The parties involved in the development of the new £35m school in Baglan Bay have come together to launch a scheme that will help local pupils to learn new skills while getting a valuable insight into the construction industry.
Bouygues UK, the contractor appointed by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council to deliver the new school on Western Avenue in Sandfields, will be working with students from 13 local schools, including those that are due to move to the site once the new building has been completed.
Over 30 pupils aged between 7 and 16 years old will undergo training as well as make regular visits to the site throughout the building phase, so they are able to report back to their fellow pupils on the progress being made on the new school campus. The scheme is endorsed by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in Wales. Bouygues UK is the only contractor in Wales to deliver the scheme in conjunction with CITB Cymru Wales.
Speaking as the scheme was launched, Bouygues UK Regional Managing Director, Chris Stevens, said: “On complex developments like this, where several large schools will be coming together on a new campus, the School Construction Ambassador Scheme is a great way to involve pupils in the process from the early stages and help make the transition for those who are moving to the new school that little bit easier.
“The group gets to report back on the real-life progress that is happening with the new school and explain the technical, practical things that are taking place on site to their fellow pupils – demystifying some of the work that goes on behind the development hoardings.”
Students who take part in the scheme also benefit from training in activities like presentation skills and report writing, which can boost their self-confidence. Depending on their ages, participation in the scheme can go towards their Record of Achievement, CREST Awards or as part of the WJEC Welsh Baccalaureate Challenges, too.
Chris adds: “The pupils also get to learn a little more about the day-to-day of the construction industry, taking part in taster sessions for activities like bricklaying, for example. This is something that we, especially, are keen to promote – to try and get more people interested in joining us and working with us as part of a growing industry. The School Construction Ambassador Scheme is a great way promote careers in construction and for us to work directly with the people who will ultimately benefit from the work we are doing here on site.”
Councillor Ali Thomas OBE, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Despite the budget pressures we face, the investment in this and many other schools in the county borough demonstrates our commitment to education and providing the best possible opportunities for our young people.
“Through our strategic schools improvement programme, ‘Better Schools Brighter Prospects’, and working in partnership with the Welsh Government, we are creating the best environment for teaching and learning to help us improve standards, making sure the right schools are in the right place and that they are fit for 21st Century learners.
“Young people are our future and I am pleased to see that so many pupils have the chance to get involved in building their new school.”
Mark Bodger, Strategic Partnerships Director for CITB Cymru Wales, said: “It’s great to be working with Bouygues UK to train the School Construction Ambassadors on their new school site in Baglan Bay.
“We will be will running workshops for the Ambassadors, which will develop their presentation and writing skills. This will help them keep fellow students, teachers and parents up to date on the progress of the build. Along with regular site visits, the workshops will give the Ambassadors the opportunity to discover the careers available in the construction industry and make a link with the subjects they are studying at school.
“CITB is committed to working with the industry to inspire the next generation of construction employees. Initiatives like this provide invaluable experience of a construction project and showcase the successful and rewarding careers available.”