Wednesday 27th February 2008 by C. Freeman
Students at Brooke Weston have been learning basic construction skills at a purpose built training centre. The Year 10 students have been studying brickwork and electrical installation as part of the City and Guilds foundation course, and are due to start new modules on plastering and plumbing. The 13 students spend one day a week at the Corby Training Academy learning practical skills backed up by taught theory.
The training academy, based on the Oakley Hay industrial estate, is a joint initiative between training company MET UK and Corby Borough Council. It has been running for 18 months offering vocational training in construction skills to students from all four Corby secondary schools. Managing director, Mike Warburton, employed by MET UK, set up the centre after a previous one in Rotherham proved a success. There are plans that the Corby site, which currently offers about 5,000 square foot of training space will be expanded so more students can take advantage of its facilities and specialist training.
Mike said: 'Students are treated as adults when they're here because the whole ethos is that we're preparing these young people for the world of work. I don't think they've made their minds up about what they want to do but I would say that well over half of them would want to go into the trades side; bricklaying, plastering or plumbing. It gives them the opportunity to think about a more academic route as well with roles like project and site managers, quantity surveyors and architects. It gives students an understanding of the principles of building so it may be that some of them may ultimately go on to university and come into the industry that way.'
The foundation level city and guilds course is very intense as it packs a two year traditional course into a one year syllabus and the new BTEC qualification being offered from September will similarly feature such accelerated learning. Mike said: 'The BTEC course looks at building techniques and environmental impact studies and goes into more depth about the construction industry and its impact on the environment.'
Students who want to start the construction courses have to complete a three-day taster session so that the both the students and the tutors, Charles Jakeman and Glen Wells can assess whether it's the right course for them. Student Ryan Strachan said: 'I liked the electrics best. I'd done a bit before. We have to do a test on health and safety and we're taught all the relevant safety information around the workshop. We wire up sockets, plugs, ceiling roses and switches and it definitely makes a change from College.'
Chris Guiver said: 'Half of us did bricklaying while the other half learned about electrics and then the groups swapped around. I've learned quite a bit about how to do different circuits and I'd probably like to be an electrician.'
Danny Robinson said: ' You get different types of bricklaying and the patterns get harder as you go along. I've done English bond, single wall bond and last week Chris and I built an arch and this week we've built a chimney. When brick laying you need to be as accurate as you can, use a string line and keep going straight.'
Mike said: 'The Brooke Weston students are well motivated and extremely focussed about where they want to be. They will all achieve this qualification, but that sums them up, they're a first class bunch of students.'
As well as the hands-on experience gained at the Training Academy students have also benefited from the advice of those working in the industry. They have had visits from Alistair Weir, the managing director of Jeakins Weir, Danny Nelson, an ex-student at Brooke Weston and now project manager for Winvic, John Webster, head of buildings for the Boughton estate and Simon Reid, also an ex-student and an apprentice at Timpsons. The visits gave students an insight into all the different areas of the construction industry.