Some of Hampshire’s high profile school construction projects are to be turned into a unique learning experience for children – thanks to a Hampshire County Council-led initiative currently up for a National Constructing Excellence Award.
Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Cllr Peter Edgar, said: ‘As we expand our school estate to accommodate burgeoning pupil numbers, there are many construction projects going on in our schools.
“Schools often find ways to engage children with the process of a building project; but with the new toolkit, structured activities and learning plans will be readily available.
“Covering all key stages and areas of the curriculum, it makes it much easier for schools to turn the construction work into a learning opportunity.
‘Seeing how theoretical knowledge is put into action in the real world is so important for pupils – particularly in construction-related careers, where there is a known skills gap and a need to inspire the new generation of architects and engineers.
“It’s great to see these building projects, which are already improving the physical spaces in our schools, bringing educational benefits as well.”
The Educational Opportunities working group, a partnership between Hampshire County Council, Reading Borough Council and building contractors who work with the two authorities, is helping to turn construction in schools into an inspiration for lessons.
They have put together an Educational Opportunities Toolkit to give pupils an insight into construction projects. It can be used for a variety of age groups and different curricular objectives, with activities that cover planning, building, and even maintaining a school.
It develops problem-solving and project management skills, raises awareness of health and safety and environmental considerations, and can offer a glimpse of new technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM). It also gives children an opportunity to learn about the wide variety of careers on offer in the building industry.
The group’s work, which so far has been used in nine Reading schools and is expected to be rolled out to some Hampshire schools in the near future, has been shortlisted for the Constructing Excellence Awards, in the Leadership and People Development category. This category looks for exemplary workforce development, skills and training, equality and diversity initiatives, and improvements to health and safety and the working environment. The awards ceremony will be held on 2 July.
Executive Member for Income and Capital Receipts, Cllr Mel Kendal said: ‘Public building projects, such as school improvements, can be costly. Hampshire County Council works collaboratively with other councils such as Reading on building projects, primarily to bring economies of scale and ensure that taxpayers get the best possible value for money out of each project.
‘However, cost savings are just the beginning. This initiative clearly shows the extra benefits of collaborative working. By pooling our efforts we can resource extra schemes, such as this educational working group, which benefit the children and also help to build good relationships between schools and construction teams.
“The on-going growth in the construction industry is also something we’re pleased to support by inspiring young people to get involved – today’s school pupils will be tomorrow’s engineers and surveyors.”