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Construction and career classes for Writtle Junior School pupils

by Jennie Ward

Langley Waterproofing Systems provides pupils with education on greening the built environment and careers in construction on Writtle Junior School project.

As part of its commitment to educational estates, Langley Waterproofing Systems Ltd has partnered with Writtle Junior School on its innovative Learning Pod classroom, a new facility that has been designed and built in collaboration with the school’s pupils. Langley has contributed to this initiative through the completion of an educational presentation to the pupils about climate change, construction and sustainability, as well as supporting the construction of the Learning Pod’s roof. 

Recognising a need for a new learning space, Writtle Junior School embarked on a project to create a new classroom on its site near Chelmsford in Essex. Nick Taylor, the headteacher of the school, also felt strongly that there was the opportunity to educate and inspire the children by involving them throughout construction of the Learning Pod.

The headteacher of Writtle Junior School felt there was the opportunity to educate and inspire the children by involving them throughout construction of the Learning Pod.

In November 2016, Nick challenged the children to design their ideal learning space and make suggestions on the features they would include. Architects from a local practice then helped the children to turn their ideas into a detailed building proposal that was submitted for planning approval. Once approved, the children were then involved with liaising with stakeholders on the project from architects, health and safety consultants and planning experts, to quantity surveyors and trade professionals. The aim of this was to allow the children to understand the broad range of people involved in making the building a reality. Construction began in early 2018 and as of December 2020 it is nearing completion with just some exterior detailing and landscaping to be finished, with the children involved at every stage of the build. In the spring term 2021 the children will become interior designers and research and then purchase the furniture for the Pod.

Nick Taylor explained: “Showing our pupils what goes into creating the world around us is extremely valuable. We hope that for some of them this will instil a lifelong passion for architecture and design and even inspire them to follow our experts to pursue careers in the construction industry.”

Langley had originally partnered with the school to improve the longevity of its flat roof estate on the main school building. During the successful installation of the roof, Langley learned more about the plans for the new Learning Pod and agreed to support the school’s initiative. Langley funded the construction of the pod’s roof with the installation of their durable and Broof(t4) compliant TA-25 Flat Roofing System, topped with an extensive green roof system incorporated from the pupil’s design plans. The green roof solution was designed, supplied and installed by industry experts; Eco Green Roofs Ltd. 

Once the construction of the roof element was complete, Tom Kerr; Sales Director of Langley Waterproofing Systems Ltd was joined by Steven Vincent; Major Projects Manager from Eco Green Roofs Ltd, who created a bespoke presentation to deliver to the pupils at Writtle Junior School. As the current climate did not allow for the presentation to be carried out face to face, a Zoom meeting was booked with Nick Taylor and the pupils actively involved on the project, aged from 7 to 11 years old, attending. 

Langley sought to ensure the presentation was impactful, environmentally relevant and would enhance their knowledge of construction, from what they had learnt on the project. The presentation initially entailed details of health and safety and the importance of not accessing a roof, followed by understanding the fundamentals of flat roofs, then sustainability. This element went into detail about the benefits of the green roof system that was now present on the Learning Pod, and how it needs to be maintained to ensure it continues to flourish all year round. The presentation concluded by demonstrating the skills shortage that faces the construction industry, and the need for young people to choose the industry as a viable and an exciting career path. 

Tom Kerr, Sales Director at Langley Waterproofing Systems Ltd, said: “When we heard about the Learning Pod we were excited and eager to support an initiative that introduces pupils of a young age to the construction industry and the different job roles that are available. This is especially important because of the skills gap issue that the industry is facing – something that Langley has been involved with addressing for many years.

“The fact the pod has many sustainable features shows these pupils are already thinking about the environmental and ecological impact. Donating the green roof alongside our waterproofing solution was the least we could do.”

With limited funding available through the school budget, the construction of the Learning Pod has been financed through other sources. A mixture of fundraising by the school PTA, contributions from local businesses and the donations of time, services and materials from a number of companies has made it possible.

Nick Taylor added: “The green roof was an excellent suggestion from the children but making it happen was proving to be a challenge with the resources we could access. We had looked at the possibility of growing our own green roof, but this proved not to be feasible. Therefore, we are very grateful to Langley for orchestrating not only the waterproofing element but also the green roof solution for our Learning Pod – something we can be proud of for years to come.”

Langley is partnered with both the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL). For more information on the services Langley provides for educational estates, view their ‘Proactive Flat Roof Asset Management Guide’.  You can register and download it here: www.langley.co.uk/technical-downloads

To see highlights from the bespoke presentation delivered to the pupils at Writtle Junior School visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP4ywBvz4f8

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