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Designing the future

01 October 2019

A teacher from an award-winning organisation that pioneered dedicated GCSE and A-Level equivalent courses for the design, engineering and construction professions is in Jersey this week. 

Dan McDonagh will visit Haute Vallée and Le Rocquier schools, where students study ‘Design, Engineer, Construct’, to support those enrolled on the qualification. He teaches at a school in Manchester, where the DEC course is thriving, and is visiting the island on behalf of Class of Your Own Limited – the social business and education provider behind the qualification.

His visit comes following a recent trip to London where DEC students from Le Rocquier School met some of the city’s top building designers and engineers and learned about some of the latest pioneering technologies to revolutionise the industry.

Iconic developments at Battersea Park and Olympic Park were the backdrop for two days of activities for the students. The visit was the result of the school’s ongoing partnership with J3 Ltd, a consortium of companies which includes Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and Garenne Construction Group.

Students undertook simulation training for 30-metre-high cranes and hydraulic drill machinery, as well as drone-flying and interviews with some of the design team behind the two famous landmarks. During the trip, students also met engineers from the King’s Yard Energy Centre, learning how sustainable energy sources are used to power the entire Olympic Park complex. While there, they observed the use of ‘empathy suits’ used to simulate the ageing process to inform the design of homes for the elderly.

The Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, said: “Meeting designers and engineers, with such a passion for their work, will help to inspire these pupils back in the classroom. The experience is opening them up to the possibilities offered within this career path, whilst strengthening the connections between their classroom learning and the world of work.”

Skills Jersey’s Dave Roworth, who accompanied the pupils, said that he was delighted with how engaging and inspiring the activities had been. 

“The construction industry has much to offer, particularly with how new technologies are being used to design in virtual reality, and how simulation pods are used for training staff on critical machinery, for example,” he said. “Some of the students were performing at higher levels than the adults, so clearly they are showing great potential already. They cannot wait to create their own amazing designs.”

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, along with Jersey’s Garenne Construction Group, provide the industry funding and support for the DEC course at Le Rocquier School, with specialist professionals from each company regularly sharing their experience and skills with students in the classroom.

The DEC qualification was added to the list of approved GCSE qualifications last year, and is part of an education strategy, in collaboration with industry, to boost STEM skills in schools.​

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