaf blower engine in order to carry one ‘pilot’ from each team along a specially-built racing track.

At the end of the workshop the hovercrafts were judged for their design by Rachel Schofield, Planner, SES and following a thrilling race, The Mount Junior team was presented with the winning trophy.

Rachel Schofield said:

“Hovercraft Day has yet again been a great success. The girls showed persistence and innovation and the final designs were outstanding. It’s always inspiring to see the schools so passionate and supportive of their team mates and it really reflects the true spirit of the day. I have no doubt that in years to come some of these girls will be future SES employees – working on substantial projects in the community.

“As 2018 has been named The Year of Engineering, the Hovercraft Day perfectly replicates the campaign’s initiatives by challenging perceptions about engineering. Engineering touches every part of our lives however, not enough young people – especially young girls – think it’s a world for them.

“Equality and diversity have been a hot topic in the engineering sector for the last few years and it’s widely recognised that the industry is playing catch up.”

“SES believes that the responsibility lies with all industry workers to try and engage the younger generation, male and female, to inspire and equip them with the skills to face the exciting challenges of tomorrow.

“Hovercraft Day is an important, and most importantly, an incredibly fun day which helps show young women that a career in engineering is accessible, and that a career working on inspirational projects is awaiting them, if they want it.”

Rachel Schofield
Planner, SES

Adrienne Richmond, Principal, The Mount School continues:


“It’s amazing to think that the first group of girls who came to The Mount to take part in SES’ Hovercraft Day are now preparing to sit for their GCSEs.  I’d like to congratulate all of today’s participants and hope this experience will broaden their horizons for what they can do in the future. Engineers creatively apply scientific knowledge to solve physical and conceptual ‘real world’ problems; it is important that more girls and women choose to work in this field and influence our emerging future. Girls’ schools have a key role to play because, as research shows, girls at girls’ schools perform better in STEM studies. The Mount is the region’s leading all-girls school for A-Level results. Last year, around half of our Upper Sixth Form left to study STEM courses at university, with ten percent of leavers studying engineering.

“International Women’s Day is coming up on 8 March, and we hope that the girls who took part today will approach that day with a different perspective on how they can make a difference in the #PressForProgress campaign.”


Adrienne Richmond
Principal, The Mount School

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, said of the event:


“I support this event year on year and it’s wonderful to see The Mount School and SES Engineering Services again encouraging a future generation of female engineers.

“I hope SES’ annual Hovercraft Day events continue to encourage more girls to study engineering and physics and fill the skills gap the sector is currently suffering from. There really is no limit to what these girls can achieve.

“Hovercraft Day is a fantastic example of why The Year of Engineering and the Government’s commitment to ensuring we have a talented and forward-thinking engineering workforce is not only critical to a modern UK economy but to shaping how the world works.”


Rachael Maskell
MP for York Central

The teachers of all the participating schools were proud to see the girls work together and produce some innovative hovercrafts. Cheryl Snowden, Year Six Teacher, The Mount School described the event as ‘inspiring.’

Cheryl said:


“It was great to see the girls developing important team work skills such as leadership and communication. Most importantly they were able to interact with Rachel from SES and The Mount Sixth Formers, showing them that there is a place for females in the engineering and science communities.”

Cheryl Snowden
Year Six Teacher, The Mount School