Construction students put best foot forward to help local primary school

14 May 2019

County Durham construction students have been putting their best foot forward, stepping up to design and build a welly store and changing area for a local school.

The purpose-built facility offers the pupils of Collierley Primary School, Dipton, bespoke welly hangers and benching, which means they can sit in comfort to change their footwear. The large lockable wooden doors and watertight store keep the wellies safe and dry.

Created by construction students from Derwentside College, the scheme is part of a project being delivered by the Durham Villages Regeneration Company (DVRC), the partnership between Durham County Council and leading home builder, Keepmoat Homes. As well as delivering new homes, its aim is to support community and training initiatives.

This venture is offering construction students hands on experience of working on live projects and around 20 of them, aged between 16 and 39, were involved in the scheme which ran from July 2018 last year until March. The result is Collierley Primary pupils spending less time looking for lost footwear and more time enjoying forest teaching activities, such as bug hunting and sand and water play.

Ken Johnson, Deputy Head of the Construction Faculty at Derwentside College said: “This collaboration has enabled our apprentices and full-time construction students to work across a range of disciplines and trades. The benefits are far reaching, providing opportunities to get hands on experience, problem solve, manage a project and practice skills. For the school we are able to provide a needed facility.”

Plans are also being made for the students to take part in a structured work experience programme at the site over the remainder of the academic year.

Angela McDermid, Head Teacher at Collierley Primary School, added: “We are thrilled with our new welly store. The pupils love it and are taking very good care of it. Playtimes are 20% of the school day, so we invest heavily for these times to be positive and active experiences. This includes opportunities for the children to extend their scientific skills by planting in the allotment areas or mixing potions in the mud and sand kitchens. The new welly store helps towards making these activities more manageable.”

Geoff Scott, Social and Economic Impact Manager with Keepmoat Homes in the North East, added: “Keepmoat Homes is passionate about supporting the communities in which it is developing and we’re proud that through the DVRC and this initiative particularly, we have not only helped create a new facility for the school but also provided work experience to the construction professionals of tomorrow.”

Cllr. Carl Marshall, Chairman of DVRC and Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Forging partnerships like this provides so many opportunities including training, experience and the development of close working relationships within the communities we operate. The students at Derwentside College are the next generation of construction workers, so it is vital we invest in their future and that of the industry.”

DVRC is currently developing a site just off Palmer Road at Dipton. The show home at Coppice Heights is now open and the development will comprise a mixture of 59 two, three and four bedroomed homes. It is one of four live DVRC developments, with others at The Fell, Chester-le-Street; Woodland Mews, Peterlee and Byron Mews, Seaham delivering a further 278 homes.

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