I have visited many school construction projects of late, for a number of contracting organisations across the UK, and have notice they all have one thing in common, a hoarding or barrier between them and the school. Most have received credit (from considerate constructor scheme, health and safety, ISO14001 auditors etc) for the effectiveness of the barrier.
These hoardings represent a barrier between school and project, removing the children and teaching staff from what should be viewed as a unique learning opportunity. If the school is lucky they will have a chained section or peep hole to look through or perhaps a PR’d site tour, all badged by the contractors as evidence of engagement with schools.
Should we not be looking to remove barriers, not create more?
All education projects should be learning projects.
Construction projects in schools and other educational establishments present learning opportunity on a wide range of themes, from project management to crafts and skills, from technology and science to sustainability. They also present a fantastic opportunity for designers and contracts to harness student environmental and sustainability thinking on future school facilities. And yet we isolate them.
There are win-wins for both. Those in the construction or maintenance sector can really engage with school users, improving their own and the industry image, developing relationships for future work and future recruitment, whilst the educational sector can benefit from real time learning of curriculum subjects.
There obviously has to be a considered approach to such sharing. CRB checks are not seen as enough, token even. Safeguarding awareness must become a mandatory induction aspect for all working on educational construction/refurb/maintenance/fm projects.
Through Classofyourown projects we have been working to remove these barriers for a few years now, and in association with The Athena Programme have started to roll out a certified safeguarding awareness programme for those in the built environment