Motivated pupils from Nottingham Free School have learnt about the many roles in the world of construction as part of an exciting careers week with Midlands contractor G F Tomlinson, which included a site tour of the Nottingham Castle restoration site.
Nottingham Free School, in Sherwood, held a jam-packed week of career days this month (July) – with students getting the chance to go behind-the-scenes of the works at Nottingham Castle – a high-profile transformation project led by G F Tomlinson.
G F Tomlinson have been partnered with the school since 2018 as part of their involvement in the Enterprise Advisor Network. They provide a dedicated enterprise advisor who works closely with staff and the senior leadership team to support the school’s careers curriculum and have created a bespoke programme of events to bolster this year’s careers week.
On Thursday 18 July, the Just Imagine Working Here event kickstarted the programme, with 21 students from Year 10 donning hard hats to visit Nottingham Castle for a site tour with the G F Tomlinson project team.
After the tour, the pupils took part in a teambuilding activity to use the skills they had learnt on the site to create their own designs for a new visitor centre and ‘tender’ for the contract. With a strict budget for materials such as lollipop sticks, paper straws and string, their creative skills were put to the test to create a model for their pitches – with each student in each team taking on the role of either architect, structural engineer, project manager or quantity surveyor.
The activity aimed to give the youngsters a real taste of a construction project from start to finish, including building design, structural stability and budget recording.
The careers event was also supported by the Scape Group – a public sector procurement specialist company – who opened up their boardroom and meeting rooms at their nearby Nottingham office to host the teambuilding exercise. Employees from fellow regional businesses including Lungfish Architects and Arc Partnership also provided industry expertise during the day to offer guidance to the students when it came to the design and construction of their model visitor centres.
Other careers events with G F Tomlinson across the week included a quantity surveying workshop with Year 7 pupils, while Year 9 students got hands-on with a lesson in hanging doors by G F Tomlinson’s team of joiners. The careers week finished with a day of mock interviews, giving students an experience of the application process to gain a role within the construction industry.
The partnership between G F Tomlinson and Nottingham Free School was first developed in 2015, when the contractor refurbished the former historic Courtaulds Textile Factory to create the new secondary school on Haydn Road. The project was delivered under the Department for Education framework for Nova Academy Trust.
G F Tomlinson Framework manager and the school’s enterprise advisor, Craig Stopper, said that it is great to see young people excited about the world of construction and the many doors it could open for their future.
“Our long-standing relationship with Nottingham Free School has led to a really positive and collaborative careers scheme that has given students access to the construction industry and the many exciting and diverse roles available.
“We are dedicated to providing opportunities in employment, training and skills and do this through our links with local schools, colleges and universities. The Enterprise Advisor Network has enabled us to develop closer relationships with our partnered schools supporting staff to create valuable careers provision for students to make informed choices about their future.”
Careers coordinator and languages teacher at Nottingham Free School, Philippa Barrett, commented: “We are really grateful to G F Tomlinson for putting in the time and effort to provide such a range of exciting activities for our students. Young people gain a lot from interactions with employers and three lucky year groups have benefited from this project. Making those links between working life and the classroom is so valuable for promoting employability skills, aspiration, curiosity and knowledge. Thank you to all the volunteers who have contributed to making this such a success.”
Rachel Quinn, skills lead at the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “The Nottingham Castle project is a great example of where D2N2’s capital investment in our Visitor Economy sector can benefit both great local businesses, such as G F Tomlinson, and the future careers of our young people. Construction is a really important sector for D2N2 and by giving young people experience of projects like these, G F Tomlinson are both connecting young people with their area and inspiring the construction workforce of the future. It’s a win-win.”