In September, both Oak Academy and DREW Construction were invited to the launch of the ‘Adopt a School Campaign’ hosted and run by Constructing Excellence South West, a not-for-profit organisation whose members include Bournemouth Borough Council and Dorset County Council Representatives. 

CESW’s main mission is to ensure that young people are educated on the variety of opportunities and skills in the construction sector of the economy can provide.  This is obviously vital considering the LMI status in Dorset where Construction is one of the top 3 employment opportunities available to the next generation.

As an outcome of this launch, Oak Academy and DREW Construction formed a partnership, sharing both the passion and ideals to ensure that young people could access the world and community around them in order to not only further their dreams and ambitions but also our society.  Katie Cull, Marketing Manager for DREW Construction, shared her knowledge on the potential outcomes of partnerships such as this by stating, ‘If our industry does not look at ways to engage with young people and remove the ‘stigma’ associated with construction, we will see a rapid decrease in skills over the next few years, which will dramatically affect Bournemouth and local SMEs, including our supply chain.’

On the afternoon of Friday 17th November, Oak Academy students welcomed Phil Langdown, Managing Director of DREW Construction and Katie Cull in to school to showcase their blossoming talents in both construction and carpentry.

The group of GCSE students were working in a purpose built yard, following and adapting design briefs in order to learn the skills of brick laying and joinery.

Nathan Wills, Design and Technology Teacher, was proud to explain the importance of partnerships such as this one stating, ‘Students need to be able to work alongside industry professionals not only to learn from them but most importantly to be inspired’.

Whilst displaying their practical abilities, the students also had the opportunity to quiz Phil and Katie on the employability skills needed to engage and work within the construction industry. Chloe Trunwitt, was especially pleased to learn that as a woman, she had just as much career and progression opportunities within this field of employment as men.

Both Phil and Katie were keen to impress upon the students that there are a myriad of different job roles within construction, ranging from working on site to designing outcomes, financial services, HR and marketing to name but a few.

Their underpinning message was for the students to have the drive and passion to make a difference and to seize the day!

The future partnership between Oak Academy and DREW Construction is destined for great things!

Katie Cull explained that ‘as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility, along with other construction firms it is our obligation to help change the view and provide deeper insight into the vast roles there are available in our industry, to raise the number of new entrants and provide a better outlook for our local economy and the industry as a whole.’

As a result, students have already had the opportunity of meeting Sam Bigg (Estimator), Tim Allen, (Site Manager) and Paul Machin (Site Manager) who shared their knowledge and experience through a week of assemblies to all year groups.  Students were excited to learn about DREW’s ongoing work to complete the £4.3m Tropical House project at Marwell Zoo; which is the single biggest project that Marwell has undertaken. The students have been looking at the processes of such a project online and are looking forward to seeing the final outcomes in summer 2018.

In the new year, local site visits have been arranged, students will be involved in a multi-disciplinary project, encompassing subjects such as Maths, Science, Construction and Art and DREW employees will be involved in an Interview Day to enthuse and give ‘real life’ experience to the school’s current Year 11 students.

Oak Academies, Junior Leadership Team have welcomed the partnership with DREW Construction stating that ‘more companies should be working in closer proximity with schools and education in general; after all, their future workforce is within them.’  Mrs Melissa Helliwell (Assistant Vice Principal) fully endorsed this statement, stating that ‘employment collaboration within the community, could only lead to better overall outcomes for our young people.  We are very fortunate to have been able to make such a ‘like-minded’ partnership with DREW Construction and we look forward to working with them for the foreseeable future.’

Pictured from left to right:

Harry Hopkins, Joshua Hobby, Josh Monk, George Hindley, Brandon Phillips, Maddison Crabb, Steven Pettifer, Chloe Trunwitt, Alex Rodrigues, Ben Zheng