Taking construction to schools in the Channel Islands

30 September 2019 | By Marc Burton

Marc Burton, chief executive of Channel Island operations, Garenne, on a schools initiative to get construction onto the curriculum.

We are involved with our JV partner Sir Robert McAlpine in a large infrastructure project. As part of our bid we put forward a legacy strategy with a large emphasis on promoting careers in construction.

As part of this, I was introduced to Alison Watson from Class of Your Own, who had written a STEM-based learning programme, Design Engineer Construct! (DEC). Straight away, I knew this was the opportunity for the industry to be on the school curriculum and give us the opportunity to develop working relationships with the schools.  

The client, Government of Jersey, loved it, as did Skills Jersey, and we set about establishing a pilot programme for DEC with one of the secondary schools on the island.  

DEC is fantastic as it allows students to use Revit to develop BIM models and produce feasibility proposals for a project of their choice. This is high-quality work, putting into practice STEM-based subjects, which in turn improves their marks in the subjects.  

For our pilot programme we had 22 pupils studying DEC Level 1. The course is run after school every Tuesday evening and all 22 have completed the Level 1 studies.

Working with Skills Jersey, DEC is now recognised as a GCSE equivalent in Jersey. We have been promoting the success of the pilot to other schools: we will have one school joining the programme from September, plus a further school and Highlands College offering Level 2 and 3 from September 2020.

Skills Jersey has also introduced Primary Engineer into the nursery and primary schools – over 700 pupils have access to the course.

In the space of 12 months we have firmly put construction on the school's curriculum – establishing a pathway right from nursery schools though to getting a master’s degree in construction through our local college.

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